Learning as a Story Goal

I’m working on a story, and I’m trying to wrap my head around the OS Concern of Learning. After realizing that I was encoding the OS Concern and Throughline incorrectly, I started looking here. Then I found the following from this discussion:

Which makes me wonder… How do you reconcile the OS Concern/Story Goal with what the characters believe their goal is?
For instance, in the story that I’m working on, the Overall Story is supposed to be about learning what it takes to survive living with a tyrant. However, the way that I originally encoded my story, only the Protagonist was really concerned with this, as she was going through different steps while trying to learn a specific piece of information.

So if all of the characters are supposed to be going through the process of learning, does it matter what the characters say in terms of their goal? Could the OS Concern still be “Learning what it takes to deal with a tyrant” while the characters believe that their goal is “Winning the House Cup” or something?

If that’s the case, then would the Overall Story signposts be about what the characters understand, do, and obtain on their way to finally learning?

I’m pretty sure I’ve found the answer to my question. However, I’m having trouble figuring out how to delete a post.

But I think that the problem I’m having is that I’m so used to looking at story subjectively. Which makes plotting with Dramatica kind of… weird? However, I did figure out how to better encode the story goal after reading a few Narrative First articles.


If it’s OK with you, I would love to leave this post up…for obvious reasons :joy:

Seriously though, that’s the biggest thing - it’s Learning from the Author’s point-of-view-as in, the Author is positioning Learning as the source of greatest concern for all the characters in the Overall Story.

Learning is a weird one anyways - rarely do I see a story where the characters are actually interested in learning something. Teaching sometimes works. And showing someone what’s what (teaching them what’s up). So it’s not surprising that it’s hard to find a subjective point of view towards learning.

As long as you’ve got it from the Author’s point of view, you’re good.


It’s okay with me to leave it up. Maybe it’ll help someone else.

It did help to think about the goal as what the characters need to achieve in order to resolve the problem they’re having. And it’s funny that you mentioned showing someone what’s what, because I ended up flipping the goal around so that it’s about the characters teaching the tyrant what’s what. Once I did that, the conflicts of the acts for the Overall Story became clear.


Wow, Adana… I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that you are going to do very well with Dramatica!

You seem to be able to identify really well where you’re having trouble, ask specific and intelligent questions, even research the answers yourself. Most importantly you’re willing to let go of preconceptions that might otherwise cause you trouble.

You’re also using the process of writing to learn, which is great for grasping how the theory works in practice.

Keep going! :wink:


What is the Author’s POV? What the Author wants the characters to want (ex. OS Goal: “Winning the House Cup,” but Failure/Good to convey the Author’s point about that one should value friendship over ambition) or is it what the Author wants the whole story to be about? (ex. valuing friendship vs. ambition to achieve external validation, which I suppose would be OS Goal: Impulsive Responses, since it contains Value vs Worth)

When it comes to the Author’s POV, I look at it as wanting the characters to learn something, and making the conflicts and difficulties in the story come from the characters going through the process of learning that something.

So, for the House Cup example, the characters may be trying to win the House Cup, but objectively, they’re really going through the process of learning how to work together as a team. So while they’re performing tasks and answering riddles and running in races and such, they’re also gathering information about each other:

  • taking the necessary steps to get to know someone,
  • learning someone’s preferences (the preconditions of being friends with them),
  • analyzing reactions and feelings, and
  • figuring out the best plan for getting said friends to get along and work towards a goal.

That’s how I see it. It also works when it comes to teaching something as well. Things just kind of get reversed.


Isn’t learning the story goal in the wizard of oz? That’s what they ask Dorothy at the end, “What did you learn, Dorothy?”

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The goal in the Wizard of Oz (according to the DUG analysis) is in Subconscious/Innermost Desires, as in finding what one truly wants — a brain; a heart; courage etc.

Hmmm. I find that odd, because they HAD all those things, they just needed to learn to recognize that they did.

But then, since it’s within a Fixed Mindset, wouldn’t it be that they needed to get out of the mindset that told them that they didn’t have those things? Which is kind of the same as learning to recognize it, I agree. But in terms of how they actually went about doing it, it was a matter of them changing their mindsets, since engaging in activities wasn’t enough to show them what they had.

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It’s worth noting that it’s a start story with a solution of Faith. So Dorothy has to start believing that she already has (and everyone else has) everything they want within them (which is definitely the goal, but I don’t know how to word it as such). I think that’s where the whole 'but they already had it" thing. They have to start recognizing it.

It’s very similar to Learning (and Understanding, kind of). They’re the two most internal concerns of the Physics domain, so it makes sense that we have trouble separating them from the actual internal concerns.

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With a Dramatica storyform, it’s never about what the characters “need” or what they “should” do, or what they “learn”. It’s always what is. What is the conflict? Where is the trouble? Where is the inequity?

A Concern of Learning requires struggle in the actual process of acquiring or gathering information. I always think of going to school and the conflict experienced while learning:

  • you have tests to pass and pop-quizzes to survive. Those are the Prerequisites
  • you have lesson plans which conflict with your plans to get every class covered. That is Strategy
  • you have progress reports and parent/teacher conferences. That’s putting up with Analysis
  • you have cliques, ASB, rallies, and fund-raisers - those are Preconditions

Dramatica is about the education process, not about the students.


Jim, I totally agree. But that’s why I think it should be learning.

Those thing (prerequisites, Strategy, Analysis, preconditions) are the things they were doing in WofO.

Perquisites (getting there, being dissatisfied, making friends/allies)
Strategy (How do we get food, do we take others with us, how do we keep off the witch’s radar)
Analysis (You’ve had the power to go home all the time/it was something I had to learn myself, put out the fire with water, you’re just a humbug/you can’t help me)
Preconditions (saving toto, getting the broomstick, control of the ruby slippers)

To me, I don’t see (closure, hope, denial, or dreams).

You and Chris always say that it supports your interpretation if you have 3 instances of each…I see Learning, not Innermost desires.

Closure: Bringing their time in Oz to an end, and getting the witch/the mean lady who wants to kill Toto to go away.
Hope: Hoping the Wizard will help them.
Dream: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and the fact that it was all literally a dream

I’m drawing a blank on Denial, though.

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The ruby slippers refuse to come off unless the wearer is dead (I think?), and they’re also denied entry to the Emerald City initially.