Help sorting out a storyform

So I’ve got this story and I can’t quite figure out what the storyform is. I know this is because I don’t have a good grasp on the MC’s problem, so I’m trying to get around that.

Here’s the deal, roughly:
• Joe wants to start breaking rules to explode the size of their company.
• Brian (MC) does not want to do this. He’s principled.
• There is a murder (because of Joe) and Brian is in charge of finding out who committed the murder and why. In the course of doing this, Brian changes and is now willing to be corrupt, because of all the new information he learns along the way.

So… I think one of the Throughlines is in Conceiving or Conceptualizing, but I can’t figure out which one.

I can’t suss out if Brian is in Mind (his principles) or if the RS is in Mind because this is the thing they argue over: rule are meant to be followed vs rules are for chumps.

The fact that most of the story involves Brian remembering old conversations with Joe implies they could be in Memories together.

Anybody have any thoughts? Or want to throw probing questions at me?


Cognitive dissonance… Principle, but oh I get so much money and power and comfort if it is as Joe wants to let it be and has created, hey the world has never been a perfect place and the most important thing HAS to be I am comfortable and happy. That’s the perfect life responsibility for each human being. Minds are meant to be changed for a happier life?

Do you have a rough idea of the genre?

Is Joe the IC or do you have an idea of the IC perspective?

Is a Brian a change resolve? I don’t want to assume.

It’s like Succession.

Brian Changes.

Joe’s POV may be his push to be corrupt, but that may be the OS

Sounds cool. I haven’t seen Succession yet (it’s on my never ending list), but I’m pretty sure it’s a heavier Family Drama, right?

So, my approach to storyforming my own projects recently has been to try to get the Crucial Elements and Domains, then let Dramatica sort the rest out (the @jhull Genre-al approach). That’s why I was wondering if you knew the ending, since it determines the Crucial Elements in a Changed story…

Anyway if you can imagine the “You and I are alike”, you should have a good sense of the Crucial Elements. Since you have a changed resolve, either:

  • The MC is the OS problem and the IC is the OS solution (success)
  • The IC is the OS problem and the MC is the OS solution (success)

I think you’re probably going to wind up with OS Psychology and MC Mind, just by what you’ve described. But knowing the Goal and Outcome will nail sort that out either way.

Your mileage may vary.

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First thoughts:


If the murder is in service of exploding the size of the company, OS of Doing.

The story carries the message of the premise, meaning the story flows from the premise rather than premise from story. Trying to pull a premise from an incomplete story so that the story can then be pulled from the premise, then, is a bit of a circular exercise. If the premise of this story turns out to be something like “start taking action and you can save the day”, then breaking or following rules probably becomes something like reaction/proaction. Following the rules wouldn’t be about being accurate in this case. Following the rules would be a reaction to something. With that in mind, can you give us any kind of premise that is guiding the story, even if it doesn’t use Dramatica terminology?

Do I remember correctly that Jim thought Succession had an OS of Mind? This is a bit unusual – I wonder if that’s what’s tripping you up.

That said, my very rough first guess would be close to what @glennbecker said

OS Psychology/Conceptualizing:

This sounds like a) a problem that affects everyone and b) something that might have to do with the vision of the company (Conceptualizing), and a process of scheming that leads to a murder (like lots of psychological thrillers). Their relationship could suffer from very different understandings how to do things.

Starting this week I’m looking to Storyform all of Succession (both seasons) as an excuse to work up examples of television series both seasons abs episodes. Will be epic and starts this week in the Writers Room.

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How would you describe the Brian’s mental game of pickle?

  • I don’t want to do this because it goes against my principles…
  • BUT… but what? This new information changes… the nature of what his principles are based on? But this new information makes it personal?

I wouldn’t lean to heavy on the story involving him remembering old conversations. That could really be anything if it’s not a source of conflict. I often see people focus on what ends up being the Benchmark when they’re breaking down a story. Memories could be Past-ing as Benchmark, or Conceptualizing (going over the ideas in these memories to formulate a plan), or Understanding (trying to understand the conversations now in hindsight)…

Just like the question above, what is the nature of his mental dilemma? What’s that thing where he’s playing devil’s advocate with himself and doesn’t know which way to go?

Do you think the OS Goal has more to do with solving the murder, or growing the company?

Are Brian’s principles more like a naive idealism that he comes to see for what it is, or does he truly have a solid moral foundation that he abandons due to the events of the story?

These are all great questions and let me clarify some stuff now that I’m reacting to this thread.

• Rule-breaking. Joe’s plan doesn’t break any rules so much as it’s more like, “Let’s act like the bullies act.” It’s almost like, “we’ve been behaving, and they just do what they want. Let’s start doing what they do.”

• Brian always wanted to “act better than them”. Nobody wants to be a jerk, right? But over the course of the story, he sees that he (and his group) are being taken advantage of. He gets resentful of this, and by the end is like, “If that’s how they’ve been acting, we owe them nothing, and actually it will feel good to crush them.”

• The murder. Think of the murder as being a side-project. Investigating the murder is the means by which all the information comes out. Joe is the one murdered in an attempt to stop him from following through on a grand plan he’s cooked up. Through investigating why he was murdered, Brian learn about the plan and the history that drove Joe to make this plan—this is what converts him to take up the mantle and carry Joe’s plan forward. Whether or not the murder is solved doesn’t actually matter that much to the plot. (Maybe solving the murder is the OS Goal, and Brian taking up the mantle is the Dividend? Maybe solving the murder happens at the midpoint?)

• Potential Premise: Understanding that you’ve been fucked over without mercy for years and years, and you’ll find the motivation to cast your principles aside and seek revenge or seek power

• Something about the idea makes me think that the OS is definitely in Mind or Psychology

• The source of all the problems is that Joe has plans that many, many people do not want him to do successfully. Some people want them stopped altogether. Some people want to do them, but without Joe and for their own profit.

• Brian’s game of mental pickle is probably one of self-image. He has sought to find success on his own—it’s America, we can be anything we want. Turns out, not so much, and when he finds out that the game has been stacked against him, Joe, etc., he has the wool pulled from his eyes and decides to play the game everyone else has been playing.

• I don’t know if Brian is naive or if he has a solid moral foundation… my heart is telling me that he thinks he has a solid moral foundation, but discovers that he’s naive, which is why he changes.

• The OS Goal is one of many places where I’m tripping up. I know that Brian learns a lot and changes. I think this is in one of Conceptualizing/Conceiving/Understanding. Once he “gets it” the story is over—that probably narrows it to Conceiving/Understanding—but I don’t know if it’s Concern or Benchmark.

These things jump out to me:

  • expectations/determination; acceptance/non-acceptance; aware/self-aware.
  • Confusion with Concern, Benchmark, Dividends
  • Inexperience with stories where the stakes are tied to what is uncovered more than to the actual Goal. (Is Angel Heart like this? Training Day…?)

Thanks everyone!

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With this context, the story is sounding a lot more like OS Psychology, Conceptualizing.

A lot of what you added sounds like it could maybe point to Equity/Inequity, which would pair up nicely with:

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That’s what I was thinking: