Instant dramatica


Once again I have some question(s).
I like to analyze movies to find out a storyform but it is just a kind of exercise. A reverse engineering to get more knowledge. And to be honest with limited result.
On the other hand I was lucky to find some nice articles of Armando Saldana Mora.
Especially ‘Dramatica For Screenwriters’ and something on
His ‘easy to use’ advices are a ‘New World’ for a beginner like me.
In one of articles there is a shortcut kind of way to find out what is particular story (in terms of Dramatica - OS, MS, IS, RS) about.
I suppose you know it. Just to combine domain, concern and problem.
For example Activity, Obtaining, Uncontrolled.
This set converts into a general sentence like this:
“tale is about a character who is trying to change a negative losing control on something by obtaining something”
This one may convert into some specific statements:
“Shrek must bring princess to Farquaad to take control over his swamp.”
Or… something like that.
For this set: Mind, Preconscious, Effect
The general statement is something like this:
“tale is about some characters that are fixed on the unthinking reactions somethings causes them and have problems with the effect this causes”

Now, the question is what would be an example of a statement for concerns from Manipulation and Situation Domains.

If any of you find this approach useful I would like to ask you for assistance with examples of general and possibly related specific statements.
I’ll try to be back and provide something from my side.

@Seener I love Dramatica for Screenwriters and think this technique is useful to practice illustrating a storyform you already know (whether it’s your own story or one that has already been analyzed).

I think it would be much harder to use this to figure out the storyform of an existing story unless you have a ton of experience – it’s not always easy to see past the storytelling to the actual source of conflict.

Anyway, @jhull 's playground exercises (which are slightly modified from Armando’s Instant Dramatica approach are a very useful way to learn how to illustrate a story): A Playground for Writers - Series of Articles - Narrative First

So to take an example from my novel (which was not written with Dramatica but which some of us analyzed here).

A young soldier living on a divided island (Situation) crosses into occupied territory to retrieve a keepsake (Past) in order to win the heart of his childhood love (Desire).

Again though, I would be careful with this – I can write the sentence above and it is very clear to me because I wrote the book, I know what the sources of conflict are, and we did a detailed analysis. I’m not sure it would always be so clear (but maybe it’s a place to start?).


Thank you for Playground link. Looks promising.
Maybe I wasn’t clear enough:) Yes, I want to write a story. All those reverse analyses are a way to better understand the theory and its usability.
I remember the first day I found the Dramatica Theory book.
I remember this feeling. It’s just a matter of time to gat a Noble Prize in literature. A lot of stories few clicks from me and it’s so simple. Just sit, write and get the prize. What’s problem.
I suppose, you know what’s next.
Learning is not equal to understanding. Obtaining does not convert into Dr Jones getting the Arc of Covenant. Storyform is not equal to story. Theory is not equal to practice.
Oh man, there is so much inequity in this world.
So different stories share the same storyform and it is a lot of study and work to put it all together.
But first lesson learned. Story form is a foundation. Solid, strong, sound but just a foundation.
Now with Armando’s work, Plot Progression, Character Arc, Throughline Development and Synopsis usability of the theory raised sky high.
I prefer to circle may stories with all soldiers armed. Fire at will.
It starts with some piece of idea, like outer space Earth-like planet with everything you need to have a nice life here. Atmosphere, food, water, no animals ready to kill you. And few hundred of colonist.
What can go wrong? Someone is unhappy in this paradise. What is the strongest manifestation of unhappiness that comes into my mind? Suicide. Let’s say there is a series of suicides in this outer world.
Now let’s start with some character. Fast Forward here.
There may be a place for a crime story, for a romantic interest, for a personal drama, for some general thoughts about people who have everything these days and still feel unhappy, like celebrities tending to drinking problem or some activity that brings attention of others.
There is a wind. Now I need Dramatica to convert it into energy.
Let’s try to set up some storyform(s) and see what may work, what I have and what I need. What is there and what is missing. What I feel and what I do not. I have some paths to build a Plot Synopsis and Character Arc - at least I think I have.
I can go forth and back with every ‘soldier’ I have until I find something that works for me.
And to be honest (however it may result with ban on this forum :wink: I’m not a believer. I can enjoy stories that are not complete in terms of dramatica but still work for me. Ok, shhh, don’t tell anyone.
Throughlines is a trouble are. That’s why I’m looking for some assistance. Armando’s way with domain, concern and problem looks like interesting way to deal with it. To have a point of start for development, signposts and so on.
I’ll share some of my examples but I would also find someone who will challenge my mind and help me to find my faults.
So… If you wish, enjoy.

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There are a lot of “stories” that I enjoy that wouldn’t be considered complete stories by Dramatica’s standards. Entertainment value doesn’t necessarily indicate strong story structure.

Totally OK to say here :blush:


So, do I. In about 1996 I was at an airport waiting lounge experiencing the world drifting by me, literally, while reading, not able to put it down. That was after having bought the software in Portland, Oregon then traveling to Burbank for a weekend workshop to figure it out, where someone working for Screenplay Systems stopped me on a stairway and handed me the big, fat Theory Book. I wonder if it was Jim. He had black hair then, whomever. It threw me into the instinct meeting intellect universe. Still there … haha.


Ok, let’s start some exercise :slight_smile:
I hope I still remember what was my intention.
For me the easiest domain to understand is Physics/Activity.
I would put here something like taking activity/stopping activity/lack of activity as possible general statements.
Now time for concern.
Obtaining/or possibly loosing something
And let’s take ‘Control’ as a problem - lack of control included.
Our triad for Domain, Concern, Problem is:
Activity, Obtaining, Control.
General statement would be:
Tale is about a character who is trying to obtain/loose something to change negative effect of having no control on something/being under control.
Yes, it is from Armando’s example but a little bit generalized.
So, examples:
Rebels have to destroy Empire to get out of control.
Everyone want’s to get Letters of Transit to get escape from Nazi controlled territory.
Charlie want’s to get an inheritance to cover his investment in the car business.

I would like to know your opinion on the general statement for this triad and maybe some other examples.

I would like to ask you for some assistance.
I have overall story based on: Activity, Doing, Result.
So, the story is about characters doing something to change (remove) negative effect of result.
I understand this part of my story - it is about overuse of the power given by the king - works for me with other connected overall story elements.
I have some problem in MC story: Fixed Attitude, Impulsive Responses, Result.
The main character is fixed on impulsive responses and has a problem with a result.
The MC story (at least right now) is about being greedy (change/good) and I have a problem to verbalize it in terms of Armando’s Instant Dramatica.
I need to change Domain/Concern/Problem into valuable sentence that helps to define the MC story.
Mr X wants to be reach (Impulsive Responses?) but king’s guards have him to pay more than he could ever had (Result)
makes any sense for you?

The best way to get your Muse started with something is using the Gists in Dramatica resp. Subtext. Gists may also give you a first glimpse of the Story you may want or don’t want to tell.

Here is just an example made up of Gists from Dramatica resp. based on your post:

OS Activity, Doing, Result

Everyone > Overuses the power given by the king > Doing Something De-Constructive > Being Focused on the negative Outcome of an Action

MC Fixed Attitude, Impulsive Responses, Result.

Main Hero > Being Greedy By Birth > Reacting Impulsive To Something > Being Result Oriented toward Something Special

If it does not Make Sense to you, try changing the Gists which doesnt work…