How to make a story form around "People need X" conflict?

I would think it could be either depending on what you want to say.

So the more experienced human represents the “not share responsibility” position?

Yeah. Maybe taking the lead too much.

Or maybe the experienced one takes things for granted until he’s assigned an eccentric partner. This would cause a change.

I don’t really know. I’m interested in fish out of water stuff like an android learning how to human (I think that both learning from each other’s differences would lead to better crime-solving), but that’s not a conflict. I don’t know how to glean the structure out of the fun storytelling parts of writing.

If it helps, I imagine the Story Goal of a seasonal arc for a crime procedural would be Doing because all the characters connected to the station want to keep doing their jobs. Or would it be Being since they want to do their jobs well, and for the android, at least, it’s all he exists for. I could see Obtaining because they all want to keep their jobs (in the android’s case, he wants to keep his life.).

So, for example (just an example!)

You could put the OS Concern as Obtaining (catching the bad guy)

MC Resolve is Steadfast

So while fish out of water sounds like Universe (and could be), I think a more obvious choice could be Mind/Subconscious. The android fears being different from others, suffers prejudice because of what he is (or will suffer that if he is discovered), fears being discovered etc.

The other cop is in Universe then-- stuck babysitting this weird partner.

Now if you look at the choices for the IC problem, the one that jumps out at me is Control – this cop is driven to maintain control of the situation, refusing to let the MC do anything.

Of course the cool thing about Dramatica is that it gives you other options, and forces you to get specific. Maybe the cop’s need to do things on his own is less about his need to Control and more about his skepticism that his new partner is capable of doing anything (Disbelief).

But keeping Control as the problem, you end up with an RS of Commitment, which sound kind of good. If it’s Disbelief, that forces the RS into Responsibility – their relationship grows as they are forced to take responsibility for one another.

Then you start to build out the rest. Maybe you start with the MC. Is his problem that he keeps getting in his own (and everyone else’s) way (Hinder)? Or is it that is that as an android, he is constantly failing to Consider the needs of his human companions (they just don’t cross his mind)?

It’s not about the grape. It’s about the perspective on the grape. It’s saying that arguments aren’t usually one person saying it’s black while another says no, it’s white, but rather one person saying it’s black and white while the other person says no, it’s shades of gray. Or one person says it’s a particle and the other says no, it’s a wave…Or that one person will argue that the problem is the color of the grape while the other will argue that the problem is the shape of the grape.


I like some of the things going on when I choose Change and MC Problem of Unproven (I get IC Problem of Test and the relationship has a lot to do with keeping MC’s cover from being blown and educating him on human stuff…but I guess that’s storytelling and doesn’t count), but when I try to phrase it as a Premise, it sounds clumsy: “Give up on being unproven and you can keep working.” You can’t give that up. You have to Prove yourself to earn it, yet the storyform says it’s Stop.

Hmm - I don’t know if I would worry about the exact phrasing of the premise (though I think the way Jim has it now instead of “stop…” it’s “get out of your way”).

Why wouldn’t that count? Plugging in what you have gives an RS Issue of Knowledge which I think could fit with the challenge of keeping his real identity Unknown and the problem there’s a lot of human stuff he doesn’t Know about.

Here’s how I might start with a statement of conflict and get to a storyform.
My statement of conflict is going to be “The pen is mightier than the sword, and yet actions speak louder than words”. Basically, one can work through the spreading of thoughts and ideas, or one can work through physically taking action. Both, under the proper context, are true, and yet in every context one of them must be false.

For this story, I want to argue that taking the perspective that the pen is mightier than the sword is the way to success. That means that I see the perspective of action speaking louder than words as the problem. Taking action sounds a lot like Physics, so I’ll put the OS in Physics. The pen being mightier than the sword just sings to me about changing minds and spreading ideas so that works perfectly for an RS of Psychology. With that alignment, the OS can take up the solution element and achieve the goal by essentially switching to the Psychology perspective. Hopefully that checks out theory wise.

From there, to make this as short as possible, I’ll skip down to the Problem quad. The reason people in the OS are driven to take action is because they want Results. This problem will be solved when they embrace a process.

I want to tell people who prefer to take action that if they stop for a second and try another path, they might find success. A growth of Stop puts the MC into Universe and a resolve of Change gives the MC a problem of Result.

Because I don’t want to say that this path will automatically solve all your problems, that it could in fact leave you with several, Ill let the characters judge their success as Bad. I don’t care about how fast you take action or take up your pen. I care more about how many options you look at, so we’ll lock that in.

Let’s say that in order to succeed, they will need to stop thinking in black and white and see more shades of gray. If we set the MC to linear and let it align with a holistic IC, that should work nicely. And because I want this story to be about people making the right decision, we’ll let Decisions drive Actions. A bad decision will set the problem off, but a good one should bring a successful end to inequity.

Amd with that we’ve got our story engine settings of Change, Stop, Do-er, Linear, Decision, Optionlock, Success, Bad, Physics, Doing, Enlightenment, Result.

Couldn’t you say that about any POV? Isn’t setting it as Bad saying that it’s undesirable to take that POV?

A Judgment of Bad just says that taking this path will leave you with unresolved personal problems. It’s not itself a warning against taking this particular path. If you tell me how to Obtain a million dollars but not how to get rid of my bleak outlook on the Future, I’m still perfectly ok with taking that path.

What’s the point of Judgement if it’s not related to the message?

And for Change, Stop, Unproven, is stop being Unproven a legit premise? It sounds passive, like something a Steadfast character would go through (waiting for others to say “ok, you’ve proven your worth”). Proving one’s worth sounds like Start.

It is related to the message. The message is that the path will leave unresolved personal issues.

No. It’s a statement. You’d need to tell us what happens when you stop being unproven for a full premise.

EDIT: Now I’m thinking of saying “People should embrace teamwork unless you can only trust yourself.” MC would be for teamwork and Steadfast. I’m guessing that would be a Premise like “Keep working together and you can fight crime.” Would that be a Direction of Trust, Proven, or Help?

Shouldn’t the halves of the conflict statement go towards filling out the MC and IC throughlines instead of OS and RS?

To answer the now deleted question, yes, stop, unproven, and change work fine together. A steadfast character might hold out for others to stop seeming them Unproven, but a change character who gives up being motivated by unproven and embraces proven can find success.

Depends on what you want to say about your particular statement. I could have spoken to the Universe and Mind of my statement instead of, or even in addition to, the Psychology and Physics of it. And then I can (and did) use it for the Concern, Issue, and Problem for any or every throughline. Or I could have made a new statement for every storypoint. Maybe I could use “actions speak louder than words and yet the pen is mightier than the sword for the OS” and then use something like “it takes a village to raise a child unless mother knows best” for the RS.


I think the problem here was that most of the Unproven gists, while they work well for a source of conflict, aren’t phrased that well for a Premise (especially Change MC). You’d probably want something like, “stop worrying how green you are”, or “stop being motivated by your untested potential”, that kind of thing.

I think the best thing to do would be to pick the elements that seem more interesting to you, the ones that kind of sing. Which elements do you want to write about? Consider the dynamic pair and entire quad too.


In trying to be as short as possible in a previous post, I think I may have used wording that combined stop and change, which may have confused things as well.


I know this thread has kind of moved on, but regarding the “people need X” thing – which I’ve been calling juxtaposed truths, I think that was the term Jim used somewhere (?) – I had an example that might help.

I was trying to come up with the juxtaposed truths statement for a story I was working on, where I already knew the storyform. So I was able to zero in on the MC and IC Problems. But my initial stab at it didn’t really work:

In order to thrive, someone who has experienced a terrible loss is better off denying it, except when this denial causes you to abandon your loved ones in their time of grief.
(MC Problem Oppose, as in “denying someone’s death”; IC Drive Uncontrolled)

There’s just not very much meaning in that sentence; it’s green vs. red instead of green vs. round. Jim told me it was because I used part of the first truth in the second, i.e. I referenced “this denial” which reduces the scope of the second truth too much. They both have to be complete truths on their own.

After some brainstorming help from Jim I came up with a much better sentence that totally worked for the story and the climax I was planning:

Denying loss keeps you from being hurt UNLESS letting your emotions go unchecked is the only way to become powerful enough to save your friends.

I hope that helps.


This is so great. As I was reading it, I was thinking—no, he’s just repeating the same truth—and then you gave the solution!

I’m going to add this to the post because I think it’s super helpful for everyone to understand.


But I checked the video posted earlier and it said it was a broad way of getting MC and IC POVs rather than individual story points.
I’m not sure I can handle coming up with new statements that way for each story point. I’m just looking for a way to generally get started so I don’t end up doing nothing and wondering if there’s something wrong with me.

What interests me is the storytelling stuff, not sources of conflict, so how can I trust my feelings if they are probably wrong? I’ve had a storyform that I swore was one way (something traditionally and familiarly Obtaining, Future, Becoming, Subconscious), but was told it was something totally different and I still flipflop on it because feelings keep saying that something’s off, and it doesn’t help that I can probably twist my premise to fit either. Can’t you take an action-heavy throughline (which sounds like Physics, but that’s just storytelling) and make it so the source of conflict is anything-- say, Fixed Attitudes driving people to combat?

If there was/is a how-to on coming up with the correct premise, I wonder if you could start with a pair of those dueling truths. “People need X” sounds like Growth+Problem and “in order to Y” sounds like the Story Goal part. Is that correct?


Great thread so far! I just wanted to jump in on this because it used to be something that I worried a lot about.

There isn’t a correct premise. Every storyform / premise is correct. The issue is what you want to say. So, if a premise sounds like something you agree with 100% and want to write about, then that is the correct premise.

You have to drive the cart, not Dramatica or anyone else. Write what you want to say and let Dramatica help. Don’t let Dramatica tell you what to say.

At least, that’s the motivational speech I keep giving myself. :smile:


I don’t know what the video says(Haven’t watched it in a while and can’t look at it right now), and I don’t want to speak for Jim, but you can use it for any point, and if you don’t want to come up with multiple statements, you certainly don’t have to.

The reason these statements of conflict work is this. The mind isn’t looking at the MC or IC in isolation. And it’s not looking at any element on the table, like Pursuit, in isolation. Instead, it looks at the relationships between perspectives and elements. When the two are aligned, there is no conflict. But when the two are misaligned, there is conflict.

So when you have an MC problem of Physics, you don’t really have an MC problem with the process of Physics. What you really have is an MC inequity, or imbalance, between Physics and Psychology. The reason it looks or is treated like a problem of physics is because the mind is trying to bring the two into alignment and, in the process, decides there is nothing wrong with the alignment of Psychology. If there’s nothing wrong with Psych, then it only needs to deal with Phys in order to get rid of the inequity and find proper alignment. So that’s what it does. And it will find that it is able to move Physics into alignment (Steadfast), or it will find its justifications for moving Physics to be lacking and will instead work toward moving Psychology into alignment (Change).

But it’s not just doing this at the Domain level. It does this at all levels. So really, every time you make a choice about where your conflict is coming from you are making a statement of conflict (people need to Physics unless they need to Psychology). But since there are no limitations on storytelling, you can use one for domain and another for concern and another for Problem. Or one for MC and IC and another for the Os and another for the RS. However you want to do it.

Yes, as long as you show the physics to be The conflict that comes from Mind.