Focus, Direction and OS Characters

I believe this topic has been discussed but I realized I need more clarity.

Let’s suppose I have a story in which the government is very concerned about keeping control of the populace (Order). Meanwhile a group of rebels responds to this by creating their own underground, anarchist economy (Chaos). The OS Concern is Understanding but I can’t illustrate the Goal yet.

How do I figure out/decide which of the Elements (Order and Chaos) is the Focus, and which is the Direction? The way it is in my mind now, each group views the other group’s element as the Symptom and their own behavior as the Response.

Am I missing something?

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Authors perspective. What are you trying to say about Order and Chaos? Does your message support the idea that Order seems to be the problem and chaos the attempt to correct it, or Chaos the problem and Order the attempt to correct it?


These groups are inside the story looking at the story. You have to step outside of that and say ‘this story is about solving problem/inequity X’ and then decide whether Order as Focus or Order as Direction is the best way to describe that problem/inequity. You’re setting the perspective of the Storymind in doing this. Until that perspective is set, you can’t really decide between the two.

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@Greg is right.

Separate yourself from the two groups, and see them as a single whole.

  1. What does the Author see the whole focusing on?
  2. What does the Author notice the whole is moving toward in the attempt resolve its issues?
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That makes sense for Problem and Solution … but isn’t Symptom and Response what the characters see as the problem?

Yeah, I guess I’m having a hard time with that. So when you have a story Goal, you can separate (usually) into Pro Goal (Protagonist) and against Goal (Antagonist). So what I’m saying here is I have two groups that disagree on whcih is the symptom and which is the response.

If you forced me to though, I guess I would say that everyone is focused on Order as the problem (keeping enough order, having too much order) and everyone focusing on Chaos as the response (setting up an anarchic system to get around government controls, crushing the anarchists).

So I guess that makes sense :slight_smile: though I could probably argue it the other way too :confused:

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It gets spoken of in that way at times, but I’d say that was either a short hand way of saying it or is just plain incorrect. I’d attribute everything to the Storymind and the Storymind is perspective.

Just because I love examples, let’s take an imaginary civil war. Both sides would say that they are really the patriotic side that is in the right and disagree on what taxes should be. And yet both sides, from an outside perspective, are focused on the raising of taxes as the problem they are dealing with (even though taxes are really only a symptom everyone’s issues of entitlement).

So would it make more sense in your story that everyone sees government control as the source of conflict and chaos as the attempt to solve it, or vice versa?


It sounds like you’ve got it… Keep in mind the term Focus doesn’t just mean “focused on as a problem” – it’s more generic, it can just mean “focused on”. That’s why it’s better than Symptom … it’s more broad and requires less weird phrase-twisting.

Like in a story where Help is the Focus, a group might be focused on providing help to someone. In that case they don’t see the help itself as the problem. They might see the person’s need for help, or helplessness, as problems, but you might have to twist things to see it that way.

Like if the person needing help was say, someone with cancer, and they were raising money for alternate treatments, they probably wouldn’t say “the problem is her need for help”. They’d say the cancer is the problem! But that doesn’t mean the Focus isn’t Help.

Still, I do find you can usually phrase it as Symptom decently. Like in the above example, maybe the inadequate help of standard chemo treatments is what they see as the problem…


I wouldn’t even bother thinking “problem” for the Focus. A Focus doesn’t always show up that way. Just, where is all of their attention?

As for the Direction, again, I wouldn’t consider it as their “response” to a “problem”, as again, it doesn’t always show up that way. Just, where do they direct their energy as a result of where their attention is?

Oh, and @mlucas, expounded upon what I’m saying before I even said it. :smiley:


You can’t by just focusing on Focus and Direction.

You need to see it in relationship with other Storypoints (Problem and Solution, MC Resolve, Story Outcome and Judgment in particular).


Somehow I missed this part earlier. But this is exactly right. You could argue it both ways…depending on your perspective. That’s why you have to pick a perspective to align with and stay true to that perspective.


If you don’t know, then I’m going to guess that ultimately neither one is going to be the Focus or Direction.

What I can see is that you have a setting for your story to play out (a controlling government and the anarchy rebelling against it). But this could easily be an OS Mind Story at this point, about people who Remember things being one way and want to make their country great again. Of course each side just wants the other to Understand they are not evil racists or spendthrift socialists (your current Goal), but unfortunately, that’s the subjective take on things. The real Dramatica battle is Aware/Self-Aware (Memory>Evidence>Elements), and the actual Goal is resolved in a Memorable Defeat of an external enemy that brings the country together by making them cast aside their Self-Aware ego and become Aware that their country needs to stand as one.


Now you’ve got me thinking @MWollaeger!

I actually have a lot more ideas that I won’t go into here, but I don’t think it’s a Mind story (though that would be cool – I love your take on it … hmm). I could entertain Psychology but I am leaning toward Physics for the OS with plenty of action/suspense/thriller elements.

I landed on Order and Chaos because of Inequity/Equity as the Problem/Solution. But I frequently find (in analysis of other stories, and in developing my own work) that I may zero in on the right Element quad but misplace Problem/Solution/Focus/Direction. So when we analyzed my first book (not written with Dramatica), I was initially convinced that the Problem was Inequity, until I realized that Inequity was the Focus, and the true problem was Desire.

Point taken. I was just wondering if a better understanding of Focus/Direction might help me place those other story points.


If you pick the Os Class and Problem and then move the MC back and forth between the two possible throughlines, won’t this flip the OS Focus and Direction? I wonder what the connection between Focus and Direction and which Class another perspective is in is. I mean, something deeper than or beyond ‘that’s how you keep the perspective aligned.’ Maybe that answer could help determine where to put a Focus and Direction.

Oh, interesting point!

There is absolutely a connection there but I need to puzzle it out. I think there must be a relationship to the Story Consequence.

If you flip the MC/IC you also flip the Growth, which in turn is connected to whether or not the story Consequences are in place at the beginning or if they only come up at the end.

So in my story, if the MC is Mind/Start, everyone is focused on the government’s imposition of Order (pro or con) to which they respond by creating or trying to crush an anarchist underground economy (Chaos, pro or con). The Consequence of the story (Conceptualizing–however I decide to illustrate it) will only come into place if the Goal of Understanding isn’t met.

With MC Universe/Stop, everyone is focused on Chaos (the underground economy) and trying to deal with (direction) the government’s imposition of order. The Consequence is already in place.

So what’s the connection between Focus, Direction and the story Consequence?


There’s probably a better answer to this, but when the direction is looked at as a response to a symptom or an attempt to correct the problem, it seems it would be an attempt to avoid or get rid of the consequences. So in your case, either government imposition or an underground economy would be an attempt to get rid of or avoid Conceptualizing. If you don’t know what the goal or consequences are yet, I doubt that’s particularly helpful, though.


Actually that articulates what I think I was trying to say. I agree though – I need to figure out Goal and Consequences.

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Yeah, I kinda just repeated what you said, didn’t I? Guess I was hoping I’d lead myself somewhere and failed. Haha.


Actually you articulated what I was trying and failing to articulate!


So I just did a little playing around by selecting OS throughline and problem and either OS focus or direction, or MC throughline and seeing what happens. Of course I only looked at a dozen or so different examples, but in everyone of them, if the OS and MC throughlines were in a companion pair, the OS problem and Focus were in a companion pair. If the OS and MC throughlines were in a dependent pair, the OS Problem and Focus were in a dependent pair. This also held true for the MC Problem and Focus. So there does seem to be a relationship between the OS and MC relationship and the os and Mc problem and focus relationships. Relationships between relationships!

But what does that mean? Why does the I and They perspective relationship match the OS and MC Problem and Focus relationship? And, more importantly, how can we describe that in a way that will help decide where to put Focus and Direction?


The model is fractal – the same relationship exists at the top that does at the bottom (because the bottom is, in fact, the top).