Illustrating Worry in a scene - help

My protagonist is exploring Worry while Becoming in a psychology domain with the concern of conceptualising. OS problem is Chaos

So, Worry is the element of conflict and I get a boring feeling for this scene. Can Worry really cause all that much conflict?

This element has me stuck seeing my Protagonist so worried he’s seems like a worry-wart causing problems over what he’s worried about rather than being a go-getter. Looking at a positive gist of worry is “not a care in the world,”- which isn’t appropriate for this protagonist.

Maybe the Worry point of conflict is that he is worried about the wrong things?

Maybe I’m taking this conflict to literal…help!

I should also clarify I’m writing a thriller so most of the characters have something to worry about at one time or another :slight_smile:


Do you have illustrations for the rest of the PSR quad? Like how does Worry lead to Confidence?

Also, since it sounds like this is OS, does it have to be the Protagonist who Worries?

Is there some way that worry causes him to take an action or refrain from action in a way that drives the plot forward and/or causes more problems?

For example, a gist of worry is “Having General Misgivings about a Someone”. So just to make up something random: the Protagonist is supposed to meet his secret contact under the bridge, but something about the meeting feels fishy, so he skips out on the meeting. This causes the contact (a double agent) to realize she’s been made. She calls her supervisor, who decides that Mr. Protagonist is no longer of any Value to them, and tells Ms. Double Agent to kill him. Etc.


Thanks for that gist, @Lakis! I hadn’t thought about that rendering of the element. Half of my problem is not knowing what the elements can mean!

In any case…

The quad is value, worry to confidence, and worth.

For this OS SP2, it is becoming. So, the antagonist is manoeuvring the protagonist John into becoming a scapegoat (John will eventually figure out how to redirect his efforts later in the Act with the help of the IC).

Value - John is paraded in front of national TV, his reputation gets ruined - (he’s totally devalued) - which later affects his relationship with his family…(Nobody knows that he’s enduring such a terrible situation because he’s being blackmailed).

Worried - right now, John is running around trying to repair his relationships and set the record straight with his loved ones (boring for a protagonist to be doing in a thriller). Everyone definitely has misgivings about him…but especially the general public.

Confidence - His ex-wife (because of VALUE), threatens to sue for sole custody of their son, and (also on national TV) - she’s hitting him where it really hurts (he’s close to his son). This ties back to other parts of the story…Police charge him with a crime.

Worth - not filled this in yet, but he’s gotta bounce back into action after getting his life paraded across national TV and his reputation in ruins.

So, generally, in this whole section, my Protagonist is shot to pieces (so to speak). Poor guy. In reality, he is pursuing conditions set forth by the antagonists who are blackmailing him, but he’s getting a pounding!


Hmm… without knowing much, it almost sounds to me like some of the stuff with his wife and son could be MC throughline stuff (John is also the MC, right?).

But anyway, what if

  1. John has something the blackmailers want (Value) and his reputation is ruined (also Value).

  2. He wants to repair his relationships but is Worried that the FBI are about to arrest him, which causes him to act even more suspiciously (tense thriller stuff). And/or he knows he can clear his name, but he’s Worried about what the blackmailers will do to his family if he tries (also tense thriller stuff). His wife uses this suspicious behavior to argue against his competency as a father (Confidence).

  3. He bounces back somehow (something to do with Worth).

Sounds like a cool story!


Yes, I agree about the MC stuff creeping in there.

This story is a challenge because his MC stuff is closely linked with his OS Protag role.

So, yeah, twisty psychology stuff.

I really like your render of those elements! It will spark some movement forward for me - thank you!

BTW, I was reading some of your older posts regarding your struggles with Dramatica. I had the same struggles with Dramatica for the longest time. These days, I realise that my inner sense of story can get me to the story faster. When I’m stuck, I look to Dramatica to spark an idea or fill in a gap. Is that what you’ve found?

Either way, sounds like you are onnit.


Yes! Well, it’s an evolving process. I’m still working on finding a middle-ground. I am now to the point though where I try to err on the side of trusting my story intuition and focus on the muse (thanks @mlucas and @MWollaeger for this advice).


You are writing a thriller. Sitting next to the husband, over the years, has taught me that thriller lovers like fast pace. Slow paced parts [worry sounds thoughtful and slow] he finds boring, and it kills a scene for him. Just saying…


If his reputation gets ruined, then the thriller part gets ruined. The disaster has already happened. Spending the movie outrunning a possible national TV reputation ruin seems thriller. Reclaiming life after being totally devalued by national TV reputation ruin might be a brilliant work of art (sounds like it to me), but viewers/readers stick around for something other than fast paced thriller. Now, if he were accused of murdering the person who did the national TV ruin, then the thriller dash would work. It would be a thriller if he were plotting chess moves against the antagonist moves, though.

The husband does not like emotional wallowers in thrillers, just movers with good pointed comments and comebacks. Maybe, you could experiments and type in a comment by the Main Character Protagonist for each of the story forming and story telling points in the Dramatica software program, a comment that you would like him to say. This is all about what is fun for you to write, (my take on it).


What writers does your husband read? If he likes action-packed, Simon Kernick is great. Relentless was the first I read of his and got hooked. Total action thriller.

Yeah, the slow parts bore me to tears while I write them too, @Prish. Makes it a challenge to write these types of elements in a way that feels frantic.

For the worry part, I could have him rush to salvage what he can of his life and thereby make a bigger mess for himself somehow.

Having said that, it’s a dystopian thriller so dark moments are required.

Oh, to find the balance!


I was thinking films. But he loves the zingers of Patrick Jane of the Mentalist and Elementary’s Sherlock of season’s 1-3. For analytical and/or deserved caustic zingers the husband would sit through anything, gladly.
That’s why it might be fun to go through all the spaces, variations through elements rectangles in the software program and write/type a zinger comment the character might make under that spot’s story indication for the
character, if that makes sense.

I do appreciate your reaching out to the participants, here, because you have given me a way to collaborate with the husband in my own work, finally. “OK, honey, what zinger would be fun, here. These are the gists of this spot of the story, so does anything come to mind?” Now, I will need to use the gists. Kicking and screaming on my part, but tech does move onto a better place usually, I have to admit.


For each item in the PSR, I like to imagine a character saying something like “here we are Psychologying/Becoming/Conceptualizing and all you can do is Worry! This is chaos!” It sort of sets the feel of Worry-or whatever item-as being problematic and causing conflict.

Dont think of what the character is worried about as the problem, just that the character IS worrying. Something like the following maybe:
Both characters are in line at the airport/border/some place with high security.
Character 1:what if get caught?
Character 2: would you quit worrying?
C1: I can’t help it. People are becoming dead all around us. If we get caught it’ll be the end of the world!
C2: I get that. It doesnt matter what you’re worried about that’s causing an issue. If the guards see that you are worried, they’ll pull us out of line and we’ll be caught. Your WORRYING is the problem, not the subject of your worry.

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The husband is going on and on what a good movie Anatomy of a Murder is and how it keeps him riveted to the end. He just saw it again, and he’s amazed that it is so slow moving but he never feels bored or impatient to the very last second, all the times he’s seen it. Maybe, there are some clues for you in the writing of that film script which came from a novel written by a defense attorney of a real life court case.

Thanks for that tip, @Prish. I’ll have to check it out!

I’ll have to try that - thank you, @Greg. Great way of imagining a scene!

Here’s a clip from the latest Writing with Subtext talking about encoding the story-points, so appropo for me right now:

I can’t help but feel that this Worry storypoint is making my Protag seem weak. I mean, he’s just confessed something on national TV because the antagonist forced him to do it (they have their own hidden agenda). He’s deValued himself plenty. The Worry action is making him look weak again.

So, I’m kinda thinking…when a scene feels, intuitively, like it’s not working, maybe it’s time to try one of the OS characters to illustrate an OS storypoint.

I just need to clarify first… can any one of the characters in the OS perspective help illustrate an OS storypoint (in this case Worry) as long as it involves the Protag?

John has just confessed live on national TV (Setup: deValue), and he knows this is going to create problems but he’s prepared (Revelation: Confidence) to deal with the fallout because he had to do it for reasons that no one yet understands.

Conflict: Worry Example:
Reason: Who the hell are you, John? I can’t be associated with you anymore.
John: I had to do what I had to do (secretly John is worried that if Reason leaves he’ll forever be a criminal). I didn’t do it.
Reason: But you just confessed to it live on TV! [Reason pulls out a cigarette and starts puffing away]
John: You know me better than that. TV is just a stage.
Reason: So, you were lying?
John: I can’t explain why I said what I said - you just have to trust me.
Reason: John, the whole country knows you’ve committed a crime. It’ll ruin the firm. My family will disown me if they know we’re still working together. Sorry, John, you’re on your own. [He tosses the cigarette to the ground and walks away].

Aftermath: Worth: TBD

At least John seems more like a protagonist here than in my earlier rendering. But, does it work as an illustration of the OS Worry storypoint?

I think any OS character can illustrate an OS storypoint, whether or not in involves the protagonist. The way I distinguish it is to ask myself, how does [storypoint] cause a problem for everyone? (I guess not every single OS storypoint has to cause specific problems for every single OS player, but more how does this cause “group” problems")

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Maybe, you have more than one element involved. I remember myself in the 1970’s, getting caught up with worrying so much I found myself sitting, facing a wall, staring at the wall worrying. I caught myself at it and realized, hey this isn’t going to change anything … literally. So I just jumped into stuff to keep moving, but I digress since that is off topic with a different path and element.

Back on topic, now when I look back on that worrying phase, I’d call it over thinking.

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Thanks, @Prish :slight_smile:

Yeah, I think I’m the one stuck on worry, not my character, LOL!

Tomorrow, I’m just going to plough through, throw caution to the wind, and see what happens!


Worry is an internal thing. It’s not like you can Worry something to death. It’s the external manifestations of trying to deal with worry is where you are going to design your scene.

So for example:

there is NOTHING you can do with that, it’s secret (again internal) and you literally can’t do anything more than have a single internal something akin to Shit. If he leaves, I’ll never get out of this mess.

So your worry needs to be in it’s effect. What does John DO because he’s worried? What preparatory work is he doing to stave off the disaster scenario when it hits.

Think about how much the scene might change if REASON is after John’s wife. And John says if anything happens, look after Beth (or whatever her name is)

Or plants in REASON’S head where he could find the answers.

You should take Beth to the cabin, she hasn’t been in two years.

He’s giving code to his friend…

But you gotta look for what he DOES because of the worry.



Thank you, @jassnip :slight_smile:

I went back to the story yesterday, went with the flow of the story and ignored the storyform. I discovered something really interesting when I went back and looked at the points.

I discovered that the IC impacted the Antagonist who was the one who got worried enough to change direction - which will end up having ramifications at the end of that Act. It’s a hidden story point so we will only see the effects. But, the answer for Worry came off of the IC Threat.

So, the lesson I learned here is if a storypoint doesn’t seem to flow, look at the IC role and see if the IC is doing anything which is influencing an OS story point within the same Act.

Also, if a scene isn’t working, try a different player role. The OS storypoints can apply to any of the OS characters.