How do elements relate to the 28 magic scenes?

Hi. According to Dramatica theory: “Scenes are containers that hold Elements–anything larger cannot get crammed in without breaking. Scenes describe the change in dynamics between Elements as the story progresses over time. And since Elements are the building blocks of characters, scenes describe the changing relationships between characters.”

However, the 28 magic scenes are presented as plot points of signposts and journeys as well as thematic conflicts derived from the Variations. So where do the Elements come into our story planning? There are 64 Elements to explore but only 28 scenes. Thanks.

I was just about to take a stab at answering your question(s) but then I saw that you are asking about elements in terms of characters/ scene/dynamics in addition to many other things.

It’s a complicated answer. But, fortunately, many people have already asked. So maybe start with doing a search for the subject of PSR (plot sequence report) and scenes, which will answer parts of your query.

Then, whatever unanswered questions you may have you can return?

PS. If you look under my profile, I’ve bookmarked a ton of PSR and elements threads. I believe scene threads are in there too.

Happy hunting :slight_smile:

Hi Whitepaws,

I specifically want to know how the elements relate to the 28 scenes. For example, should each character in a given scene illustrate one or more of the 64 elements?


Hi TJ,
Welcome to Discuss Dramatica!

I may be wrong, but I don’t think most writers use the “28 Magic Scenes” from the theory book. Signposts and PSR (Plot Sequence Report) tend to get used a lot more.

For a brilliant approach representing the most up-to-date thinking (consider the theory book was published many years ago), see this post:

Jim describes how to adjust the number of scenes by going into more or less detail for different throughlines using the Plot Sequence Report.

For a similar approach with more detail, you can consult the book Dramatica For Screenwriters (Chapters 18 and 19, but the whole book is worth reading through several times).

Finally, I wouldn’t worry about what each character in a scene should illustrate. If you’ve assigned elements to the characters (Archetypes or Complex Characters), feel free to have whichever elements come out that seem to work in the scene. Otherwise, just do it by feel.

To me, the concept that each scene contains an Activity, an Attitude, a Situation, and a Manner of Thinking – all operating as a Dramatic circuit – is the most powerful advice Dramatica offers at the scene level. A bit more detail can be found by clicking the link from this quote (but don’t concern yourself with the rest of the thread, it quickly gets crazy):


I agree! It’s just too much to hold in your head while you write. At least that’s what I’ve noticed. In your second or third draft, you can review how the characters are working out, and insert the elements if you’ve missed any. Chances are you haven’t.

I also agree with @mlucas that the [quote=“mlucas, post:5, topic:2136”]
an Activity, an Attitude, a Situation, and a Manner of Thinking – all operating as a Dramatic circuit

is so helpful when constructing a scene! I used it recently as a guide to one of my own scenes and the scene ended up having more pep.


Here is a great article by @jhull which has some great advice re elements and characters:

(I c&p’d it from another thread ;))