Multiple POV, IC as OS Protagonist, MC as OS Antagonist

Not exactly. I’ll explain in a moment, but first, what I was referring to and what DFS was referring to are two different things. Without a copy of DFS in front of me to look at, it seems DFS is defining literary terms that describe the relationship between audience and character in the story-mainly, what information the audience does or doesn’t have vs what the characters in the story do or do not have. The reference I made was to the idea of the IC throughline as one possible perspective that a single mind can take. As a perspective, it’s not about what the MC or Storymind or audience know, but about how things are being observed-or perhaps I should say where they are being observed from.

An example. Character A has a task to do but doesn’t know how to get started. Character B also has a task to do but seems to know how to get started. Character A wants to know what Character B does to get started. Assuming Character A is an MC, as soon as they look to Character B to see how to handle the problem, Character B becomes the IC to A’s MC. A could look over her shoulder at B to see what B does while not having a clue what B is actually doing. Or A could ask B and B could tell A everything. Either way is still an example of A wondering what B is up to. So again, it’s not really whether the MC or the audience know what’s going on in the ICs mind or whether there’s any actual hidden info from one character or another, or even whether the audience knows what’s going on that creates an IC. What creates an IC is when the attempts to solve a problem by one character or perspective are influenced by the attempts of another character or perspective to solve a problem.

So to answer your question, deep POV scenes with the IC are allowed. They just need to influence the way MC perspective of the Storymind is attempting to solve its problem.

1 Like

Not addressing the idea of the IC being the MC of a subplot here, but the idea of the IC appearing to be a 2nd MC to the audience, as in the IC has POV scenes that make them indistinguishable from the MC because the audiences knows just as much about them as the actual MC. This is, I’m sure, more than okay to do.

As an example, consider Shawshank Redemption. Ask most people and they’ll tell you that Andy Dufresne is the MC because we see so deeply into his character. And yet, structurally, he is the one influencing Red to go into his parole hearing and tell them to stamp their form and quit wasting his time rather than repeat the same rehearsed speech that he thinks they want to hear. The storytelling is not the storyform. You can tell your IC perspective to your audience however you want. It can look like the IC is an MC as long as the story the IC is dealing with is the one that contains the IC story points. As far as the influence goes, you can show this, or you can just treat the IC as though writing another MC and trust the storyform. If you do it right, the Storymind-and thus the audience-will make the connection that in order for the MC to change or remain steadfast, we had to see this other character doing these things. The very act of the MC being influenced is built in simply by virtue of the story exploring the problem from that perspective. Influence is something the characters CAN have within the story, but can also just be something that happens to the Storymind as it observes the IC story unfold. This might not make a lot of sense if one doesn’t have a good idea of what the Storymind is, but I’m sure is sound advice.

I haven’t seen the writers room, but I wonder if he means that ‘seeking the treasure’ should be illustrated through run ins with ghosts and pirates and ghost pirates and sword fights, while ‘seeking the treasure’ as an RS Concern should look more like becoming friends or enemies over attempts to find the treasure, or as an IC concern showing how seeking the treasure influences the MC to be more manipulative. Is something like that what was meant?

This may not help at all, but imagine you are walking somewhere far away and to get there you keep climbing up and then down some really treacherous mountains. You think to yourself ‘this is difficult, but if I keep going I will get there.’ That’s one way to look at it. And since it’s the perspective that you take, it will be the I or MC perspective.

But then, after a while, you think to yourself ‘what if I were to walk around the the mountains? Wouldn’t that be easier?’ Even though you are thinking in terms of yourself, you are now looking at another perspective. Since you are walking over the mountains, this is not the perspective you have taken. It’s as if you’re imagining someone else walking around the mountain when you walked over it. So that’s the You or IC perspective. Both the perspective you took (MC walking over mtns) and the perspective you didn’t (IC walking around) take place in the same mind. Your mind. But when writing a story, you can give these two separate perspectives to two separate characters and follow the journeys of each as they go over and around the mountains. Two different perspective, two different characters, still one mind.


Does the IC’s problem solving “answer” have to be exactly related to the inequity? or is the influence any kind of momentum that gets the MC to move in “their” way?

In my story, the IC’s approach is the cause of the inequity (not the inequity itself). IC wants the MC to take his approach, consider it NOT inequity. She is watching his take and considering it, but as steadfast STOP

Also, can the IC’s impact be indirect? If she doesn’t meet the IC until end of Act One, but is impacted by his decisions and his “machine” so to speak, is that a present IC? Or do I need a character to embody his perspective?

1 Like

I’m sure this is right, but I also believe it can be difficult to prevent confusion when doing this if one is in the early process of learning Dramatica or storyforming their story. Though, it is nice to keep in mind for more complicated stories.

Absolutely. In my own WIP, the player (character) that embodies the Influence Character for the first three Signposts of the IC Throughline is completely and utterly onscreen. However, at the end of the third Signpost, he secrets his way out from the village where he and the MC were staying. This signifies the start of his Change (the MC is the Steadfast perspective), but it’s not the end of his influence:

The final Signpost is Learning, and the final influence on the MC comes from the MC’s Learning that the IC player left so he could try to figure out what the MC seems to have that the IC doesn’t.* In essence, it’s the final piece that the MC needs to strengthen his foothold, but it comes from what is left behind, not from anything that could be called a “character” per se. At least, that is my current outline for it, and I kind of hope to keep it that way, but we’ll see what happens when I get to the actual writing. (This is kind of the opposite of what you describe as it’s influence from absence at the end, but it holds the same idea. There isn’t a player on the board to represent an IC, but the empty space is enough to influence the MC. Basically, so long as the influence can be connected, it should work.**)

*I’m not sure exactly how this is going to work, yet. I was thinking a note, originally, but I think I want to come up with something a bit more unique in the storytelling. Maybe something that uses the magic system or the like…

**And, as @Greg said, it might not even need to be connect. I have an ongoing experimental story where I have four separate tales, with characters that never meet, built using Dramatica. There’s some kind of ineffable connection among the four tales, though. Something strange and fluid, but not quite right to a Linear mind about how “not connected, yet connected” the tales are.

Unfortunately, I don’t have answers to the other questions, so I’m looking forward to hearing from the crowd.

1 Like

Not entirely sure what you mean. The IC answer will be related to the inequity by virtue of being a perspective on dealing with the inequity. So…yes? But it doesn’t have to look anything like the problems the MC, Os or RS are dealing with, if that’s what you mean. If the MC problem is looking for treasure, the IC problem could be being a cut throat in order to get treasure, or being a bad father.

I addressed this in my previous post, which I think was posted about the time you posted, but yes, it can. Consider the mountain example. As you consider walking around instead of over the mtns, you don’t have to imagine a scenario where the you walking over them meets the you walking around them in order to convince yourself that going around is easier. You just need to imagine that, had you gone around instead, it would have been easier. What you are doing and what you could be doing are not connected that way. What connects them is that both are in your mind and you are able to observe both and make a decision about how to continue. Your mind observing the difference between the two is what connects them. In the same way, the MC and IC are connected by the Storymind observing each of them and making a decision. So your MC can be a 1930’s American gangster while your IC is a space ranger from a planet that formed billions of years after the earth exploded and the two never meet and, theoretically, the Storymind can make the connection and the gangster be influenced. It might be hard to write that story, and might come off as strange to an audience, but is theoretically sound.

I’ll just say that I think there can be multiple equally valid perspectives on this and leave it at that. :laughing:

Others had good responses on this, but as with most things Dramatica I think the best way is to watch/read lots of examples to get an intuitive sense of how it works. After a while it starts to be come more obvious.

I agree! Maybe this would be a good thread to start here sometime – we could take a few illustrations with gists (from Subtext maybe, or just Dramatica) and practice illustrating them as different throughlines. Like, what are some examples to make this illustration feel more like IC than MC? I know this would be beneficial for me.

I agree, though I think this is a tricky example because (if I remember correctly) the Shawshank story is told in the first person with Red as the narrator. Also isn’t there voiceover in the movie? This all serves to subconsciously convey the idea that Red is the MC even if Andy is the Protagonist.

A better example that pops to mind for me is the novel Lexicon which is told almost 50/50 through two separate points of view (with a just a couple of other switches). I mentioned it in a previous thread, and we couldn’t get consensus on which character was main and which IC. (In retrospect it feels like one storyform to me, and Emily is the MC).

I would have agreed with this in the past, but now I’m not sure. The point of the storyform is that the IC isn’t the same as the MC. And as either the IC or MC can be change/steadfast characters, you can’t even use that as a guide–how do you tell the difference between an IC who influences a Steadfast MC and vice-versa without some idea of “influence” in your mind?

I should emphasize that I’m talking very specifically about the subjective process of writing, using Dramatica. I have no doubt that writers get to complete stories all manner of ways, and may not even consciously know who their own MC and IC are.

I think he would say that example still looks more like OS than than RS, though I should probably let @jhull speak for himself on that.

In the writer’s room example, particular case, he was describing Obtaining more as a matter of control – the relationship has control issues, but also the Goal of the relationship is something about getting together or breaking up. (Writing this, I realize I need to re-listen). Anyway, it was a revelation to me, because up until now I’ve been illustrating my RS idea more the way you describe.


@didomachiatto Maybe this thread will be useful: Does a change main character's "flipped" perspective need to match the influence character's perspective?


But in my case…
OS appears as Test…
MC appears as Result…
IC appears as Test…
RS appears as Test…

That doesn’t look like four different angles on an inequity.

The fact that they all look like Test from within the same mind gives you a good indicator that this particular bout of conflict resolution is going to end in failure. Things rarely look the same from different points-of-view.

Treating the IC as a Main Character lessens the effectiveness of the impact. It’s not a real character as far as Dramatica is concerned: it’s an external perspective. Greg’s example of climbing a mountain is excellent.

This has been suggested before, and I’m definitely open to modifying the presentation of the Storybeats. The difficulty lies in finding an approach that isn’t overly complicated, yet works well across all stories.

We’re also looking into ways to alter the actual Illustrations (the Gists) so that they reflect the Throughline perspective.

Not sure how to do that again, without getting too prescriptive—one marriage’s winning something is another friendship’s dominating the relationship.

The quickest approach now is education. I’ll continue to add more examples in Subtext, as well as continue to publish articles showing how it works.

The separation Lakis speaks about can be summed up in this: Dramatica is modelling how you think NOT how you write stories.

You will naturally gravitate towards a narrative structure that models your personal truth.

Until you align both, you’ll need to have one template that reflects the mental process, and another that is your story.

Eventually you’ll be able to do both at the same time within the same document.


Well, I mean I was conflating meanings a bit for purposes of the conversation.

When I said that as long as the IC deals with IC storypoints it’s fine, that’s saying that as long as the IC is structurally an IC it’s fine. When I say you can treat your IC like an MC, what I mean is that you can show the character to the audience, let them peek inside his head a bit, and it’s ok because he is still a structural IC.

Structurally, no, the IC shouldn’t look like the MC. But if you ask someone who is unfamiliar with dramatica how many main characters your story has and they answer two because the storytelling has allowed them to see into the lives and minds of each character-that is, because your IC looks like an MC in the way his journey is told-you are not diminishing the meaning of your story. Even people who think Shawshank has 2 main characters or that think Andy is the only main character can still receive the message of the movie just fine. Basically, my point is that as long as story structure is sound, storytelling can be what it needs to be to convey that message, even if it means having POV scenes that let the audience into the mind of the IC.

TLDR: I used IC to refer to the story structure of the character and MC as a shorthand for how one can story tell the character without restraint.


That connection between them is the Storymind itself. It’s the part that can do things for a while (climb over mtns) and then consider another way (walk around the mtns). That’s why the stories don’t have to be connected through storytelling. Their spatial and temporal arrangement within the same story mind are enough to connect them.

There is something else to consider in this sort of experiment, though. If your storytelling between throughlines leaves them obviously separated, you are counting on the Storymind and the audience to connect them. Some of the audience probably won’t, but some of them probably will. The Storymind will keep up with it just fine as long as the structure is solid.

BUT if your storytelling makes the stories look like they’re supposed to be connected through storytelling and yet you don’t show your MC in some way relating with your IC, you’re probably going to have some storytelling issues that get in the way of your message. If your story is about Frank the policeman chasing Jim the bad guy, and the storyform would have Frank influencing Jim to turn himself in, and yet they never meet and Jim has no knowledge of Frank or his actions and yet Franks steadfastness pushes Jim to change, you have a problem. Not a structural problem, necessarily, but at least a storytelling one. “Why would Jim turn himself in if he never even knew that Frank was willing to sacrifice something important for the greater good?” the audience might say. Even if your Storymind gets the message…even if the audience gets the message…you have broken the storytelling by not giving Jim the info he needs in order to change. You’ve broken the internal logic of the story world.

So just because you CAN keep throughlines separate and still pass on the message doesn’t mean your story won’t appear to be in some way broken in the realm of storytelling.


I love this. It’s a microcosm explanation of how my Trilogy and Book one merge. And I appreciate no one shot me out of the water by my experiment with this.

About the different slants on the gists… [quote=“Greg, post:12, topic:2587”]
I wonder if he means that ‘seeking the treasure’ should be illustrated through run ins with ghosts and pirates and ghost pirates and sword fights, while ‘seeking the treasure’ as an RS Concern should look more like becoming friends or enemies over attempts to find the treasure, or as an IC concern showing how seeking the treasure influences the MC to be more manipulative

@jhull, I’d love to see a breakdown of this idea. Maybe on Narrative First, maybe on Writer’s Room. As you said, education is the best way to explain. I think that’s why your working through the “Writing with Subtext” video series was/has been so helpful. The process revealed this difference, through the QUESTIONS you asked Diane. Your correcting her as she was giving answers. That was very useful.

As for how to show this difference, you could have a switch (like you have now to turn on PSR) but a second-level switch that turns on or off the throughline specific aspect. Maybe at the bottom of each beat/ gist box.

Alternately, you could have a NF page we refer to that shows a bunch of examples–what that gist means as a MC gist or RS gist. Not wordy, or explanatory, just rephrased with the slant.

As it is, (wonderful as it is!), the elements are listed generically, even when we click on
or or

No complaints, I’m patient, love Subtext. Great work. You are a great teacher.


1 Like

Say the Antagonist/MC gets pulled into the story because her sister is kidnapped. But the IC doesn’t know anything went wrong. The IC is promoting this system where that girl’s being taken is a good thing. The IC wants the system to go forward, but to him there IS no inequity.

According to your explanation, this is enough.

However, OS problem is Trusting this system. Ant/MC doesn’t, Pro/IC does. MC issue is security, personally affected by her own safety now.

The inequity from the start of the book is only indirectly the inequity represented by the issues in the OS.

Are we using the word inequity for two different things? The initial driver causes inequity, but the interplay between MC/IC is also a different type of inequity?

1 Like

I don’t know your story so there’ll be some guessing and assuming here. But when you say that to your IC there is no inequity, that’s a view from within the story. If this character is indeed your IC, then there is objectively an inequity to deal with even if this character says there isn’t.

Based on this limited info, here’s how I would look at it. There is an indescribable inequity at the heart of your story. No one perspective/character can fully explain it. But the Storyminds first person perspective (the I perspective, or MC) of the inequity is that her sister has been kidnapped.

The IC, however, is of the mindset that things are good. The ICs mindset here is what is influencing the MC. It could be that the MC is being influenced to look for ways to say this as a good thing, just like the IC. But that’s not necessary. It could be that, by the IC having the mindset that being kidnapped is a good thing, the MC is influenced to adopt a mindset of fearlessness. Or fearfulness. Or to love a system, or to hate one. Or whatever. And eventually either the MC will change, or will remain steadfast until the IC lets go of their mindset that things are good in favor of addressing the Universe.

Are you saying that the kidnapping is only partially related to people being okay with this system? If so, thats okay.

The inequity at the start of the book is an inequity the characters deal with, but it’s not the indescribable inequity at the heart of the story. It’s only part of it. We won’t see the fullest view of that inequity that we can have until you’ve explored all four perspectives and all four acts. So you might have all types of problems that look both directly related and completely unrelated.


Perfect. I’m on the right track, then!!

Again, sweet! Persuades me I’m on the right track, in spite of my mistakes.

I reworked my throughlines, paying especial attention to…

  • the IC’s beat pivoting around how that element brought conflict for the MC. Even when it’s in his head, he’s not arguing with himself as much as creating his world inasmuch as it will pummel the MC’s issue
  • the RS’s beat pivoting around the debate over the perspective
  • the MC’s beat being primarily staying true to their issue
  • the OS’s beat being about keeping the storyline running according to the beat (like the setting that moves forward), irrelative of the MC’s existence

Does this satisfy the throughline needs?

1 Like

I’m not quite sure what you mean by this, but it doesn’t sound quite right. The RS isn’t about any kind of “debate” but about a changing (growing / devolving) relationship. RS beats will vary for the type of relationship – imagine how much different romance vs. buddy cop vs. parent-child vs. pet & owner relationship beats will be. But they’ll all involve things like closeness, togetherness, strength of the bond, working well or poorly together, parting, rejection, abuse, etc.


Hard to say without knowing specifics. And even then, it’s still pretty hard to say. I feel like I’m better with theory than application in most instances. My advice at this point is to ask yourself, “does the material I have for this point reflect the appropriate point of view? And does it accurately illustrate the appropriate story point? If not, how could it be done better?” And go from there.

For more about inequities that arerelatwd, check out this bit from a recent narrative first article that looks at the same events in BTTF from different perspectives.

What That Looks Like From Here

What happens when we dive into the amorphous cloud of “self-confidence” that appears to describe Back to the Future? What does it look like to search out where the Authors placed the conflict in the story?

It can be confusing at first to enter the unknown; preconceptions cloud your very perception of solid ground.

So first, find a perspective.

Establish a point-of-view.

Look from without, and you see Avoidance.

The time traveler avoids having sex with the confused teenage girl. The same traveler avoids, or runs away, from the bullies. The affable parent avoids upsetting his boss. All examples of conflict within the relationships from an objective point-of-view.

Look from within the relationships of Back to the Future and you see Temptation.

A father taking the easy way out when parenting. A friend fighting the Temptation to keep the one he cares about safe. A mother confused by temptations for her son from the future.

These are subjective interpretations of conflict for the relationships in the film—the conflict from within.

Same situation. Same characters. Different context, different conflict. And yet, no.

Same source of conflict—just from a different perspective.

Each perspective points to the same inequity, the inequity that can’t be addressed directly.

1 Like

Thank you. This is a concrete explanation. I get it.

Let’s say that in spite the random-cause growing/living relationship between the MC and IC, they have personal differences over a topic, call it “abortion.”

So if the MC and IC (the RS couple) are going to have it out over that issue, will this occur according to the IC throughline beat order?

And what happens to the tension in the relationship because of the disagreement? Is that still in IC? Or now spilling over into RS?

…(this may be a different topic, but it pivots on the differences we are discussing)…

Or do…

  • all fixed attitude scenes happen in Mind,
  • all activities happen in Physics,
  • all situational-quandries happen in Universe, and
  • all manipulations happen in Manipulation,
    …irrelative of the MC/IC/RS/OS name?


  • If the change-issue is an idea, the IC is Mind,
  • if the change is about a situation, the IC is Universe,
  • if the change-issue is an activity that needs to happen the IC is Physics, and
  • if the change-issue is something that has to be forced(?) the IC is Manipulation?

Nobody has commented on this post,
(Gists According to Throughlines) demonstrating the differences, so I guess I’m still fuzzy.

It depends on how you write it and what each throughline perspective is. An argument over abortion in one story could be RS, while in another it might be MC, IC, OS, or a “multi-appreciation” moment (combining multiple throughlines).

The change / increase of tension in the relationship would definitely be RS.

A good thing to do as a Dramatica-savvy writer would be to look at this from the lens of the RS story points. The “abortion” topic is probably mostly subject matter, but you could hopefully see that the increased tension of the relationship stems from something else like being overly emotional around each other (Feeling), or trying to minimize the importance of their relationship (Reduction).

EDIT: not sure if I was entirely clear that I meant, you would first write the scene or plan it out (even in your head). And once you realize the scene causes a change in the relationship (tension or otherwise), that’s when you try to look at it from the RS lens, as a way to verify and gain clarity on how the RS is working there. Sometimes this will give you ideas on how to improve this part of the scene, say by bringing in some RS element more. (But you only do that if it feels right for the story.)


“The Karate Kid,” via 1984 just popped in my mind. There was a scene where Daniel finds Mr. Miagi drunk.

They originally wanted to cut the scene from the movie (the scene that led Pat Morita to an Oscar, arguably).

I don’t know if TKK has been Storyformed, but doesn’t that scene feel almost purely RS? The moment that they become family? I also wonder what time in the movie the scene is? A midpoint fulcrum?

You always read about how every scene should either advance the plot (OS) or illuminate character (MC, IC).

It is interesting to me that the RS is about labeling the relationship and demonstrating an arc of change, but it it also seems to be a requirement for a shift from one Class to another (drivers). The thing that frees the story to shift in perspective.

Think about Tango and Cash (or any other buddy cop movie). The midpoint fulcrum is often waiting for a shift in relationship to usher in the new Act. When the duo shift from unwilling partners to allies of necessity then the requirement for Driver three is there.

Anyway, that makes me want to have 80s night tonight!