How to use Dramatica to assess the development of the Corona Crisis

While watching the news tonight my mind was going back and forth. I was wondering how Dramatica can be used to asses the current situation. The news are all about the Corona Crisis and everyones future.

So, I read the article from Jim again.

After trial and error and I couldn’t find a proper question of my story mind at work.

I tried to create a story form with some of my initial ideas…

  • How does the situation look like tomorrow?
  • How can we improve the situation?
  • How do we experience the rapid change of the situation and what happens with us?
  • How could we deal with the effects of the situation?

Or as in the article…

  • How can we become masters of our own destinies?

I struggled to find the right story form. But just before I wanted to give up I saw a comic on

So, here is my first try on how to use Dramatica to assess the Corona Crisis.

Story Mind

What is the advice for a small business owner who might be affected by the corona crisis?

Goal of Progress

Small-Business-Owner wants to improve their situation they are currently in because of the Corcoran crisis.

Consequences of Preconscious

If they cannot solve their problem Small-Business-Owner might be respond to problems inappropriately (?)

Problem of Theory

Small-Business-Owner lacking a plausible theory about the further develeopment of the corana crisis and the future of their business

Objective Story

  • (Signpost 1 of Present) Everyone is being threatened by the corona crisis and must cope with the measures which are put in place. The situation gets even worse when even whole countries are locked-down and people are put on house arrest.
  • (Signpost 2 of Past) Everyone, now sitting at home, is trying to find a plausible explanation for the situation. But it doesn’t help any further to change their destiny.
  • (Signpost 3 of Future) As there is no plausible explanation how the situation might be develop everyone is expecting the worst and focuses on coming to a conclusion.
  • (Signpost 4 of Progress) The situation starts finally slowly to improve as someone (the Main Character) starts having a clue and starting innovating.

Main Character Story

A Small-Business-Owner who just started his business as an advisor is supposing how it looks for him end of the month. But trying to find explanations doesn’t help him. He needs to innovate if he wants to help himself.

Influence Character Story (the guy in the comic)

Gary thinks (Psychology) … Your small business is in trouble unfortunately, but innovation could potentially help (Being, Knowledge)

  • (Signpost 1 of Conceptualizing) Gary puts safety and family first an over everything else
  • (Signpost 2 of Being) Gary recommends being grateful for you and people you love are healthy
  • (Signpost 3 of Conceiving) Gary is patient and beliefs you just going to have two wait this out
  • (Signpost 4 of Becoming) Gary lets you start something finally new, be it a mobile infrastructure for your business or organising online events instead of live events

Relationship Story

A Small-Business-Owner and Gary the Artist being concerned about their future and arguing about what might be expected four weeks down the road.

Argument (Solution for the Problem of the Storymnind)

Give up formulating an explanation of something and try being innovative and you can improve your situation

I am living in Switzerland and it looks like we reaching the peak of the corona crisis soon. Tomorrow we expect new measures - house arrest.

All the best for you. Let’s trust our creative instinct.

storyform.pdf (50.7 KB)


I like this part of the model:

The InstantScene at the bottom is eerily accurate…


Strategy makes a lot of sense. Just was so super focused on the current Situation. But asking for the best advice reaction or even better protection fits pretty well.

Btw Jim are Instant Scenes a new feature which are going to be released next?

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Yes, I just have to wrangle the Holistic side of things before I roll it out (some people have different ideas about PRCO :))


This is very interesting!

FWIW, I would start with the Drivers because I think it is crucial to know when a story begins.

That would have forced me into this:

Driver 1: The first cases of COVID-19 are reported in Wuhan.
Signpost 1: The Future – it is clear that the authoritarian regime has been covering up their cases and believes they have lost containment. China is everyone’s future, or can we avert that future?
MC Signpost 1: Doing – Unaware that this is coming, shop owners are doing what they normally do.


Oh man, that’s AMAZING

And look how well that lines up with our Overall Story:

Stay home. Don’t give in to the people saying it’s okay to hang out… and RUN, FOREST, RUN!!!


Great thread @Gernot. I love your take on the business owner and Gary as the IC. I came up with a similar storyform.

Goal of Learning makes a lot of sense @jhull and Inaction sounds like a pretty description of the problem. And that instant scene is eerie!

When I first saw this thread I immediately (before reading @Gernot’s post) that it would be a Concern of Progress (we have to manage the Progress of this virus – if it progresses too fast, we’ll overwhelm the hospitals, which is why we have to “flatten the curve” etc.)

Consequences of Preconscious: if we can’t figure this out, everyone is going to lose their sh*t and society will collapse.

Issue of Threat or Security seem pretty good too. If it’s Security, the question is how much should we lock down and for how long?

Focus/Direction: Effect -> Cause – The effects of this are a disaster; but who’s causing this? Who is to blame?
Problem: Result – The ramifications of this virus are bad; any action you take to respond or not respond has long-ranging, bad consequences.
Solution: Process – This is going to be a long process, but we’re going to have to find a way to get through it (and trust the scientific process). Part of that is figuring out how to keep society running (process) while things work themselves out. (Also keep your business running).

Taking off from the comic, as Gernot said, the MC is the business owner and Gary is the IC. For the MC side, the business owner as Physics/Doing – how do I keep my business running? The IC has a Drive of Accurate: “Perspective first–be grateful if you and the people you love are healthy” (you have to find a way to tolerate and be patient in this situation).

The Crucial Element requires the MC to move from Result to focusing on the Process (getting through this).

@MWollaeger – I agree on the first Driver. My OS has Past as the first signpost – there’s an attempt to hide/ignore what happened. OS 2 is Future – people failing to prepare for what they should know is coming. Etc.

I have: Conceiving: “Safety and family” (having the right idea about this)
Becoming: “Your business is going to be affected”

My last two are out of order though.

It’s an interesting thought exercise.

We’re all home too – still allowed to go out, but things are shutting down.

Hope everyone is staying safe out there.


You bet your buppies.


I just finished reading a fantastic article which is definitely slanted toward a Goal of Learning, with issues of Strategy vs. Analysis:

Warning: the first half of it is depressing, the second half is much better. Don’t stop reading it halfway through!

Some of the graphs in that article are basically discussing the quad under Strategy! (one colour for Inaction, other colours for different Reactions, etc.) It’s also interesting how well the heavily debated topic of school closures fits into a Concern of Learning.


Just want to add that I’m looking forward to this. I started doing this manually for one of my stories recently and found it extremely helpful. I know some people find the scene-level stuff to be overkill (and I have at times) but lately it’s been helping things click a lot more.


This is a very powerful for short stories as well. If you have an idea it immediately clicks when you see the gist kind which character/situation you need. I am using this a lot as well for developing character with archetypes.


Is this feature already live - or did I miss something? When I log into Subtext for me nothing has changed.

Totally live! I’ll help you out in the DMs here…

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OMG, great idea. I look forward to reading through this thread!

I used to do it manually too…but I’ve really benefited from the InstaScene on Subtext. Time saver beyond compare!


It’s a good article, @mlucas! Thank you for sharing.

It was a long article, focussed on one primary aspect: lockdown to control the virus. It would’ve been great if the author included the financial implications of the lockdown because that’s a massive consideration. Also, at the end of the article, he pretty much talks about waiting for the vaccine. Well, I’m not sure our economies can hack that length of time – which is why treatments are important.

So! Going back to the Dramatica model @Gernot posted… SP4 The situation starts finally slowly to improve as someone (the Main Character) starts having a clue and starting innovating – looks like the MC has to have innovative treatment options :wink:

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Actually, he does say “Control the virus until we have a vaccine” at the end there.

Controlling the virus can be done through treatment or more quarantine, but he doesn’t say which.

According to Dramatica, it’s the innovative approach that will work better (quarantine isn’t innovative because that’s the tried and tested method already).

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Not apropos of anything else in this thread, I feel like we are Story Goal>obtaining (vaccine), Benchmark>Doing (what are people doing while we wait), Signpost>Learning—>Understanding (we learned the hard way that this won’t go away, leading to new understanding).


Let’s just hope that Signpost 1 wasn’t Obtaining, then! (automatic Failure) :slight_smile:

That said, I still feel like the Strategy quad is completely on target, and has been from the start. Inaction? Protection? Proaction & Reaction? How accurate can you get? (obviously there is no single right answer as it has to do with one’s perspective … but still…)