Midpoint: Where is the False Victory in Dramatica?

Would you say Midpoint needs to look like this?

False Victory:
Midpoint sequence is a success and takes them closer to their goal, the stakes are raised, from here on out, they have to deal with the (possibly negative) consequences of their irreversible actions.

  • the false victory is lovers (or buddies) becoming more invested in the relationship, the emotional stakes are raised.
  • the false victory of gaining help comes with a great sacrifice or at a steep price.
  • the false victory creates urgency with a time clock.
  • the false victory of making progress means the hero is crossing a line they can’t uncross.

(based on Blake Snyder)

In other words, as an author, do you still use this concept like this, because it’s expected to be like this? Or does Dramatica story theory view midpoint differently?

In my case, my midpoint is between OS Doing/Learning (and MC Past/ Progress).

1 Like

Dramatica says you need a beat in your story because it’s a crucial step in mimicking the minds problem solving process and builds an important part of the argument your story is making. Blake Snyder says you need a story beat because he saw it in Miss Congeniality 2 or whatever. Are you making an argument, or are you writing Miss Congeniality 2?

Basically, Dramatica’s beats mean something. Snyder’s beats do not. They are an audience appreciation of story rather than Dramatica’s author appreciation of story. As the author, there’s no reason to take an audience view while writing the story.


So would you say a false victory halfway through is not typically part of the mind’s processing of how to solve a problem?

I try and fail
I try and succeed but fail
I try and almost fail
But then I succeed.

I wonder if it the perception of some kind of false victory at the midpoint is an audience appreciation of the structural bump between quads / journeys that happens in some storyforms at the midpoint.

1 Like

Not in the way Snyder uses it, no. It might be possible to take Dramatica concepts and come up with some sort of Dramatica equivalent if you could determine what that means, I guess. But you’d probably need a more dynamic model to do that. And even then, I don’t really know how “equivalent” it would be.

My guess would be that Snyder was identifying two or more Throughlines with Plot Progressions resembling “hairpins” (slide-bump-slide in the Dramatica theory book). A “False Victory” would be one way to approximate structure from the point-of-view of the characters.

I would try to avoid picking a structure based on this as its somewhat unreliable. It would be like trying to fly a helicopter in dense cloud cover without instrumentation—you wouldn’t be able to tell which way is up abs which way is down.


I think the False Victory is by-product of Want/Need thinking. The Hero is pursuing what they want, and they achieve some sort of high point (the victory) but it’s short-lived or has bad consequences (so it’s false) and that gets the character to abandon their Want and start down a new path that leads to their Need.

This is non-dramatica thinking. If you can get it to work for you, mazel. But it’s not necessary, and I could never get it to work for me.

How this plays out practically: I read a script yesterday where a guy pretending to be a detective makes headway around the midpoint and then gets told by the cops to stop what he’s doing. Was this a false victory? Or a true victory?

I would say it’s a true victory (real progress!) but Blake would say it’s a false victory (it moves him off his path of playing detective). And this is why I hate most screenwriting books—they’re too pliable.


Okay, so I see that what “they” are noticing is the beginning of the abandon cycle, or the conflict with the MC Issue vs IC. That helps. It also possibly coincides with our Response element transitioning to Problem element.

I’d be careful thinking that characters “notice” anything—that’s not universal.
I’d be careful thinking that this moment is necessarily the beginning of the abandon cycle, because that runs in direct conflict with “leap of faith” stories.
I’d be careful equating anything that happens with a “hero” to “MC vs IC” because false victories are usually (??) issues the Protagonist deals with (I say without doing much research).

I don’t know what this means. The Problem is always there in the story.

Oh, what I mean by ‘they’ is that the people (ie save the cat) who define midpoint as a false victory.

This would be the change brought on by an impact character.


I’m not sure if this one can solve all the problems but I think it is worth to mention it.
I may be biased by Armando’s work a little bit but here is an article that puts some light on the usability of the Dramatica theory.
Especially the fourth paragraph.
In my mind Dramatica is not a complete independent solution but more like solid framework.
It tells what pieces we need and how to put this puzzle together but there is nothing about the picture on it.
It may be landscape, portrait, battle, sport car or anything else.
The story may have different forms. Movie, novel, short story, TV series and so on. I believe there was someone successful with songwriting (!) with Dramatica theory.
Armando’s advice is to know very well the format and than adopt Story Structure to it.
Up to my knowledge there is no MIDPOINT in Dramatica but it (usually) is in screenplays.
My guess is there is no 1-to1 connection between those two but it is possible to find it - maybe for every story independently.
It may be interesting exercise to track som possibilities comparing ‘220 Plot Point Breakdowns’ (free pdf from ScriptLab) with related Dramatica StoryForms.


As is typical for me, I see your question differently.

There is nothing in dramatica that says any given story point must be positive or negative. So any story beat could be an up feeling beat or a down feeling beat, which could obviously be interpreted as a victory or a loss, but if that upbeat comes with an outcome (from the PRCO) that feels negative, well then, that could certainly be considered a “false victory”. You could even use the P from the following scene to give it that down beat feel. That’s one of the gifts about Dramatica, it doesn’t lock you in.

That’s why in the conflict corner

It’s Can/Can’t

of which ever element, Variation, type or class

You get to pick whatever aspect floats your boat and tells the story you want to tell and feels the way you want it to feel.