Mind Concern for MC

Can ‘being believed’ (rather than what the MC believes in) for an MC fall under Mind?

Context: she lied once, and this forever haunts her in the story…so she has a need to be believed.


I would say yes, absolutely. Although I don’t think that one aspect would necessarily force the MC Domain to be Mind, so I’d make sure the other story points for MC and IC match up as well.

It definitely could work really well with something like MC Symptom of Disbelief, or a Problem of Faith. Or even Consider, just as a few possible options out of many that could work.


That’s great, Mike, thanks!

Her need to be believed forms part of her backstory so a Concern of Subconscious — it eats away at her under the surface — works well.

Again, thank you!


This would be an instance of using the Method as storytelling. It’s Mind-ing, not needing a Mind.

If you need somebody to believe you, the problem is within the need, not the belief. “I’m a liar” would describe someone dealing with that state of mind, and the OS would likely be Understanding/Learning or Conceptualizing/Conceiving.

Though typically, someone dealing with the fallout of their lies is working with a Concern of the Past (Inception).

Writing with Methods


The other thing too—ascribing Main Character Storypoints to other characters is almost always an avoidance of developing an actual Main Character Throughline.

It’s not my problem, it’s theirs is projection. In this case, it would be the Author projecting conflict—which means in the end, it won’t work.


Jim, just to be clear, you are agreeing with everything @whitepaws and I said? Except suggesting that it’s more likely that the Concerns fall in upper-left/bottom-right?

I definitely think Anne needs more to go on to determine the storyform. But I like how you equated “she lied once, and this forever haunts her in the story” to the “I’m a liar” belief – that’s what I was thinking too.

Right, so are you saying it’s good that she didn’t do that? (There was no mention of other characters.) Or maybe you are cautioning her to keep it focused on the MC because thinking of it as “being believed” is a slippery slope towards projecting conflict onto other characters?


Thanks, Jim.

So, if the MC was a pathological liar, that would without question fall under Mind. But since she only lied once, she’s not a pathological lair but her reputation eats away at her…to the point where she can get snappy, defensive and quality control strict with herself. Does that work?

[edited out others because she’s not strict with others, only herself.]

To be honest, it would be easier if she were a straightforward pathological liar, LOL!

1 Like

OMG, yes!

I think that any time you ask a question like this, pause and ask yourself to put it into some kind of context. What is the OS? How does the character try to solve their problems?

For instance, what you describe could be something like… She lied once, and now people are quick to judgement when they hear what she has to say. So that’s the Problem. But how does she solve it? Because Dramatica ultimately is about solving problems.


Interesting thread @whitepaws.

@jhull’s point notwithstanding, my first read on “being believed” is that it sounds like an Issue under Memory: Falsehood, Truth, Suspicion or Evidence.

If it’s Truth, for example, the Problem could be Perception (she has problems because everyone perceives her as a liar).

… also could be Memory, no?

And this would fit with an OS of Understanding/Conceptualizing


If the problem for her is that everyone perceives her to be a liar, then she is aware of that, and it’s no longer a Problem by Dramatica’s standards.

If it’s instead something she focuses on, then her actual Problem would either be Knowledge or Thought. Her personally not Knowing whether she is a liar or not, or Thinking everyone is out to get her. Those would be personal Methods of conflict that generate inequity for her.

Thinking in terms of Methods, or functions, is the best way to understand how these work to describe a story. In addition to my previously linked article, Melanie goes into it greater detail here: Building an Artificial AI

Pulling the most relevant quote (this, in regards to Proaction):

For example, the Dramatica element “proaction” is not a thing or a state but describe the process by which the mind instigates an action of initiative, as opposed to one of reaction. “Reaction” is in there too, and represents the mental process that leads one to respond (or not) to a stimulus.


Like @mlucas and @MWollaeger pointed out, it’s hard to know for sure without the other Throughlines in place. The one only means something within context of the other three—so we’re constantly trying to hit a moving target by only talking about one.

That said, a pathological liar usually describes someone with a dysfunctional way of thinking, or problematic Psychology. Lying once is not Mind, nor is reputation. The latter is often indicative of your status amongst others, which is a Universe problem.

Either way, it’s still outwardly focused, and more likely than not not a part of the Main Character Throughline.




Thanks for the deep discussion. There’s always so much to learn when it comes to Dramatica.

I took some time to consider this more deeply, and I think this desire for the MC to be heard/believed does fall under Mind because she’s stuck on it. Also, her deep desire, longing, yearning is Subconcious.

She has an obsession with how her lie was exposed more than anyone else in the story. So when an opportunity comes at her to clear her name, she grabs it with both hands. Every other character in the story could care less (they’ve all lied at some point in their careers).

Now, it could be that I’m twisting Dramatica to suit my story. But I figure that as long as I twist all the other throughlines equally, it should all work out just fine, :laughing:

1 Like

What I’m about to point out is incidental and I wouldn’t normally do it because assigning something to an appreciation just because we see a word that matches something on the DTSE isn’t really how it works. But nevertheless, consider that Desire = Psychology.

What do these things tell us about what this character thinks?

The idea of being stuck can, I think, be a little tricky in some cases. A belief is “stuck” in that that belief will always be that belief whether someone accepts it or not. But being “stuck on an a belief” or “obsessing over a belief” can be a process of continually examining a belief.

It’s the difference between being stuck with a particular video game because it’s the only game in the house, and being stuck playing a video game because you can’t beat the last level. Both are versions of being “stuck” but one is the state of my game library where the other is a process of repeatedly playing it. One is what I’m stuck with while the other is how I’m stuck on it.

Similarly, a belief is like a feature or state of the mind while an obsession describes how that mind keeps returning to something.

FWIW, my initial reaction to your original question was that being believed can be Mind if it describes what and not how because it’s not what happens in the story that matters so much as what you are saying or what it means. But Jims advice seems to be a much firmer “no” and is much more practical. I’d consider it strongly.


I don’t think Jim’s was a “no” but an “it depends”.

I do think we need to be very careful about saying “no” when it comes to whether something fits a particular element. We often talk about the veil between the Author and the Audience, which is what we need to pierce in order to conduct an analysis and determine the storyform of a work.

A similar veil exists during the process of story creation, but it has a lot more layers. Maybe there is a perfect storyform built into the idea in the author’s head, but he is still trying to tease out exactly what that is. Things can get lost in translation. Maybe the author has a tendency to mix up structure with storytelling or describes things from the character’s point of view, when they’re explaining their story. Yet when they go off to write their intuition gives them a story with flawless structure.

If we tell them a flat-out “no, that doesn’t fit” – they might question their perfectly valid ideas and try to change something in their story that’s important, that already works. Instead, we need to strive for a fuller understanding of the story to get past the potential “translation” issues.


I agree. Some people watch a movie and enjoy different parts of it, creating different films in their memories. I say trust your writer’s wants for the first draft. We wouldn’t want something wonderful to be missing.


Great points, Mike. I agree with everything you said, and I didn’t mean to speak for Jim. He did not say no, it won’t work for Mind. I simply took the accumulated meaning of his response to tend toward a net negative. So not a hard and fast “no”, but one more firm than “it depends”.

But while Jim is aware—he’s probably the one that taught most or all of us—that we can say anything we want about the subject matter of pathological lying, he also lets us know that what people usually want to talk about when they talk about pathological lying is Psychology. A statement bolstered by his years of experience with Dramatica and other writers, which is why I point out that his advice is much more practical than my own. His answer was practical in 1. that he’s got far more time and space (or, if you prefer, years and work with other writers) in Dramatica than the rest of us, and 2. “it depends” is an answer that points to what is theoretically possible while “usually this is that” is an answer that tries to get at what is probably and practically being spoken to.

And just so that it’s clear to others, Mike, I want to say that Mike and I are not arguing over anything here (I think, though, again, I shouldn’t speak for others :wink:) but simply pointing out the way that conversations on the forum are sometimes deficient. We often answer questions based on assumptions about what’s being asked because it just isnt feasible to expect someone to provide a novel-length question in order to provide full context and it isn’t feasible to expect others to read or reply to something like that. So instead, questions get asked without full context and answers are given that are full of assumed and implied _if_s and _but_s.

So it is good to point out sometimes that some answers are more theoretical while others are more practical and not to abandon all hope, ye who enter here because you were told something didn’t work. If you ask a question and do get a “no, that doesn’t work” answer, always feel free to follow up with another question.

“What would work here?”
“How do I get this to work here?”
“How can I address this topic within that element?”


Nicely put, Greg.

Yeah I definitely agree about Jim’s long experience helping many different writers. It’s a huge benefit to this community and everyone he interacts with.

I think my inner child will forever remain sensitive to “no” because of how, before I found Dramatica, other story theories told me no – and were wrong. “No, your MC can’t remain steadfast, she must change! She must believe a lie until she discovers her truth!” etc. (It was very hurtful and demoralizing at the time, because I thought there had to be something wrong with me and my ideas. Thank heaven for Dramatica.)


This is brilliant. I think we should write those questions down and refer to them often and as we try to articulate our particular story problem. Which question an I trying to answer?

If I’m simply trying to come up with an illustration for to fill out a story point (“What would work here”), I might wonder if “being believed” could be a gist for Mind – but realize maybe it’s not the best choice, as Psychology would fit better.

On the other hand, I might have already dreamed up this piece of storytelling, and don’t want to abandon it – but the rest of my storyform tells me I have an MC in Mind. Then the latter two questions are more appropriate: (“How do I get this to work here?" and “How can I address this topic within that element?”)

This is how you come up with the most interesting stories, probably. For example, say you have an MC who is an undocumented immigrant. Logic suggests she has a Universe problem. But let’s say your chosen Dramatica storyform leads you to an MC who is in Mind. Figuring out out to make this character’s immigration status a Mind problem could lead to all kinds of deep and creative storytelling – like a character whose real problems stems from her fear of being discovered and her inability to tell a lie.


I agree!

Lets say you like a specific premise, and you already have your protagonist in mind, well, by golly the protag needs to fit! It can fit in nicely, with a bit of tweaking. This way can generate a very creative story.

I remember in one thread a while ago, @Greg, I believe, talked about this method. He wanted to write about werewolves attacking a town. So, we participated in the exercise and wrote brief one-line scenes in each of the Domains using werewolves attacking a town as the subject. That gave us some very interesting results!