How is the RS connected to the rest?

How is the RS connected to the rest? I’ve heard it called “the heart of the story” and the “we” perspective, but that doesn’t tell me much about how it functions in relation to the other throughlines. For everything else, you could say that the IC forces the MC to confront personal problems, which impacts how/whether the OS problem is solved, but what about RS? How does it affect the overall message?


I think about like this, though it isn’t entirely accurate:

The OS would be the logical argument. I see it as a chess game among the various functions (characters) and the “objective” value they have in continuing or resolving the perceived problem. Perhaps the way Data from Star Trek would analyze the group, if external from the story.

The RS would be an emotional argument. It’s the internal view of the group interactions, and how one might effect another when resolving or continuing the perceived problem. Perhaps the way a sterotypical “heart-heavy” person would analyze the group, if external from the story.

Note: I use the term “argument” as logic, philosophy, mathematics, and the customer in the Monty Python Argument Clinic skit generally attempt to define it. (The presentation of a set of premises that can lead to a certain conclusion.)

As I said, though, this isn’t completely accurate, but it helps me in my writing.


It affects it in a way that probably isn’t apparent from where you’re currently standing.

The MC is not a real person. The IC is not forcing them to change or remain steadfast.

If that were the case then the RS would be forcing the OS to change and vice versa.

The same relationship exists.

The story is a “person” and these Throughlines are what go in that mind for a split second.

The real question to ask is what effect do our relationships have on the world?

Dramatica theory would say there is an answer.


I don’t mean IC takes MC in a headlock and screams “Do it this way!” :sweat_smile: but doesn’t the IC’s conflict affect how MC deals with an issue (its POV), which affects what the MC does in the OS, affecting the outcome for everyone?

If a premise statement includes something from OS and MC throughlines, would it be possible to make one that includes IC and RS so a writer can get an overview of how the POVs impact each other to form the overall message?

In real life or how RS relates to OS? I’m just looking for a practical way to think of how these throughlines are connected so I can get writing instead of constantly changing storyforms.


In other words, I wouldn’t worry about how they’re connected and I would just write. You’re not going to be able to logic the connection between the RS and the OS in the same way that you can’t logic out the same connection in your “real” life.

Dramatica is specifically biased towards the MC and OS, that’s why the Crucial Element is a function of the MC and OS, NOT the IC or RS.

You could likely come up with a Premise statement that included the RS but that would require an entirely different model and one that would frankly be more about waves and colors and would be almost impossible to put into words.

The IC and the RS are along for the ride…just like they are in our own lives.


I think the very best thing you can do is just know that they ARE connected by virtue of the storyform you’re using, and the fact they’re taking place together in the same story.

Then you can just focus on making the relationship MATTER to you, feeling it in your gut as you write. The story points, as long as you follow them, will take care of the rest.

As far as not being able to nail down a single storyform, I don’t think anyone really can before they begin writing. Just pick the best candidate, start writing, and try to follow it. If at some point you’re following the storyform but your gut says no, that doesn’t feel right, always trust your gut. (it might be the storyform is wrong, or you’re just not interpreting it properly)

(Oops, cross-posted with Jim)


From what I understand, the RS is NOT directly connected to everything else. Something that was pretty eye-opening to me in the past few weeks was to think of the “Relationship Story” not as describing the relationships present in the story… but much more specifically–describing the Force between the relationships.

For example…

In “Star Wars” it’s the force of the Way of Thinking that drives the relationships in the story.
In “Young Frankenstein” it’s the force of the Situation that drives the relationships in the story.

And you can track that force throughout.


I know this isn’t really the answer you’re looking for, but all throughlines are connected by the central inequity. We couldn’t get the fullest possible view of that inequity without the RS view.

The MC and IC are both about individuals while the OS and RS are both about relationships. The difference between OS and RS is like the difference between Space and Time–how things are laid out vs how things are played out. The OS stands outside of the individuals and looks at the relationships while the RS stands inside the individuals and looks at the relationships (or something to that effect).

The RS, at least to me, seems to be the one that comes from left field within the quad of perspectives. If OS, MC, and IC provide a more structural view, the RS would provide a more dynamic view. That’s why we say the RS is about how the relationship is always growing closer or further, weaker or stronger. That’s how the RS functions in relation to the other throughlines.

The storymind justifies (picks an area of the quad in which to attempt to solve the inequity) a personal perspective. This is the MC perspective. But then the storymind will look at the inequity from another perspective to see how the inequity would look from that angle. This second perspective takes place within the same storymind. Looking at the inequity from that second perspective within the same mind will help the storymind to continue building up justifications for its personal perspective, or it will help the storymind to tear down those original justifications so that it can move its personal perspective to that second perspective and justify its new position. Because the very act of looking at that second perspective will reinforce or tear down the storyminds personal justifications, that second perspective is necessarily creating an influence on the personal perspective. This is the IC perspective. The MC and IC perspectives are in the same mind.

When Jim says “the MC is not a real person. The IC is not forcing them to change…” he’s not saying the IC is a person who influences an MC person and the way the IC does that is not by taking the MC in a headlock and screaming do it this way but by some other means. He’s saying that the MC and IC are both perspectives of, or within, the same person. The influencing of the IC on the MC is just that person deciding which way they prefer to tackle the inequity. The MC and IC characters are just stand ins for the processes of holding each of those perspectives.

The reason that the MC and OS work together and seem so important to the story is, as Jim said, because the current model is built around those two. Look at your story engine. You have MC dynamics and OS plot dynamics. You don’t see IC or RS dynamic questions because everything in those is already determined by the MC and OS dynamics. The model was built around the OS and MC because the model itself had to take a perspective.


I have an indirect answer to this.

The difference between a Tale and a Story is that one is a statement and the other is an argument. And thing about arguments is that they are nuanced and come with the knowledge that things are complicated, have their costs, benefits and unforseen consequences.

The RS in a certain way is a reminder that we have to remember that we can’t look at every problem the same way from every perspective.

Case in point, if you set the OS Problem and the RS Problem to the same element, the story ends in Failure. Being too singleminded will not work.

(Note: this isn’t really how the system works, because we don’t get to choose how we look at things.)

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I’d say that it gives depth to the things being dealt with, and another angle on the types of conflicts involved.

It’s the heart of the story, maybe enabling the reader to empathize more with the character, though perhaps the RS does not “have to” be connected.

Since we’re free to spin it the way we want, in my WIP, the RS (heart of the story) which is “just along for the ride,” also is a Venue for the MC to deal with her issues, it pushes it to a point that requires a change. Because she has the RS, she is put into situations she wouldn’t otherwise be in to test her resolve, to fine-tune her problem, to reveal her UA and CF, etc.

That’s how I do it. In a previous work, the RS (with IC) was the driving force that forced the MC to finally STOP.

In another WIP, the RS is the reason for the angst that is affecting the OS. Until there is resolution, the OS can’t go the way the MC needs it to go.

Anyhow, just a way to see there are options for how RS is connected. I can’t do an RS that is sticking out like a different entity. I have to have it carry a part of the story and feed into the resolution “somehow.”

I like how you’ve explained this. I’m not well read or erudite enough to know if this is a western bias in story telling/selling, or if it is a global perspective.


It’s a Western bias 100%. Potentially even a specifically American bias. (French films for sure skew to a different part of the chart than American films, which tend to end up in Pursuit/Avoid.)

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I would think that the Outcome affecting what the RS Problem is would’ve indicated some affect on overall meaning.

It is the immediate scrambling, percolating the other throughlines. In the '80’s I read hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of romances (before publishers required soft p). It was a way to learn writing by immersing myself in all kinds of possible stories in a genre which worked combined with other genres and time periods. They were RS focus, with the OS threading through in a more minor way. Then I got into some mysteries, that were more OS focus. I had read all the sci fi stories written before 1972 (then took a break … haha).

The RS determines the reader’s satisfaction, what the reader looks for in fiction. The RS is the writer’s entertaining journey/message to the reader, even if only the writer reads it. It can be combined with the OS in unlimited ways. If you are stumbling over many re-starts of storyforming, maybe a series is in the making or a string of short stories. Finish one fun one. What’s fun for you to write is the key, as you go along. I get that in this ongoing crazy world, we can feel vulnerable. Maybe, the RS is a kind of metaphor, letting us write with a shield.

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This is interesting. When writing my fiction, I often find the RS story the most rewarding and dear to my heart in writing it. The RS is the conversation in my head between the argument and counter argument, the offspring of my deliberations. And one loves one’s offspring. I often find my RS driving the story more than the MC or OS.


Totally agree with this.

Maybe this is best for a different thread, but do people have good examples of RS throughlines where the characters drift apart?

Sweet Smell of Success is the only one that jumps to mind for me, and I’d have to watch it again to be sure. I’m mostly basing it on one specific final image that mostly pertains to the IC.


Remains of the Day comes to mind.

Iron Man and Captain America in Captain America:Civil War.

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In The Remains of the Day, they’re really growing together throughout most of the story, right?

Black Swan. That’s assuming I remember correctly and the RS is with the mother.

If so, then Whiplash also comes to mind.