Examples of PSR conflicts -- Please add to this list

I’m studying conflict…again,more…still. I’d really like an ever expanding list of specific scene illustrations of the different conflict possibilities. So I thought I’d offer one, that y’all could help me vet.

For crying out loud, I wish I could master this.

Anyway. I was thinking of how a PSR element gets presented as conflict

And an example from Beauty and the Beast came to mind

There’s this scene where Belle and her father return home and the mob shows up.

Gaston is trying to MANIPULATE Belle into BECOMING his wife, using Maurice’s UNPROVEN claims about the beast to lock him up. But Bell gets the mirror and counters by PROVING that the beast does exist. Which Gaston uses to shift the mob’s target, so they go after the beast, pushing the story foward.

My first question is: does my interpretation hold up?
My 2nd question is …if it does how come what seems like such a clear example of unproven and proven aren’t in the storyform anywhere?


Because you’re taking an isolated incident out of context.

I could find pursuit/avoid, or faith/disbelief, or knowledge/thought in the same scene.

It’s the same thing as finding a single perspective in multiple domains. The totality of the story is where the argument lies and therefore why you won’t find those in the storyform.

Now if you were to write the story of this one scene then yes, by all means that storyform will work. If there was a TV series this scene/storyform you describe could be the basis of an entire episode.


@jassnip Out of curiosity – in which act (signpost) do we think this scene takes place?


Here’s a recent example from my current draft. The OS Act 3 is Doing and the first PSR item is Knowledge.

  • The MC, Roan, has just arrived in Elsewhere, an alternate reality where everything is a different, twisted version of itself. Except the people: the same people exist, although they’ve lived different lives. (Doing: worlds-travel)
  • While she’s trying to get her bearings in a ruined/abandoned suburb, a school bus arrives. It’s a bunch of kids on a field trip doing “animal rescue” – searching for dogs. (Doing: animal rescue. How well they perform is important, the overlord Piings will be angry if they don’t do it well.)
  • Roan hides from the kids & teacher, not sure who she can trust in this other world. But then she hears a familiar voice: her best friend Isabelle. Roan knows her! And she’s kind of helpless on her own* in this strange land that she knows nothing about. She hesitates, then darts out of hiding to talk to Isabelle. (Knowledge: knowing someone)
  • Isabelle both knows and doesn’t know Roan: she recognizes Roan, but this presents a major problem because the Elsewhere version of Roan died several years ago. Isabelle knows it can’t really be her! So she turns Roan into the teacher & authorities, who arrest Roan as a rebel.

* OS Focus of Help

Hopefully you can see there how Knowledge is a source of conflict, i.e. causes problems, within the context of Doing (worlds-travelling).

One thing I should point out, all of that Knowledge stuff above showed up on its own as I was writing the scene. The beat I had written ahead of time in Subtext was seeking the unknown for someone while travelling somewhere (Knowledge while Doing) – which is still totally cool and accurate, but I really loved all the stuff that came up with Isabelle too.

I find that process works great for me – come up with something a little higher level in Subtext, and it seems to guide my muse into the really good stuff as I write. Well, sometimes… on the good days, anyway. :wink:


I think this is toward the end of act three.


A brief example of Signpost 2 of The Devil Wears Prada (always my go-to, until the Users Group analyse Paddington 2 and then you’re gonna have six months of marmalade PSRs). It’s late and I’m doing this from memory so it may not be totally accurate, but I think they pretty much line up with the PSR — and each one is a scene (or mini-sequence) of its own.

Context: Andy spent signpost one being exhausted, mocked and basically scolded by everyone because she did not fit in. After a brief pity party with Nigel, Andy is told to wake up and make an effort. Inspired by his words, Andy convinces him to give her a make-over. Then:

Value while Being: now wearing expensive designer clothing and ‘drinking the Kool Aid’ of the office, Andy finally begins to impress Miranda and her coworkers, but her new pro-Runway attitude and willingness to drop everything at a moment’s notice for Miranda doesn’t sit well with her boyfriend and friends (note: all of whom are awful people) outside of the office – who act like total a–holes while she tries to deal with an emergency.

Confidence that leads to Worry while Being: while James Holt disappoints Miranda with his ‘catastrophic’ designs, Andy is able to soften the blow by doing the impossible and anticipating exactly what she wants in advance — inspiring enough confidence for Miranda to trust Andy with delivering the book to her house (a job Emily was doing until Andy could prove herself as ‘not a total psycho’). But, confused by Emily’s instructions (be invisible and don’t talk to anyone; place the book on the table in the foyer and leave), an anxious Andy breaks every rule: listening to the false and misleading advice from Miranda’s twins that leads her upstairs with the book, only to get caught in the act by a horrified Miranda — undoing all that hard-earned trust in one fell swoop.

Worth while Being: desperate to make it up to Miranda, Andy prepares to grovel for her job, but is instead offered one last chance to prove that she is worthy of being Miranda’s assistant: get the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript that her twins so desperately want by 3pm, or ‘don’t even bother coming back’ — another impossible task that Andy takes on enthusiastically, and somehow manages to accomplish in time (and in impressive style: “I made two copies… and had them covered, reset and bound so that they wouldn’t look like manuscripts.”). Miranda reluctantly accepts Andy’s success, reaffirming Andy in the job ‘a million girls would kill for’.

Each PSR beat is basically causing problems within the bigger context of ‘living up to high expectations’ (incidentally, this is also the goal of the movie). It also makes for a nice three-act feel: Andy finally starts to fit in at work; Andy’s preparedness earns Miranda’s trust, but her recklessness almost costs her the job; Andy proves her worth by achieving the impossible and re-secures her place as Miranda’s assistant.


Sorry I only asked because it seemed at that point less like Becoming and more like Conceptualizing to me.

In the current storyform, Becoming has a PSR of Responsibility, Commitment, Obligation, Rationalization which seems closer to the issues around the Beast letting Belle go just as their relationship is Becoming something else – she has a responsibility to her father, but she’s made a commitment to the Beast and feels obligated to live up to that. The Beast can no longer rationalize (justify) holding her.

The next part has Gaston move from his desire to make Belle his wife (Becoming) to executing a plan (Conceiving) to coerce her to do so, while Belle is trying to get them to visualize (Conceptualize) the reality of the Beast. The PSR there is a little less obvious to me but I can see Permission (coercing Belle to consent to marry him), Need (to avoid being deprived of her father), Expediency (“I can make this problem go away for you”) and Deficiency (not sure how to encode that one).

Proven/Unproven are Elements, not Issues that would be part of the PSR. So isn’t it possible (@jhull?) that they’re just an expression of the PRCO/SRCA quad of a given scene?


They could be - it’s hard to tell, because at that distance you’re so deep in subjectivity that you could misread anything. It’s part of the reason why the Elements are listed in the Plot Sequence Report - the accuracy is in question.


Sorry for bringing up an older thread, but i’m working my way through illustrating a PSR.

Remember that the Dramatica software is supposed to have the ability to provide a report with so much information that you’d have to write for a thousand pages or more to cover it all but that report is held back. And to fully explore even a single perspective, I think you’re technically supposed to cover all 64 elements in every throughline meaning Unproven/Proven should probably each appear at least four times in a truly complete thousand-plus page story. So even if they aren’t in the reports that Dramatica does provide, they should still be a part of the story.

The PSR has the following:

This report shows how dramatic tension makes itself manifest in a series of discrepancies between plot and theme, act by act…plot no longer matches theme, and the two are often quite out of step with one another…As your story unfolds, it is the discrepancy between plot and theme that clues the audience in on the nature of the problem at the heart of your story…

It sounds a little like the PSR appears between theme and plot like a spark between a finger and a doorknob after you rub your socks on the carpet. So not just PSR-ing while Sign Posting, but PSR-ing while comparing or balancing Issue and Sign Post.

An example from the PSR i’m working through now is that when balancing Reappraisal with Memory, it will spark tensions of Truth, Evidence, Suspicion, and Falsehood. In the context of this story, that’s perfect because when balancing “Reappraisals lead to greater understanding” against “Recalling a memory”, the tension in the story comes from reappraising a memory to find what’s actually correct, reappraising a memory in search of some evidence until becoming suspicious about something, and reappraising a memory to uncover a lie.

I’m not going to put the exact storytelling for my PSR, but it’s something like “When John reappraises the advice his brother gave him before his death for greater understanding, the truth begins to come out”.
“When John reappraises the last last time he saw his brother alive for greater understanding, he finds information supporting the belief that he-John-was responsible for the death and begins to suspect something.”
“When someone’s memory is appraised for greater understanding, one of John’s lies is uncovered.”

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What do you mean by this?

Good question. i’ll admit right up front that i used “balance” as a short cut for a longer explanation because it’s kind of a Dramatica buzz word. But if one’s methodology of dealing with an attitude is to recall a memory, one wouldn’t automatically reappraise that memory to draw helpful information from it if one’s judgment of reappraisals is that reappraisals are a waste of time. And yet, one might recall a memory and reappraise it over and over, even if nothing useful comes from it, if their judgment of reappraisals is that they are necessary.

So if you balance recalling a memory against ones judgment of reappraisal, one who doesn’t value reappraisals won’t take a new look at that memory and may miss some important truth. Or one who does value reappraisals may take new look after new look at that memory hoping to uncover some unknown truth even though there’s nothing there to uncover and end up running in circles because of it.

So i’m not using “balance” to say if you have too much Memory that you balance it out with more Reappraisal, but rather to mean something like applying ones values or judgements to ones methodology to see how values shape methodology. And then the Plot Sequence, as i’m reading it, would be the tension that arises from this process. But then, I could be completely misinterpreting the info quoted above from the PSR as well.

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First of all, if it works for you, then it works. And the rest of us should at least experiment with it.

The thing that prompted my question was this: If reappraisal is the tension between plot and theme, then I expected you to say something like “the character ran into some [truth, evidence, etc.] that caused a reappraisal of a Memory.”

That may be the same thing, written a different way.

At any rate I see nothing restricting the flow. It could be Truth–>Reappraisal or Reappraisal–>Truth.

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So even though all of Dramatica is theme, i’m specifically assuming here that ‘theme’ refers to ‘Issue’ and that ‘Plot’ refers to Sign Posts. So i wasn’t using reappraisal as tension, but as theme. The tension I was looking for between them would be truth. So if we switch reappraisal and truth in your reply we get:
If truth is the tension between plot and theme, then I expected you to say something like "the character ran into some (reappraisal or lack thereof regarding a memory) that caused the character to be confronted by some truth.

I think I agree with the idea whether it’s how you put it or how i put it. And even though I explained it all as “apply issue to sign post and then plot sequence occurs”, I too see no reason the flow couldn’t go in another direction.

And I mean, really, the main point I hoped to make wasn’t about how to put together theme and issue and plot sequence, but that using the PSR isn’t just about PSR-ing while Sign Posting because the PSR–at least as i’m reading it–is sort of a bridge, or a journey, or a wave between the throughlines Issue and it’s Sign Posts.

I’ll add, too, that part of the reason I’m suggesting that Issue and Sign Post are both needed and that the Plot Sequence is a wave between them is how I’ve interpreted certain articles of Melanie’s regarding how the mind works. Specifically, the idea that a problem enters through the preconscious and works it’s way through subconscious, memory, and conscious and then, if we haven’t solved the problem, works it’s way back down. I’m only making wild, maybe slightly educated guesses here when I guess that the storyform comes from the problem working it’s way from Preconscious to Conscious and that the PSR comes from the problem working it’s way from Conscious back down to Preconscious. I won’t go into detail on that for now because I figure the chances of that being accurate are extremely small. Nevertheless, I’m convinced of the need…or at least the benefits…of adding Issue into the mix when working through PSR.

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Hi guys.

Armando gave an example of how he deals with the PSR in his book. It’s similar to what’s being talked about here. E.g What does Hope have to do with The Preconscious? So your encoding and an exploration of the variation will lead you to something.


Here’s another way of looking at it from the same PSR.
Sign Post of Future, Issue of Repulsion. PSR issues of Rationalization, Responsibility, Commitment, and Obligation.
If Armando says to ask what Rationalization has to do with the Future, I’m saying to include Repulsion in that. There’s no set way to ask it and I try several different ways until I find what I’m looking for. But for this Signpost I might ask ‘if the Future is Repulsive, how do they Rationalize staying?’, ‘if the Future is Repulsive, who is Responsible, or where does Responsibility lie and do they stay committed?’, ‘if the Future is Repulsive, what are they obligated by/to do?’