Dustin Hoffman on All The Presidents Men PS-Style

Apologies for the lengthy title, I wasn’t sure what to call it. I wanted to share one quote that Dustin Hoffman talked about in his online Masterclass. It immediately lept out at me as a Dramatica-relevant quote about Problem Solving Style in terms of All The President’s Men.

He’s talking about meeting the real-life counterpart of his character, and the differences between the way Bernstein thought and the way Robert Redford’s Woodward thought.

“He was very different from Woodward. The big difference between Woodward and Bernstein was that Woodward was very didactic. He was A-B-C-D, in saying “how far is this gonna go?”. Bernstein was not that. He would get bored. Bernstein was A-B-C-F or A-B-C-G, and he was right. He would make this intuitive jump, and that was part of his personality. And that became something that was an internal thing.”

It goes without saying that getting bored does not necessarily make a Holistic thinker. But I think Dustin recognised that Bernstein was seeing the relationships of things as a whole, making him perfectly able to make those leaps.

He mentioned something else that I thought lined up perfectly with Dramatica but I’ll have to go through my notes to figure out whatever it was.


This might be an OS solution of induction–often used in real life but rarely (never?) seen as a solution among dramatica analyses. :smiley:

The transcript is from:

I just got a tip from our FBI source.
The secret cash fund financed Segretti.

All right, now, listen.

Chapin hired Segretti, we know that.
And we know Haldeman hired Chapin.

Haldeman has to be the fifth name
to control the fund.

Sloan knows.

We’ve only got four of the five
who controlled the fund.

It has to be Haldeman.
I don’t think we’ve got it.

We know the fifth
is a top White House official.

No one has said it.
No one’s denied it.

That still doesn’t prove it was Haldeman.

If you go to bed and there’s no snow,
and you wake up and there’s snow…

…you can say it snowed,
although you didn’t see it.

If we can’t prove the fifth is Haldeman,
we’re wiped out.

Everything in that campaign
is done with his approval.

Everybody who works under Haldeman
does so with his knowledge.

Everybody is under Haldeman
except the president.

Common sense says it’s Haldeman.

If we go and see Sloan,
and we tell him that we know…

…that he named Haldeman
to the grand jury…

Then all we would need to do
is have him confirm it.

Hi. SLOAN: Please.

We’ve already written the story.
We just need you to define…

Debbie’s in the hospital
and my in-laws are…

Two questions?
We understand.

Two questions?

The cash that financed
the Watergate break-in.

Five men had control of the fund.

Mitchell, Stans, Magruder, Kalmbach.
We have confirmations on those four.

We found out Haldeman’s the fifth.
I’m not your source.

All we’re asking you to do is confirm.
I’m not your source on Haldeman.

When you were questioned
by the grand jury…

You had to name names.

Of course, everything they asked.
All right.

Well, uh…

What do you think?

Say we wrote a story that said Haldeman
was the fifth to control the fund.

Would we be in any trouble?
Would we be wrong?

Let me put it this way.

I would have no problems
if you wrote a story like that.

Interesting. A quick look on Subtext shows that the 2015 crime dramedy Dope has a Solution of Induction. Meanwhile, Solution of Deduction is only Lord of the Flies and Sweet Smell of Success.

This makes me wonder: are these just not popular story themes in our culture? Is it tricky to tell this kind of story? I always feel like I understand this distinction in theory but have a hard time applying it (for example as an OS Character method).

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I didn’t notice Dope. It’s been on my list since it came out, but I’ll watch it ASAP.

I also wonder if induction is the OS solution to every Sherlock Holmes story.

I’m idly speculating that induction was the OS solution in All the President’s Men. I haven’t properly analyzed it, and even if I did I’d wager I’d be wrong. I’m still at the “everything is obtaining” stage of understanding Dramatica.

I certainly agree with the relative difficulty of the methodology quad. I enjoy such stories, but when I’m deciding what to write about, I look at that quad, my eyes glaze over, and I dismiss it due to my lack of understanding all those P-words and -tions.

As far as popularity, I feel like many of these methodology stories can feel more academic. Or, more cynically, they can be popular with critics but less amenable to explosions. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, “I’ve seen plays less boring than this methodology quad story!”

I wonder if it’s correlated with a feeling of “present-times anxiety.” It’s probably the least commercially popular quad, but I speculate that the quad becomes more popular in times when people tend to think less about the future & history and more about the immediate crisis. In other words, range of the moment thinking.

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This was posted somewhere here in the forum or somewhere else. Its a nice illustration of the difference between linear and holistic:

I think this is a misunderstanding of how these are expressed in stories.

Lord of the Flies does not feel remotely academic.

A teenager rebelling and joining a group of friends their parents don’t like wouldn’t feel remotely academic. (Problem, Deduction: “you’ll get nowhere with a bunch of druggie friends”, Solution: Induction, “These people are happy and when I join them, I’ll be happy too.”)


Image was originally from one of these two articles:

Predicting Who Will Listen to Your Story


Female Main Characters Who Think Like Female Characters

I originally made them for my classes at CalArts.


I was also going to mention The Princess Bride and The LEGO Movie! These don’t involve Deduction/Induction that I recall, but other pairs like Probability/Possibility and Certainty/Potentiality.

One thing I’ve found with some of the more complicated-sounding elements is that, at least when using them as the PRCO elements of a scene, they sometimes come out SUPER simple. It’s actually kind of cool learning experience seeing how simple these can be:

  • Induction: I had a scene where the conflict was trying to figure out why this big alert had gone out, and this was resolved by inferring something like “well, a message came right before the alert, so that was probably it”. Being more scientific minded myself, I remember finding it weird that my characters seemed satisfied with that. But it definitely felt like it worked in the scene, so I left it. Only on revision did I analyze the scene’s quad and realize that was an Induction beat.

  • Deduction: “Sorry, you can’t help with this; it’s club business and you’re not a member”