How does Dramatica determine Signpost order?

A factor, but not a major factor. The Main Character Mental Sex (aka Problem-Solving Style) has a major influence on signpost order.

You are trying to find too much direct causality where it does not exist. The story points indicates places or times where an author and audience have a shared view of the storyform, kind of like finding edges or meeting points in a pattern. Do not mistake these “edges and meeting points” for the factors that create the patterns. They are not the same and their relationships vary from example to example.

Catalysts accelerate the timeline. These are akin to pressing a gas pedal in a car.

Inhibitors decelerate the timeline. These are akin to pressing a brake pedal in a car.

Story drivers transition the timeline from one state of exploration to another. These are akin to changes in interim destinations while driving.

The timeline of the story is the piece that unifies these three types of story points.

The signposts can describe the process of creating the justification (steadfast stories) or tearing down the justifications (change stories). One, however, is not the simple reversal of the other.

When building up justifications, each level is built on and incorporates the previous level. It is not a layering effect so much as adding dimensions and new frames of reference and effort. Sort of like cooking. You may start off with the dry ingredients, but when you add the wet ingredients it not only combines with the dry ingredients but also alters both ingredients in the mixing. Baking adds temperature to the mix and alters the state of the combination as well. Combining the baked goods with other foodstuffs continues to transform each of the previous stages to create a new foodstuff.

At this point it is difficult to examine the product created and know which part is responsible for any particular aspect, though some are more apparent than others.

When tearing down justifications, you cannot reverse the process, e.g. you cannot “unbake the cake”, so to speak. Tearing down justifications explores the existence of a previously taken step. In other words, the Influence Character works to reveal to the main character (intentionally or not) that the MC had engaged in a particular process or state at some previous time in an effort to address the MC’s personal issue. Once the relevance of this stage has been explored and/or exhausted, the MC is thrust into exploring the next level of its long held justification for approaching its personal issues as it has in its past, and so on until the source of the inequity is revealed and the original approach to the inequity (the path created by following the MC problem element) is abandoned for the path promised by the MC solution element.

The difference between building up justifications and tearing them down is the difference between an egg and a chicken. :slight_smile:

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Chris, @chuntley, thank you. Your latest posts clarify a lot, at least for me.

Would it be correct to say that the PSR’s variation order for each Signpost can be seen as the issues one must contend with in order to tear down one of the levels of justification above, below, or within that variation quad?

Partially, but keep in mind the WHOLE STORY represents this process, not just one throughline. It is the entirety of the story that makes the argument. Each throughline represents a single perspective/aspect/frame of reference WITHIN the grand argument story.

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Yes, I should have added “for each Throughline” somewhere in there. :slight_smile: