Instant Dramatica | 40 Scenes | 40 Scenes Vs. PSR Questions & Thoughts

Can anyone point me to more in-depth information about this feature? I’m a bit stumped as to how to get the best use out of it.

When I hit the “Create 40 Scenes Based on Instant Dramatica” button, I get a list of scenes populated with what I’ve already written - paragraphs which describe a sequence or perhaps a whole act. Dramatica sticks these paragraphs in the “What happens in this scene?” field. Also, DSE names each scene with the source title for each paragraph, e.g. “Overall Story Synopsis 1,” which doesn’t really seem to be much help.

The DSR feature seems to make more sense as a guided approach to developing actual scenes. But I’d like to use both to squeeze the most out of DSE, hence my post.


Sorry, minor grievance, but is this a tech question? If so, could you give this the tech label? I only ask because I don’t own the full program, so I don’t know if you’re talking about it or not. :blush:

My question pertains to the “40 Scenes” and “Plot Sequence Report” features in Dramatica Story Expert.

No, this is more of a how-to-use the PSR to write a story question…

I’m not sure what the misunderstanding is. I labeled my post a “question” and have asked how to make the best use of the 40 scenes (particularly) and PSR features. Can anyone point me to information that will help me understand how these to features can be best used? Thanks.

The PSR is something that can be used a multitude of different ways to create a story, or can be avoided entirely. @JBarker’s Far End of the Black creation is a great example of one way to use it. But the simple truth with everything regarding Dramatica (and writing, really) is that you have to try a bunch of things and figure out what is best for your writing.

And the Instant Dramatica 40 scenes, I think that’s best used for a very loose treatment – export it into a text document and expand on what you’ve written, or even break it up a little. I’d guide you to Armando’s book Dramatica for Screenwriters (Armando created Instant Dramatica and demystified the PSR) if you really want an in-depth look at these things.

Thanks, Jhay. Experienced writer / user here, and I’ve just read Armando’s book, but I’m new to Dramatica Story Editor version of the software and the 40 scenes / PSR features. The PSR makes logical sense to me. The 40 scenes, less so. It might be useful to hear how someone has used the 40 scenes feature. There doesn’t seem to be much written about it. Thanks again!

The Instant Dramatica report in the software is, unfortunately, something of which Chris has preached about in the past with regards to expectations of receiving an output and putting the onus on it rather than the journey of answering the questions and discovering your story. As such, it’s only as good as the information you put into it as well as how and that’s what makes it a somewhat frustrating endeavor: when you go through and provide answers, you’re merely in the process of discovering your storyform, but the idea of Instant Dramatica is taking the answers provided and coming up with forty scenes without consideration to ordering.

This is where Armando’s book comes in handy. Having used this process once, the best way I personally found tackling it was using the outputs of the report as simply “Data.” This includes the various throughlines, their problems, solutions, crucial elements, etc. - all the information that’s an output or a byproduct of creating your storyform. It’s all provided in that report but isn’t represented in a coherent narrative. It’s just… there, kind of lifeless, dead and meaningless, but it’s at this point where you really put some elbow-grease into it.

Using Armando’s chapter on Instant Dramatica, start plugging in your “Data” using his method of building the synopsis for each throughline. This is going to require you to translate/put your storypoints into context within the story you want to tell. This is the part that’s difficult when using the report because you’re essentially working with the underlying form, or skeleton within the software. This process will flesh those concepts out and put meat on the storyform’s bones, so to speak, so that it’s presented as a cause/effect overall synopsis where all these points/elements are blended/weaved in such a way that it’s more truly representative of the story you’re trying to write because it’s forcing you to put it into a narrative outline.

I found this to be the fun part, but it also requires a lot of heavy lifting because it forces you to take those outputs from the report and give them meaning by putting them into the context of your story and what you’re personally trying to accomplish. I believe you can use Armando’s example(s) as something of a template, or at least that’s what I recall doing. By the end, you’ll have all the outputs from the report represented in such a way that you should be able to see where the scenes are coming from.

I was going to post something a while ago about how I’ve been using the PSR and it’s worked like magic for me. I made a draft but then forgot about it, but I think I saved it to a text file somewhere. Let me look.

Oh, @jcweatherby I edited the post title to “PSR” instead of “DSR” for you, I hope that’s right. (I’ve been posting so much over the last months that Discuss automatically granted me post-title editing rights!)

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. You’ve reflected back some of my thoughts about the 40
Scenes, so I know I’m not alone! I’ll dig more into the book to see what I can squeeze out of it.

The PSR makes more sense to me because it offers more contextual clues. But It will be interesting to see what happens with the 40 scenes once I get through answering “All Topics” / Throughlines with this latest story form I’m playing with. I’m sure there’s some interesting synergy between the two reports.

One question about your tackling of the 40 scenes; did you leave the answers in the “What happens in this scene” field or delete those to write your scene description? That’s probably self evident, but I’m curious what you did.

Thanks again!

Thanks for catching that typo. I’ve looked at this thread several times and completely missed it!

I didn’t use that function in the software as I tend to like writing things out long-hand first, then put it in a spreadsheet once I have a general idea. Every script is a bit different, but generally speaking, that’s how I work as the spreadsheet allows me to color code and visually keep track of acts, throughlines, signposts, etc.

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I found my draft post and made a separate post out of it because it was pretty long and had titles and everything, so I didn’t want to hijack your thread with it. :slight_smile:

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