Has anyone outlined the Step-by-Step Development for Act, Sequence, and Scene creation found within ‘Dramatica for Screenwriters’? I’m a bit confused on the entire process, and it would be helpful to see each step summarized in an outline (particularly the 64 scenes from the Plot Sequence Report).
Have you outlined anything with Dramatica without using the PSR, or is this your first go?
This will be my first go.
I’ve read Dramatica Theory and Dramatica for Screenwriters, yet I’m still confused on how to make it all work in the creation of it all. I understand the storyform, but extracting its form into an outline seems to bewilder me, especially the ordering of sequences from the Variations level and the underlying Character Elements as scenes, and even more so the events.
I would suggest you have a basic outline, bare-bones skeletal if you will, of your story. Know some key points and ending first can be very helpful because you’ll know where you’re going with it, how to design reversals in the scenes while staying on track with your signposts, etc. If you don’t have the basics of your story and don’t know where it’s going, you might find it frustrating.
The first story I used it on I had let marinate in my brain stew for a bit and already had several key points in mind along with the ending so it helped me flesh out a lot of the so-called “in-between stuff” and make it as interesting as I could. The second story, I knew where it was going but didn’t have as strong of a grasp on what I was trying to say and was developing scenes as I went along and it wasn’t as easy.
If it’s your first go, I would really stress doing the bigger picture things first.
Also, you’re going to stumble on lots of the vocabulary, so use the dictionary ALL THE TIME.
Totally agree, @MWollaeger. I used Dramatica for my NaNoWriMo this year and had the dictionary up and ready in an alphabetical search mode, so I could slide right down to a particular term at any time. I find just reading the terms, and keeping them in mind while considering the context of a story appreciation I’m contemplating, offers wonderful brainstorming possibilities and opportunities to add additional layers and nuances to scenes.
I had my Dramatica story form, with the basics filled out. I also used the PSR for the Acts, Sequence and Scene creation and used Armando’s U, Z or hairpin forms to structure and compact the acts and sequences.
I had read his book again in October so it was fresher in my mind. I had never understood the slide-bump dynamics of the U, Z and hairpins until this reading - and then through fiddling with my story outline. In doing so the principle made more sense. So, @okcthunderx you might just give Armando’s book another good read, then try to use his methodologies one by one. I first illustrated as many of the basic story appreciations for each throughline I could, then did an Instant Dramatica pass through (which is rather powerful tool), before I even tried to use the PSR to develop sequences and scenes.
One discovery I made using Armando’s slide-bump distinction was that, contrary to the most often promoted 4 act structure I find discussed and defaulted to in Dramatica theory, the way the Signposts of my OS throughline flowed suggested that my OS was actually a 3 act structure (bump-slide-bump, moving from Understanding to Doing-Obtaining then to Learning). Stepping back and looking at the story it made sense. Of course within that, my MC throughline is bump-bump-bump (feeling like 4 acts, moving from Subconsious to Conscious to Preconscious to Memory), the IC is bump-slide-bump (feeling like 3 acts, moving from The Past to Progress-Future to The Present), and the RS is slide-bump-slide (feeling more like 2 acts, moving from Conceiving-Conceptualizing to Being-Becoming). This creates a more woven dynamic between the throughlines that adds an interesting feel to the story. I’m constantly fascinated by the various ways one can naturally knit a story together using Dramatica. It’s just amazing stuff to be learning, more and more, each time I use it.
My latest podcast, How to Outline Your Story with the Plot Sequence Report discusses the approach I use with screenwriters, novelists, and producers. It’s totally based on Armando’s book with a bit of my own experience thrown in. I’ve used the approach I discuss on documentaries, novels, and screenplays with great success.
This week I’m planning on writing an article wrapping up the podcast discussion. I’ll post a link here when finished!
The podcast is first rate and immediately useful, especially the idea that emphasis can determine the resolution. I’ve tended to ignore the PSR because I’ve always struggled with, “how on Earth can I fit all these points in there (at all–never mind artfully)?”
Here or in a future article, could you please clarify/expound on concrete examples of what you mean by a beat in that context? What is the range of possibilities? Could something as short as one line of dialogue qualify? Or something as long as a one-minute series of actions? Thank you.