How is Dramatica Theory understood, professionally


I recall someone mentioning last year that people don’t talk about using Dramatica for scriptwriting because of some stigma about it. @jhull , what have you found is the attitude toward the theory out in the field?

I know that people find my stories meaty, but I still hesitate to bring up Dramatica. I hesitate firstly because it has a high learning curve, and secondly it steps on the toes of the sacred Save the Cat/ Hero’s Journey paradigms.

I cringe at the idea that it would be considered akin to “Scientology,” but it IS a bit misunderstood and (at first-impression) mechanical.

Maybe in the 90s, but no one really thinks this anymore (if they ever did).

This is 2020–tech is an integral part of the creative process.

Off the top of my head, professionals who use Dramatica theory (Subtext, in particular) to help write some, part, or all of their stories: Michael DiMartino, Ed Bernero, Kater Gordon, Joy Lenz, Sebastien de Castell, Chris Sonnenburg, George Strayton, and others.

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There have been several decent to solid books published in the last 5 years or so dealing with the science of storytelling, more specifically psychology/neuroscience and audience reception. I think those really keen on storytelling who tend to look/read deeper into the subject are drawn to this “new” exploration. Fortunately, Dramatica has been well ahead of the curve on this and many of these books are essentially proving its significance - despite not approaching anywhere near its depth (granted, much is written on the how and why of the science.)

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Many people on your list are not writers. What is it they use it for?

Every single person I listed is a professional writer, i.e. someone who is specifically paid for writing stories.

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Do you know when DiMartino started using or studying the theory? I know someone who wrote for him and am curious how DiMartino used it in the writers’ room. I can ask and get an answer from the perspective of someone who may not have known it was being employed.

I can ask, but I’m pretty sure it’s after his time on Avatar: Last Airbender. (Well, after and before if you count the live-action Netflix version…)

I struggle to understand how Netflix could have let things get to the point where the creators left the show. Especially after the movie was panned so thoroughly.

Not that I expect you to be up on all things animation, but the movie version of Fullmetal Alchemist was :nauseated_face:

Anyway, I am curious when he got into Dramatica if you can ask for me.

In the future, we’d love to have a Writer’s Room where you interview Sebastien de Castell or Chris Sonnenburg or others, talking about how they use Dramatica. Thanks for sharing this list.

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In the late 90’s or early 00’s, I happened to meet someone at the airport that wrote Regency Romance novels that I had read (when still just delightful stories not the publisher later required ‘spicier’). I was so excited because I enjoyed her books, so much, and told her so. As we were going to different gates, I asked her if she had ever heard of Dramatica, and she flashed a big smile back, “I love it! I use it all the time. Isn’t it just great?!”