Flavor of top left prerequisites, requirements, forewarnings, preconditions

How do the quadrants affect the story? I realize stories in different quadrants carry a flavor, but what flavor in particular, do these additional static plot points carry according to quadrant?

In particular, I’ve pulled back my choices to some options and was wondering how it slants the story.

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For me it seems like:

  • Knowledge feels heavy
  • Ability feels light and fun as if tumbling through space
  • Desire feels focused
  • Thought feels ponderous

Totally subjective take on it but that’s how they feel to me.


And would you say the pattern works at the higher levels, too?

@didomachiatto Have you seen these threads? Worth a read if you haven’t:


I’ve seen them, but they didn’t make sense until now.

Thanks for sharing.

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In case it wasn’t clear, Jim was using Knowledge/Ability/Desire/Thought in the general sense, e.g. The Past, Memories, Understanding, Conceptualizing being the Knowledge-like Concerns (upper left) etc.

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Thanks, Mike. I ended up figuring out a lot from @Lakis’s links. What @jhay put together, regarding Contextual Subgenres is amazing, along with the concern link. I compiled a lot of answers together on one sheet, and when I finish formatting it, will send out a link so people can have a reference sheet. Unless there already is a reference sheet.

Here is the full compiled answer for this question I asked:

Past - Understanding - Conceptualizing - Memory: stories about burdens. Guilt and obsession, finding relief and moving on or getting consummed by one’s demons. Skeletons in the closet ; shining the light on something from the past, figuring how things fit together, finding the truth or entertaining a lie. Top-left: “heavy” BAGGAGE; reflective; feels heavy Cynically - Every supernatural horror movie (or movie about unresolved grief).

Present - Learning - Conceiving - Conscious : stories about survival. Finding ways to get by or getting swallowed whole, abilities against limitations. Observing, deliberating, innovating and reinventing. Bettering or worsening current situations through action or inaction. Bottom-right: “golden” / “inner light” IN SYNC; cerebral; feels ponderous Cynically - Every movie that wins awards from the 1950s or 2000s.

Progress - Doing - Being - Preconscious : stories about evolution. Moving forward, backward, or being plain stuck ; finding a new direction is enough (=/= price). Battling forth against others and oneself, action without rest, effectiveness over results, impulses. Having control, struggling to keep it or completely losing it. Top-right: “light-hearted” / “playful” (I’m still working on this) WARM FUZZY; bubbly (this one always has an indie movie vibe to it in my brain); feels light and fun as if tumbling through space Cynically - Every movie with a boy, man-child, or competition on the poster.

Future - Obtaining - Becoming - Subconscious : stories about loss and gains. Tangible thing at the end of the road (=/= direction). Construction or destruction, opportunities to seize. Deep desires / fears and complete transformation of world and characters. Life-changing, inability to go back. Bottom-left: “powerful” BASIC; striving; feels focused Cynically - Every movie that makes money.

Choosing the right concerns + answers

I just want to say, this is a big deal, and the fact that it is intuitively deciphered is concerning to me. It ought to play more of a role in the Dramatica program itself, since I was SOOO off going on what I thought the answers were to my . I was doing a serious drama in light-hearted, humorous, warm-fuzzy. It kept feeling wrong.

But possibly, I’m quite a positive person and my optimism always wins…


I very much agree that it’s important and also that it’s not super-well understood, especially when you start. I think this is in part what @jhull is trying to do with his “trends” on Subtext, though I think the sample size is still too small in some cases.

The problem though is that it’s still subjective, where the Dramatica program and theory are striving for objectivity.

For example, top right Concerns frequently feel kind of light-hearted and youthful. Someone said “boy movies” in one thread. Star Wars! (There was no consensus on Captain Marvel, but I was arguing for that quad in part for a similar reason–girl power!). Even Romeo and Juliette fits this quad for me.

But Taxi Driver? Silence of the Lambs? I don’t see it. Maybe it’s because they have an OS Domain of Universe?

I would create my own subgenre of a certain kind of Universe-Progress stories. I call it the “society-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket” genre. Platoon, Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Silence of the Lambs, True Detective. Very different stories but that’s the feeling that unifies them in my mind (kind of).

Just my own caveat. Still extremely useful though.

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This is what pushed me to look into the Contextual Subgenres in the first place. There’s Something About Mary is in the upper-left area of the quads (Past/Understanding/Conceptualizing/Memory), but it doesn’t feel heavy whatsoever, nor does Singin’ in the Rain, or Young Frankenstein – and all feel very different to something like The Prestige or The Omen. The first three don’t feel heavy whatsoever, but the last two definitely have some weight to it.

I personally think that the ‘flavor’ in a story comes from a bunch of different factors, rather than just domain placement/dynamics. But Genre is a super hard thing to quantify in the objective language of Dramatica (though I think Subtext’s ‘trends’ are a really good attempt to do so), and I will admit that as someone who writes primarily comedies, I feel most at home in that upper-right quad.


I suppose it depends on the actual placement of the throughlines in the domains.

You could have it upside down, technically, if you switch the throughlines. You’re still in Progress - Doing - Being - Preconscious, but saying something else.

Maybe it’s inside out of happy-joy-joy: “Oh, great! (sarcastically)”
Hopeful vs Hopes dashed because of the judgment Bad.

Except for…
Silence of the Lamb and Cloudy_with a Chance of Meatballs
Both have the same placement of domain and throughline, and both Progress upper right quad.

One is bad dark broody, hopes dashed; one is good, thoughtful, upbeat

Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs has deep themes: Worry, Knowledge, Wisdom, Threat with success good
Silence of the Lambs has Confidence, Thought, Enlightenment, Security–which seem less heavy but with success bad

Looking at the Progress stories sorted (on Subtext) by Judgment, and compared with the MC/IC/RS in Progress, I don’t get a lightweight feel on that quad. I get “thoughtful”: Hope is on the line.

And if that’s the case, my Progress story is in that quad. Hope on the line. This is what is common between Meatballs and Lambs.

In itself, Progress is dealing with the sliding scale, and a person’s perspective for which direction it will/should move. I don’t think we can say that every story out there deals with hope. Sure, people have hope, but the tension inside the “evolution” flavor is hopes and dreams. (Which makes sense All Benchmarks will be in the “losses/gains striving” bottom-left domain).