Master of your Domains

Hey everyone,

Wanted to share a breakthrough I had in an old story idea that may be interesting to others here.

For the better part of ten years I’ve had this story kicking around in my head. Every time I’ve tried to storyform it, I just found myself struggling between what I found interesting about the idea and whatever the storyform I had settled on was telling me I needed to complete the story.

Inevitably, I would give up. Maybe this is destined to be a tale, I thought. It’s a weird sci-fi, horror, thriller idea. Maybe the pieces are too disparate to actually have a greater meaning.

Well, there have been a few things recently that have inspired me to take another look:

  • In the Writer’s Room analysis of Don’t Go In The Water, @jhull said the OS problem / solution should feel super obvious. That idea of not over thinking and being more reductive lead to a few breakthroughs in other stories I had been stuck on.

  • Working through the Train to Busan analysis with @MWollaeger, and arguing (incorrectly, I might add) domains for Living with Yourself seemed to really sharpen my ability to look for underlying conflict.

  • Finally, the Home Alone re-analysis, and the freeing idea that a Relationship Throughline doesn’t have to be shoehorned between Main and Influence character.

The basic idea of the story is a recluse haunted by a traumatic home invasion who has since spent his life building up ways to keep everyone out of his apartment and his life is thrust into a fight for survival when his apartment is teleported to a dimension filled with monsters. Eventually, he learns that laying down his arms and succumbing to fate is the only way out.

Pretty kooky, stuff.

For some reason, I had always been 100% positive this was an OS Physics / MC Universe story. Reading back through the Home Alone analysis made me think, this idea seems similar to Home Alone on a genre level.

I fired up Dramatica, set the Domains and Concerns to Home Alone’s and, wouldn’t you know it, there was Protection / Inaction staring back at me.

Loading this new storyform into Subtext, I looked at the randomly gist-ified premise:

Absolute chills. After 10 years, Dramatica and Subtext were reflecting my insane, weirdo story back at me. Pure magic.

If Dramatica is a cult, then count me among the faithful. This is the sweetest Kool-Aid I’ve had in a long time. :smile:

Has anyone else had any similar experiences? What were you stuck on in your storyform and what got you to next stage?


As a short time observer and even shorter time contributor, I wholeheartedly agree with you. However, if this ends up with all of us meeting in Dramaticatown, [insert Latin American country], then count me out. I gotta draw the line somewhere! :laughing:

This post was very helpful. Thanks.


What if we all get really cool hats? :wink:


I asked for a robe once. Mr Huntley said no.:disappointed:

For me it’s several things. Not locking in on a single perspective to begin with…overthinking everything…not paying attention to who all is experiencing conflict. It’s easy to say one throughline is this because of that reason only to realize way down the road that that throughline couldnt have been, say, the OS because yeah all the characters are there but only the MC actually has conflict from it. And then I sometimes get stuck when I see a domain level super clear, but have trouble
switching to the character level to find Elements. Usually, some space and time from the project allow me to stop thinking about it so that one day, when I least expect it, I’ll think about it again and suddenly see obvious elements at play.


Totally. It’s like the more excited you are about an idea the harder it is to storyform. I always jump into storyforming too early.

I think I’m getting better at trusting that I can follow my muse/intuition and a storyform will be there somewhere.


Maybe hit up Melanie. I never asked Dad for anything if Mom was around.

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Srsly, here’s the reply


Ha! I think I actually read that thread a while back and totally forgot that story. :smile:

Awesome! Thanks so much for your documenting your experience here, Glenn. This reminds me of a blog post I wrote a while ago, where I was so impressed with the accuracy of the random story beats that I was like “Mr Hull, is Subtext powered by demons?” :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. :slight_smile:

Great blog post. I hope others here have had similar experiences because it’s such an incredible thing when it happens.