Ideas for community-contributed gist thread

Sometimes when using Dramatica to aid writing I think of new gists. Just wondering if there would be a way we could all contribute on Discuss, like community gists or whatever. e.g. start a long-running thread and people could just add to it with new gist ideas, and others could comment if they like them or think they don’t fit.

  1. Does this sound like a good idea?
  2. Do we need to do anything to ensure the gists could be added into a new version of the software if desired? (like mention at the top of the thread that by contributing you are giving permission for that?)
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I actually started adding my own gists a couple months back. I don’t have anything particularly useful to add, other than it’s hugely helped me in crafting new stories (I ‘spin-the-storyform’ a new concept every week to keep my creativity flowing), so I think it’s a very good idea to add new gists (Jim’s are excellent companions, also).

My original plan was to create gists centred around the movies analysed on Narrative First and the Users Group for a Dramatica-based side-experiment/project I was doing, with the end goal to be sharing them with the community somehow. I only have In the Heat of the Night and Invasion of the Body Snatchers so far, but I think it’s something I’d like to continue sometime in the future (when I have time) because those gists have been surprisingly helpful for my own stories.

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I like the idea. ill confess that I’m still bumming off the demo for now with hopes of getting an actual copy pretty soon. Do the gists still only come on the Mac version? Or how does that work?
I prefer the idea of coming up with my own gists but obviously feel like having a dramatica expert approved list would help. Especially when I’m just not sure of how to encode a manipulative relationship or whatever.

I would highly recommend to get the non-demo version to be able to use it properly for your own writing. It’s hard enough to come up with a storyform for an already finished work (like a movie) so when trying to storyform your own incomplete work, you NEED to be able to save multiple copies. When I came up with my storyform I had like 20 different copies saved!

Unfortunately, gists only come with the Mac version.

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Agreed. I’ve been saving all my work in Word and I have about a hundred files. But I would love to get the real deal and quit bumming. Im planning on waiting until I’ve recovered from the Christmas spending to get it, though.

More on topic though, I’d like a thread that starts out with a random story form that everyone works on together, like in the YouTube videos but in here (I’m sure I’ve seen something like that on here a couple times) or where everyone posts their gists for the full form or something. Something that I can get practice by replying to, or where I can see how other people use a story form. I don’t know, something that will give me practical experience and let me see others perspectives on how to use dramatica.

Since most of the gists seem to follow the templates “VERBing (preposition) NOUN” (like “Transporting the Martians”, “Warring against the Martians”) or “VERBing NOUN preposition NOUN” (like “Causing Anxiety amongst Guests”) or “VERBing ADJECTIVE preposition NOUN” (like Being Concerned about Someone), all you would need to do, really, is to replace the verbs(+prepositions), adjectives and nouns. Verbs and adjectives would be determined by the story point, while the nouns would be determined by subject matter / genre.
So, all you would really need to do is keep a list of verbs & adjectives associated with each class and type (and maybe variation and element), and then a list of nouns associated with subject matter or genre. I have something like that since I don’t have a Mac, and use it generate my own gists.


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This is exactly the part I think a gist thread can help with; since everybody thinks differently or is exploring different subject matter in their stories, the community might come up with some really neat and diverse gists. Also, some things you think of might be problematic (either not quite right for the element or something you’d have to be careful with), and the community could help there too.

e.g. I’d known that destroying was a great gist for Becoming / Changing One's Nature but today I was thinking that ruining and its strongest synonyms like desecrating and defiling are pretty awesome ones too. (Contrast those with weaker words like tarnishing which isn’t strong enough to fit Becoming, and spoiling or marring which might only fit sometimes.)

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@bobRaskoph, thanks. I think I saw the beginning of that thread earlier, but i’d forgotten about it. I’ll definitely go back and check it out.

Definitely good input on the construction of gists, but part of the fun (and part of the usefulness) is what @mlucas pointed out. I can read other peoples ideas all day long and definitely learn from them. But sometimes you learn best by being hands on and having someone there to tell you you’re doing it right or completely screwing it up, someone that can guide you in the right direction and influence you with their guidance. Like some sort of…guidance character…or something. For me, it wouldn’t be so much about having the extra gists (although I think that’d be fun, too) but about having someone to tell me that my gists belong more in Fixed Attitude than Manipulation or Contemplations instead of Memories and being able to see what other people list for gists in areas that i still am having trouble with.

I don’t know if desecrating and defiling work for Becoming/Changing One's Nature to be honest. Both seem to be mostly about “violating the sanctity of something” which is not only rather specific to spiritual/religious stuff, but is also too easily reversible in general? There are of course things that can’t be reversed once defiled… But, I personally wouldn’t use them.

My point about the construction of gists was less about everyone making up their own lists and more about what to focus on: the verbs and adjectives. It’s easy to get lost in the possibility space of nouns, but they’re not all that important in the scheme of things. Though I would make a difference between Groups, People, Creatures, Vehicles, Occupations, etc.

What do you guys think of these rather standard verbs for Becoming/Changing One's Nature?

  • Being Reduced to X
  • Becoming X
  • Changing X
  • Changing into X
  • Converging with X
  • Converting to X
  • Destroying X
  • Embodying X
  • Emerging as X
  • Evolving/Devolving into X
  • Growing Apart from X
  • Growing Up with/without X
  • Incarnating (as) X
  • Molding into X
  • Personifying X
  • Reforming into X
  • Revamping into X
  • Ruining X
  • Transforming X
  • Transforming into X
  • Turning into X

Definition of Becoming as a Refresher:[quote]Becoming means achieving an identity with something. This is different from “being” which merely requires posing as something. To become, one must do more than just pretend to be by mimicking all the traits of what one wants to become. Rather, one must also lose all those parts of oneself that are inconsistent with what one wants to become. “Giving up” a part of oneself is always the hardest part of becoming and the reason so many characters spend a lot of time “being” without ever becoming.[/quote]

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All those seem great! Nice list. Funny, this is the kind of discussion I was thinking to have in the real thread, but this is a good proof of concept. :slight_smile:

I agree desecration and defilement are not good to use if they’re easily reversed, but that’s true of any Becoming – it needs to be a source of conflict so if you can easily reverse it’s not.

GIRL: “Mom, I’ve become a girl guide!”
MOM: “What? I hate girl guides! You are quitting tomorrow!”
GIRL: “Okay sure.”


GIRL: “No way! Becoming a girl guide was always my dream!”

I was thinking more along the lines of the Ritual of Desecration in Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which defiled the Land. Or, someone who was abused feeling their body (and maybe soul) has been defiled. They fit the bold part of the definition because to be defiled or desecrated means losing innocence, purity, beauty, etc.

I’m not sure what most gists look like, or how they’re put together, so i’m probably ruining the conversation, but I want to fill the X in with something from some other part of the chart to see what happens. For instance, an easy one might be Ruining The Future. That sounds like some kind of sabotage. A harder one might be Growing Up without A Past. What kind of story would that be? Or Destroying a Memory, or Being Reduced to Doing, or Transforming Understanding.

Being Reduced to a theory
Becoming a cause
Changing a pursuit
Changing into a Fantasy
Converging with oppose
Converting to an Approach
Destroying Logic
Embodying Falsehood
Emerging as Evidence
Evolving/Devolving into an Attitude
Growing Apart from certainty
Growing Up with/without control
Incarnating (as) Feeling
Molding into Temptation
Personifying Chaos
Reforming into Non acceptance
Revamping into Self Interest
Ruining a strategy
Transforming faith
Transforming into a threat
Turning into a hindrance

Some are better than others, but they all get me thinking about what kind of stories they might be.

It’s good that you brought this up.
I think that most (if not all) of your examples could change the gists from being about Becoming to being about the Noun. Maybe I should have been more clear before, but the Xs should be replaced with more concrete nouns instead of abstract concepts, especially avoiding the concepts defined in Dramatica (exceptions being terms related to the story point).

  • “Ruining a Strategy” seems to be more about Strategy than Ruining, so I would more likely see it as a gist for Strategy.
  • “Ruining a Plan” would be more about the Plan (so Conceptualizing/Developing a Plan). We’re getting closer though.
  • “Ruining someone’s impeccable record” would work. We’re not only ruining something a little more concrete, but it’s also about someone’s behavior (i.e. someone’s psychology).
  • “Ruining the President” , “Ruining a Painting” , “Ruining the Cathedral” use arbitrary nouns, but the gists would still work as examples of Becoming/Changing One's Nature.

I wanted to share some examples from my collections but never got around to posting. Here they are, anyway.


  • Computer Hacking (Activity)
  • Believing in Traditional Gender Roles (Fixed Attitude)
  • Coping with Terminal Illness (Manipulation)
  • Being Allergic to the Sun (Situation)


  • Becoming America’s Most Hated Person (Becoming)
  • Coming Up with the Perfect Date (Conceiving)
  • Finding a Way to Make Something of a Dying Town (Conceptualizing)
  • Making Organic Condiments (Doing)
  • Fearing for the Future of a Country (The Future)
  • Learning to Talk (Learning)
  • Growing Racial Tensions (Progress)
  • Panicking in Stressful Situations (Impulsive Responses)
  • Wanting Others to Be Happy (Innermost Desires)
  • Cherishing Someone’s Ashes (Memories)
  • Finding Body Parts (Obtaining)
  • Disassociating Oneself from the Past (The Past)

(Some) THEMES:

  • Being Able to Create Life (Ability)
  • Being Meticulous with Analysis (Analysis)
  • Evaluating an Accident (Appraisal)
  • Having a Unique Approach to Leadership (Approach)
  • Having No Choice in One’s Decisions (Choice)
  • Terminating an AI (Closure)
  • Being Committed to a Failing Marriage (Commitment)
  • Acclimating to Medication (Conditioning)
  • Lacking the Right to Vote (Deficiency)

And so on, and so forth. I rarely go further than the Variations, only if there are concrete additions to be made. I prefer to leave those open for some wiggle room, mostly.

I think the true benefit of a community-contributed gist collection would be the clarification of where they belong. There are a few that could easily fit into two boxes, and a few I abandoned altogether because I just couldn’t work it out.

On a side note, @bobRaskoph’s verb list is a great idea and something I’m going to steal.

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Great stuff guys! Can we hold off from posting more gists here? First, this thread is in the “meta” area (I was asking about how to make a good gist thread etc.) – we can start the real thread and move some of this content there later.

Second, and most importantly, I’d like to wait for some feedback from the people who created & support Dramatica (e.g. @chuntley, @jhull) because I just want to make sure this kind of thread wouldn’t step on anyone’s toes. I think the gists that come with DSE are an important selling feature of that product, etc., and we might want to be careful not to have too much overlap (although I know that’s hard for Windows users who can’t see those gists).

Finally, @Gregolas – your posted gists definitely demonstrate some issues with your understanding of gists, maybe even with story-encoding, which is awesome because we can help you there and that will bring your Dramatica-fu to the next level. I think you should read Bob’s comments carefully, and then look at example gists in the thread Bob linked as well as some that are published in Narrative First articles (e.g. the playground series or nanowrimo 1 or nanowrimo 2). Can see how in every case the gist clearly delineates a single Dramatica concept, doesn’t mix Becoming with Pursuit or Theory or whatever? Then maybe start a new thread to discuss further.

just playing with the idea of what a gist could be. and making the point that Bob made without saying it, that what you use for the noun could change what the gist feels like it’s about. The verb “ruining”, by itself, could point to becoming/changing one’s nature, but ruining the time machine seems like it might point to a concern of the future or the past, or an activity. Seems to me one gist might be able to explore a couple different areas. Which is maybe still a problem with my understanding of gists and how they work. That’s fine. Would definitely love to talk about it more if not outside the scope of the thread.

@Gregolas, I replied in a new thread.

While a community built list might be helpful, what would be most helpful to me would be the discussion of how to classify and create appropriate gists. I try to create customized gists of sorts when planning my novels but I’m always a little afraid I’ll send myself off in the wrong direction from a misinterpretation of one of the story points. Practical guides/examples of how the process should be done would be very helpful to me.

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Same here. And I think the convo has already taken a slight turn toward that on the other thread Mike started.