How do you distinguish between Effect and Result?

I read the definitions and all the gists, but I can’t differentiate between effect and result.

What are 3 concrete examples that are effects and NOT results?

What are 3 concrete examples that are results and NOT effects?


Cause and Effect are Linear/Male/Particle-based.

Process and Result are Holistic/Female/Wave-based.

Your question is akin to asking what are 3 concrete examples of Signposts that are not Journeys, and 3 concrete examples of Journeys that are not Signposts.

It’s all about the context of the surrounding thematic elements - the other pair within the quad, and the “parent” Elements above.

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If I explain this to you, the result will be that you understand but the effect will be that you can write scenes with the terms.


If I wear perfume and you’re allergic to it, your sneeze is the result of an allergy but the effect of the perfume. If you weren’t allergic to it, the effect might be pleasant or not, but you wouldn’t get the sneeze as a result.


I feel like I understand the distinction less. I really am trying.

Can the same example be either an effect or a result? If so, then what tips the scales?

Which of these is (or can be) an effect? A result? Which could go either way? How can you tell? Does it come down to: one is paired with a cause and one is paired with a process?

A criminal’s loot
Rescuing a captive
Knowledge of a secret identity
Escape from jail
Winning a nomination
A better society

The above are from the analyses of The Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver. If you were to move the examples from “effect” to “result” and vice versa within the same throughline, I feel like I would digest the analysis the same either way.

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I’m not sure there is much point to even look for this distinction? In any case I think you’re looking in the wrong place when you look at these specific examples. The difference is in the context and perspective and what’s important about the specific thing (e.g. “revenge”) in that particular story.

It’s like you’re taking this:
…and trying to label it as one specific item and no other. But to an engineer, it’s a crucial component of some complex machine. To a child, it’s the crowning glory of their marble collection. A vast difference – yet the identical “example” object in both cases.

EDIT: Yes, you could say it’s just a ball bearing, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But working with Dramatica I think it helps to be a little skeptical of the English verb “to be”. Is it really a ball bearing? To the child I think it’s more true to say it “is” a (really cool) marble.

This is a big part of it. Also, I think you can look at the gist/illustration lists and pick out certain ones that clearly show the character of each in a way that doesn’t overlap. For example Having an effect on someone – that’s about the fact that you had an effect, that you mattered – not specifically about what the effect was. So you can really feel Effect there. If you try to apply Result to that idea you get a very different sense – then it’s more about getting results from whatever you were trying to do.


What does this mean?

A good primer on the subject is here: Is it a Wave or a Particle? It’s Both, Sort Of.

As with everything in Dramatica, it all depends on how you are looking at something (the context). The inequity of a story appears one way from the Main Character point-of-view and another from the Influence Character point-of-view. There is no “right” answer, which is why asking, “What is the difference between Effect and Result?”, is difficult to answer. The best way to get a close approximation of it is to understand the context of its definition.

The Plot Progression of a story consists of both Signposts or Journeys. You can look at the structural “particle” version of progression as 1234 OR you can look at the temporal “wave” version of progression as 1-2-3. In the latter, we appreciate how 1 moves to 2 and 2 moves to 3 - those are the Journeys. In the former we appreciate 1 in how it relates to 2, and then how 2 relates to 1 and 3, and so on. Those are Signposts.

The preference for particle over wave extends to the idea of Male and Female Mental Sex in Dramatica. The Male/Linear mind prefers spatial considerations such as Signposts, whereas the Female/Holistic mind prefers temporal considerations such as Journeys. If you find yourself gravitating towards one train of thought more than the other, it can be helpful to use that as a basis for understanding Plot Progression. If you tend towards Linear thought, Signposts will be your thing. If you find yourself more Holistic in thought, Journeys will appear far more attractive to you.

Cause, Effect, Process, and Result appear together ONLY within the context of Universe. You can liken this to an appreciation of how the physical Universe is “progressing” through particles (Cause and Effect) or waves (Process and Result). Both exist in the same space and time, the question is which pair is the Problem and Solution, and which is the Symptom and Response.

Again, there is no right answer because all that matters is how you the Author set the context for which is problematic and which one is only symptomatic of the problem.


What’s funny is that I see Effect as Wave-based and Result as a particle. Not that I’ve really thought about it this way, but that surprised me.

“Waves don’t really bounce off of, but instead interfere with, one another.”

This will be changing how I tell stories. Thank you for the article.

A cause is like a big truck that pushes everything out of its way. So it is a particle.
But if you are doing something is must go through a process, which interferes but does not alter.

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Forgive me if I overlooked something basic until now (or if it’s offbase and I’m just grasping), but is this correct? The something that has a cause and an effect should be different from the something that has a process and result. Or not necessarily?

For example, in The Silence of the Lambs, the cause/effect is about the serial killer (what is his motive, identity, etc?) while the process/result is about the kidnapped victim and the other victims (what process should we follow to learn more? what results are being pursued?). The killer & victims are certainly related, but the cause/effect are more specific to the killer while the process/results are more specific to the victims. Or is this distinction a non-essential red herring?

Also, is an effect closer to a discrete event while a result is closer to a collection of circumstances or tradeoffs that occurred as a consequence in the environment?

This is how I look at the “difference” between the two.

As for The Silence of the Lambs, that’s the closest approximation to identifying Problem and Solution given everything else happening in the story. I would never look to Contextual Examples for definitive answers as to the definitions of Elements.

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It’s been a long time since I saw it, so this is from memory, but if I were illustrating these story points it would be:

  • OS Problem of Cause: Everyone is drive by their own “mission” (having a cause) – the serial killer has his own twisted cause and the FBI characters are on a mission to stop him.
  • IC Problem of Cause: Lecter is driven to provoke (instigate, incite) Clarice.
  • MC Problem of Unending: The lambs never stop screaming
  • MC Focus of Process: Clarice spends the movie trying to figure out what makes these serial killers tick (understand their process). As a Steadfast character, this is the Work she needs to do to solve the OS Problem.

EDIT: Adding in OS Focus and Direction:

OS Focus of Process: The FBI wants you to follow procedure …
OS Direction of Result: … but Crawford is under pressure to get results so he promotes Clarice early from training and gives her the assignment to interview Lecter.

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Dwindling sales cause company wide layoffs which have an effect of keeping the company solvent for the moment.

The process of saving money through various budget cuts results in poor employee morale and a fearful work staff more concerned with keeping a CYA approach to doing business than doing the best job they can do.

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