Good or Bad Judgement?

The Judgment seems to tell if the MC’s personal problems (angst) are resolved, but I heard it could be about how the objective characters feel about the goal too, it would say mostly how the objective and subjective characters feel about the success/failure of the goal. Is that true or is it only about the MC’s personal problem? Or maybe it feels that way due to the Story Costs?

Can it also be about how the MC feel about their problem? For example, the MC feels fulfilled, have anything he wanted at the end of the story. But, deep down, he doesn’t know his problems are still there, eventually waiting to reappear. Would it be Good because the MC feels good at the end, or Bad because his problems still are left unsolved? I think the “waiting to reappear” part isn’t important, since the storyform only cares about the story told now, not what would happen next or could have happened, but that it would still be Bad.

It’s been a few months ever since I started to learn Dramatica, and I had some doubts about the Judgment I wanted to end, even though I’m probably overthinking it. I’m asking this because in my story, the objective characters feel bad about the failure of the goal, but the MC feels fine, even though some of his problems are unresolved. So I hesitate between Failure/Good and Failure/Bad.

Since I always took it as how I felt about the judgement, and the MC is the audience’s experience view. you might be right. (I as the audience, not theory expert, of course. We’ll see what the experts say.)

My understanding is that it is neither of those…Judgement is audiences take (good or bad) on the outcome of the main character’s fate. But I could be wrong.

Theoretically, it’s the Author’s judgment on whether or not the Main Character’s decision to Remain Steadfast or Changed in their Resolve was a Good or Bad thing.

What are you trying to say with your story?

In Star Wars, changing from Test to Trust is a good thing. Same argument in the LEGO Batman movie. In Call Me By Your Name changing from Rejection to Acceptance is a a Good thing. In Three Billboards, defending against the indefensible—while objectively a failure—is good in terms of vindication.

If you figure out your Narrative Argument first, aligning the Storypoints is more a matter of honoring your artistic intent more than it is intellectualizing Good judgment from a Bad one.


This is a bit weird, the MC feeling fine even though some of his problems are unresolved. Are these unresolved problems really the MC throughline personal issues that he was dealing with throughout the story? Why does he feel fine if they are unresolved?

Is it possible the unresolved issues are part of a different story-context, like a series storyform? (If so, that’s totally cool; at the end of Star Wars (1977) Luke still has some father issues that weren’t fully addressed but they don’t prevent that story from being a Success/Good Triumph.)

Or are you as the Author saying his feeling “fine” is kind of a bad thing – like he’s ignoring something important, or is stupidly oblivious to it, and it’s obviously going to wreck him?

This is probably just the Outcome – even in Failure/Good (Personal Triumphs), the objective characters may wish they had reached the Goal. The question to ask yourself is how bitter they feel at the end. Or as Jim says, just don’t worry about it and focus on the MC, who portrays the Judgment the best.

Yes, something along these lines. I was wondering if it would be a Good or Bad Judgment, or if it’s totally unrelated to the storyform.

I see: it reflects the Author’s judgment on the efforts toward achieving or failing the goal, which is best portrayed through the MC’s emotional state.

I feel like some of the meaning of this appreciation is being lost in the short hand.

I like Jim’s audience appreciation of Resolve/Judgment as it would make something Analogous to story nature for the MC. Like we might call that MC Nature or something more interesting. Movies like Black Swan blur the lines between the judgment and the feeling at the end because the costs can be high and the dividends can be low.

But, an even bigger issue is that the author can mean the opposite of what they put out there. Thanks, Derrida!

The judgment refers to whether or not the main character has resolved their personal problems and whether or not the core inequity between all four throughlines was resolved regardless of the outcome/resolution of the other three throughlines.

The judgment impacts the whole story because this single imbalance dominates the rest. This is part of what makes it the fourth element of a quad that is at a different level than the rest of the elements in that quad.

100% yes this. That’s why it’s STORY Judgment, not MC Judgment.

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How does it work in regards to a character that changes for the worse and the judgement is bad? e.g The Godfather

If a change character means the personal problem is solved by the solution. And the judgement is bad - the character hasn’t resolved their personal angst. Those two things don’t seem to match up, it feels like their either solve their personal problem or they don’t. Or are they referring to two seperate things?


I think it works better to think of Change as a major paradigm shift. In a Judgement Good story, that will usually look like they’ve solved their personal problem in a good way.

But in something like the Godfather-- yes, he definitely has a major paradigm shift. And this “solves” his problem in the sense that he’s not conflicted about his role in the family anymore. But the Judgement is not good (as seen when he shuts the door on Kay).

This is where the nomenclature can be a little confusing. Adopting the Solution means the Change character changed their perspective on their personal issues, but it doesn’t automatically mean they resolved those issues.

So Resolve (Change vs. Steadfast) does tell you whether the character adopts their Solution element. But Judgement is a completely separate thing.

Does that make sense?


Huh…I guess I had been wrong about this. I’ve got a story I’ve imagined will end bittersweet. The MC changes his resolve, and as the Author I think it is Good that he does so, but the MC himself feels disillusioned. The protagonist succeeds in her goal, so then it’s a Success/Good story…can you still have something like that even if it is a “downer” ending? I found the premise sounded right “While tragic to the individual…” yes, it is tragic for my MC to realize something, but it’s also Good that he does so. How does that work? Is it just a matter of storytelling at that point and not coded into the storyform?

Editing to post this from Melanie’s blog as reference for why I am confused:

Hmm. So you’re using “Good” kind of like “should” – as Author you think the MC should change his perspective, and he does. Yet you still want him to end up disillusioned.

I think that could still work with a Judgment of Bad. Like you’re saying “yes this MC needed to wake up and Change, even though it ended badly for him, at least he grew up”.

A good test would be, look at all the other characters in the story. Are they mostly satisfied at the end, free of angst and bitterness? Or are they disillusioned or bitter as well?

It’s also possible you have a Success/Good with a high Cost paid by the MC. What is the Cost Type?

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Yes, exactly. It’s a bitter but necessary awakening. It works out pretty well for the other characters -they get what they wanted at the beginning of the story and are satisfied. The cost is The Future, which works out since that is essentially what the MC sacrifices. It just feels weird to classify this as a Triumph with no caveats! When I saw the premise I was like, yep, this checks out! But I may need to revisit it?

Okay, cool. Does the relationship end badly? That can also contribute to a “downer” feel.

I think the best thing to do would be to look for analyzed Success/Good stories that have this sort of high Cost, slight downer, ending, and see if they feel anything like your story. You could solicit help from others on this board in finding those (how high the Cost is isn’t something you could tell from just the storyform, so you would need to be familiar with the story).

Braveheart is the quintessential example of high Cost. I’m thinking Blade Runner: 2049 might also be a good one just because there was some discussion in this thread around whether the Judgment was Good or Bad (I haven’t seen that film yet though! :frowning: )

EDIT: @crayzbrian also mentioned Black Swan above.

Also, are you sure your Outcome is Success (Goal achieved)?

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Yes, I am very sure. And no, the relationship doesn’t end badly. They go their separate ways, but that’s not really a major contributing factor in the tone of the ending (I mean, it is, but ultimately this story is about how dangerous having blind faith can be, so it is a Faith -> Disbelief story. Is that possibly the only reason this is a ‘downer’ ending?). I am kind of getting all mixed up here. I guess I thought Judgment was more about how the MC felt aka “resolving his personal angst.” Is my MC happy that he can no longer believe in something? Well, no! It’s pretty disenchanting! But I guess you could argue that the problem he had to start out with has been resolved, and has opened the way for him to continue growing rather than running in place.

This is really making me rethink the basics that I thought I had down. It had always bothered me that in one of the reports in Dramatica it said my IC was wrong about how she influenced my MC and I remember thinking, no, she’s totally right, it just sucks for him! :sweat_smile:

Editing because I went back and looked at the article I linked:

A Success/Bad story might end with a Main Character achieving his dreams only to find they are meaningless, or Main Character who makes a sacrifice for the success of others but ends up bitter and vindictive. Each of these would be a “personal tragedy.

I would say my MC falls in this category (“vindictive” is a strong word, but he certainly doesn’t feel Good about it!)… Now I am really spinning my wheels!

Melanie goes further to say

Because Success and Failure are measurements of how well specific requirements have been met, they are by nature objective. In contrast, Good and Bad are subjective value Judgments based on an appreciation of the Main Character’s personal fulfillment.

Is my MC’s problem resolved, and therefore satisfied? Yes. Is he fulfilled at the end? No.

It’s starting to make more sense now. Thanks

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