How to Weave Throughlines Together to Create a Single Plot

For some reason, this reminded me of one of the more interesting relationships I’ve seen.

The relationship was that of two lovers destined to meet, but unaware of each other. The way it was executed within the story was rather interesting. They did not meet until the end of the story. But, the tension between whether they would or would not, especially with the characters completely unaware, gave a real interesting feel. It was very much a romance story.

I know people are going to ask where I saw this. Unfortunately, I have no clue. I just remember it; it was that powerful. (And, yes Armando has something similar in an example in his book, but that’s not what I’m refering to here.)


Sleepless in Seattle?

I don’t know. I may have seen that, but I don’t remember. Anyway, whatever it was, I think gives the best way to feel out what the RS actually is.


I think Jim mentioned doing a group Subtext analysis of that movie at some point for that reason.

Alas, it’s been many years since I saw it and I don’t remember it being one my favorites.

How about we say:

The actions of the MC and IC reflect the state of the RS. The RS doesn’t reflect the state of the MC or IC.

I don’t think this is exactly accurate.

I still think the clearest way understand what’s going on here is to use the initial Dramatica terminology/delineations. This terminology is in many cases borrowed from more conventional understandings and redefined by Dramatica for more specific meanings. Many of us may be a little sloppy in how we use the terms in discussions on the board, which could cause confusion.

So just for clarity, here is how I understand the Dramatica model and terminology as it relates to what I think you’re asking (sorry for the length and if any of this seems obvious or self-evident):

Stories have players. These are what are conventionally known as “characters.” From a storytelling perspective, these are the individuals who have biographies, likes and dislikes, talents, a certain physical appearance, etc. These characteristics are separate from structure.

From a dramatic structural perspective, these players play different roles (take on different perspectives).

This is where we get the four throughlines.

  • The OS throughline (the “they” perspective) is where you find all of the character Elements in that window of Dramatica. Different characters will play out (explore) these Elements over the course of a story. Archetypal characters take certain conventional assemblies; complex characters mix and match. The most important of these is the player representing Pursue – who pursues the story goal. By Dramatica convention, this player is called the Protagonist.

  • Then you have the Main Character (I perspective). By convention, most stories combine the MC and OS Protagonist into one player (e.g. Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars movie). However, there are many stories that don’t do this – the Protagonist and the MC are represented by different players (e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird.) The important thing is that in Dramatica, the Protagonist and the MC play completely separate dramatic functions, even if they are portrayed in the same player.

  • The Influence Character (the “you” perspective) who challenges the MC can be represented by any number of players. Often it’s the love interest. Sometimes its the OS Antagonist. Sometimes it’s the guardian. Sometimes its the OS Protagonist. It really varies.

  • The Relationship Story is, again, it’s own thing. By storytelling convention, the players in the RS are almost always the same players who take on the MC and IC role. But, just as the Protagonist and the MC are only the same in the sense that storytelling convention usually puts them in the same player, it technically makes no sense to say “the actions of the MC and IC reflect the state of the RS” because the MC and IC perspectives are completely different things from the RS.

More accurate I think is to say: the players in the RS express and/or reflect (expose?) the state and progress of the RS. Most commonly, these are the same players who represent the MC and IC perspectives in those respective throughlines.

The idea that these are all completely separate is where you get Hunter’s experiment in creating four throughlines with completely different players. Theoretically, this is structurally perfectly fine, though it’s very unconventional and might be hard to pull off, and audiences might be confused by it (but it could also be super-cool…)


I, always, wondered if it were two storyforms with the child being the ic for the two mc. But now, I wonder if was just him being guardian and/or sidekick for both of them, at times.

I think that I was hasty.

But, I know what I would like to do. I would like to come up with a master list of all the ways that an author might illustrate the status of the RS. There has to be a limited amount of ways that it might be accomplished.

For example, I think that you could do it with the following:

  • chapter titles

  • illustrations or drawings (which is really just emphasizing another of these)

  • dialogue (but this seems as though it could be unreliable)

  • a thought (but this seems as though it could be unreliable)

  • a weenie (which is unimportant and more about the RS)

  • an interaction

  • an action

  • a description

  • authorial POV or commentary or narrative commentary

  • a repeated situation with a different outcome than the previous times

  • a parallel created by the author

  • a contrast created by the author

Obviously, there’s a limited number of ways to communicate a change to the RS. But I wonder…

On a side note, I had a moment of doubt (about how separate the MC and RS could be) where I wondered if a woman that had changed from a mouse to a lion in the MC would be at odds with a woman that went from independent and strong to an abusive relationship.

Then I realized that this happens all the time. And it probably makes for more interesting reading. People are complicated.

So there is no such thing as two arcs that can’t work together.

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That’s funny @Prish I don’t even remember that character. Guess I need to see it again at some point.

As long as the underlying storyform is consistent!

Except to say that both of those describe a Main Character Throughline :grin:

Splitting hairs aside though, yes, you’re on the right track—We is not I.

A woman that changes from a mouse to a lion is a Main Character Throughline.

A relationship that changes from supportive to abusive is a Relationship Story Throughline.

The benefit of keeping these separate is that you avoid slipping into the “I” perspective when you start writing—as in “I’m independent and strong and now I’m in an abusive relationship.” As opposed to “we used to be so supportive, now we’re abusive.”

You start to see avenues of your story that previously were left untouched when you approach things this way.


The purpose of the Relationship Story Throughline is to communicate what the single inequity looks like from a WE perspective.

The storyform is a model of a single human mind trying to resolve a single inequity.

By definition, you cannot describe an inequity directly—it can only be described indirectly, from several different points-of-view.

The WE perspective is one of those—and most often, the one most forgotten (go see the latest How To Train Your Dragon movie).

I think this definition is deceiving—it should be the passionate part of the argument, not the passionate argument, as if it is somehow separate from the logical argument. The storyform is one argument—as seen from different perspectives.


Well that’s disappointing to hear about HTTYD

The movie captured something. I’m thinking he was the father’s guardian and the new friend’s sidekick, just off the top of my head, if not two story forms. His character reminded me of the end of The Music Man, where the parents saw their kids as a glorious band through the eyes of love. Totally different plotting, but it elicited that emotion from me, I remember.

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