Objective versus Subjective characters

From the theory book:

"…characters come in two varieties: Objective and Subjective. Objective Characters represent dramatic functions; Subjective Characters represent points of view. "

Does this mean that Subjective Characters don’t have dramatic functions? And don’t both represent points of view, only different?

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I would say, in the OS (overall aka objective story), all of the OS characters together represent a point of view: an objective perspective on an inequity.

I think that in the quoted sentence the term “dramatic functions” is referring to the character Elements, which are present in the subjective throughlines but not usually separated by player/character.

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This is what is confusing me. Which throughlines are objective, and which subjective?

If the OS throughline is objective and the MC throughline is subjective, what about the RS and IC throughlines, are they subjective or objective? Somewhere between the two?

And in any case, the book doesn’t cover elements in the other throughlines, does it? I just don’t get how they work in throughlines other than the OS.

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I also noticed that the character elements align with the Psychology class. Is there a reason for this? Isn’t Psychology only one dimension of character? Do the elements in the other classes align with some other aspects of the story?

The Dramatica software uses the alignment from your OS Domain. It will change if you have a different OS Domain.

If you define each throughline as a particular thing, its own little story, the elements are used just by having that element come up in relation to that throughline perspective.

Like maybe when the IC struggles with the fact that she trusted her aunt, but her aunt betrayed that Trust.

Or when the MC’s friends all think he’s an idiot for having these unrealistic crushes on unattainable girls. But when he has a chance to get laid, his one boorish friend is suddenly all Supportive of his crush.

I think someone explained it once, as the OS being an objective view of an objective problem, and the others being mixes of that (o of s, s of o, s of s) but I can’t remember which is which. I just think of the others as all subjective in some way. I feel like the They, We, I, You nomenclature helps more anyway.

I don’t find Character Elements all that helpful for writing a story, other than to recognize them when they come up and say “oh, neat”. Honestly, the really important things to focus on are the main storyform points – Domain, Concern, Issue, and Problem/Symptom/Response/Solution, as well as Resolve, Outcome, Judgment, etc. If you get those right – especially in your head – I feel like the rest will follow naturally.

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The Overall Story Throughline is objective.
The Main Character Throughline is subjective.

The Influence Character Throughline is the objective view of the subjective.
The Relationship Story Throughline is the subjective view of the objective.


So motivations, for instance, must always relate to the types Future, Obtaining, Becoming or Subconscious, evaluations to Progress, Doing, Being or Preconscious, etc. depending on the OS domain?


Right. (I’m assuming you mean the element structure under those types on the chart.)

Note how messed-up that would make the standard Archetypes in a story with OS Mind. Every Archetype’s two elements end up as Companion Pairs in the same quad. For that reason, I bet it would be rare to see many archetypal characters in OS Mind stories.

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I think you mean the 2 of the 8 elements for the archetype which fall under a particular Type, right?

Maybe it just means that archetypes in OS Mind stories have different characteristics, behave differently. It comes down to what defines an archetype, I suppose.


What do you think of this. I’ve felt for awhile like this could be nailed down better, and is a big stumbling block for beginners. Here’s my attempt:

The Overall Story Throughline is objective.
*what the unadorned actions and events look like to the audience and MC

The Main Character Throughline is subjective.
*what the individual thoughts, sensations and feelings of the MC are, focused solely on their own life at first and only on things of concern to them, experienced by the audience. Over the course of the story, through growth, the MC concerns merge with the OS concerns.

The Influence Character Throughline is the objective view of the subjective.
*what it’s like to see someone go through actions and events, and see their reactions and observe their thoughts, sensations and feelings and motivations, and feel their impact, observed by audience and MC

The Relationship Story Throughline is the subjective view of the objective.
*what it’s like to experience the group thoughts, feelings and sensations in reaction to the objective events and actions of the story, how the group can have different thoughts about the events, and the impact of the events and actions on the group. (the group is often two, but it doesn’t have to be).


Hamlet is most definitely the Protagonist of his play. Claudius is the Antagonist. So, it happens.

Also, it’s not entirely correct to think that Elements in the lower left are always Motivations, and those in the upper right are always Evaluations. You’ll end up spinning around in circle trying to make this work when writing a story.

The reality is that wherever you find the Problem element of a Throughline - that location of the Quad becomes the Motivation set. That’s where it all starts. Those labels in the Characteristics window are just there to help you learn a definitional difference between the different Elements.

To answer the original question:

Subjective Character do not have dramatic functions. Subjective “Characters” are points-of-view–that’s why they’re subjective. A function is an objective process. My phone functions as a great weather forecasting device. I have no idea what it feels like to be my phone.

The PLAYER holding that Subjective point-of-view also possesses functions that are appreciated from the Overall Story objective point-of-view.

Remember that the Throughlines in a storyform are not the character’s perspectives, but rather the perspectives of the STORYMIND - what you as an Author are setting as the various instances of conflict throughout the story.


Just took another shot at this. This is very useful for me. I am vastly preferring the terms ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ to subjective and objective. I feel them more.

The Overall Story Throughline is outside (‘they”) view of story events, felt by and viewed by audience as if the events were happening to people they were concerned with, or care about, or sympathize or empathize with.

*The Enterprise is headed towards a giant space amoeba, and the entire crew is sick and getting sicker.

The Main Character Throughline is inside experience of events, felt and experienced by audience as if it were happening to them.

*If this is done right, ‘you’ disappear and you are Kirk trying to decide if you have to send Spock or McCoy to their death.

The Influence Character Throughline is the outside view of the emotional experiences happening to another character who has the way of seeing and doing things that the MC must face and contend with to grow. the Contention Character.

*Logic is the superior way to deal with the problem, and superior Vulcan endurance, not human emotion or frailty, therefore I am the logical choice to pilot the shuttle, Captain. And we must not
only survive but capture this medical data for science.

The Relationship Story Throughline is the inside view of the arguments between the MC and IC that the audience experiences as if those arguments were taking place in their own mind.

*Kirk and McCoy and Spock and their arguments about killing a new life form, the meaning of being out here in space, their chances of making it back.


… I am also vastly preferring Contention Character to Impact or Influence or Obstacle. It’s the way of thinking and doing things that the MC has to content with, not the character, but the character carries it, like a virus. It doesn’t mean fight with it, it means he can’t simply ignore it and wish it away: he has to face it head on. If he doesn’t, he’s an internally dishonest character and not very interesting, at least to me.

I always thought of it as a “duking it out about something else than OS” through line. 3am and I’m falling over into bed, but just had to muster up something. Hope it makes sense.

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Good note. A lot of the ‘we’ arguing in this episode goes on between Spock and McCoy, in fact it has some of the most intense values arguing between them in the entire series.

But yes on reflection the main we is Kirk and McCoy: Kirk, arguing the values of exploration, discovery, responsibility, and McCoy has one recommendation: survival–let’s get out of here. So the value of confronting the enormous protoplasm…THING…or the value of human survival, taking care of the lives aboard the ship.

McCoy is often the ‘we’ in these stories, and Spock is often the IC. Spock is Kirk’s friend but it’s never quite ‘we’ until the movies. McCoy is his best friend, because they’re a lot alike, but Spock has the fascination of the dangers, tempting Other.

Star Trek I could go on about. I often use it as an example because I know it by heart and it springs to mind.

I’ve seen them all many times, but it was years ago. I bet this Subjective Story was the intended story by the writer, just like they do in the romance genre … the SS being the main read that purchasers expect and buy. Sci Fi gives such a cool OS out, with attacking galaxies always handy.

KIRK: Do you have any ideas, Spock?
SPOCK: We still have no specifics, but we seem to have entered a zone of energy which is incompatible with our living and mechanical processes. As we draw closer to the source, it grows stronger and we grow weaker.
KIRK: Recommendations.
MCCOY: I have one. I recommend survival. Let’s get out of here.
KIRK: This is the Captain. We’re on a difficult mission, but it’s not the first time. Our orders do not say stay alive or retreat.


KIRK [OC]: Our mission is to investigate.


KIRK [OC]: We’re sick, and we’re getting sicker.


KIRK: We have no guarantees, but we have a good ship and the best crew in Starfleet. So do your jobs. Carry on. Kirk out.

[McCoy’s office]

MCCOY: Sickbay to Captain Kirk.
KIRK [OC]: Kirk here. Go ahead, Bones.
MCCOY: Jim, according to the life indicators, the energy levels


KIRK: Yes, say it, Bones.

[McCoy’s office]

MCCOY: According to the life monitors, we’re dying.


MCCOY [OC]: We’re all dying.

He sure can’t see doubt! (Thinking of the only seeing three thread …haha)

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Ahh you are right!! Brilliant. But investigate, appraisal and, after “we’re all dying” reappraisal.

That’s actually a fantastic example.

Notice all McCoy lines are “we” or “us.”

This makes it seem like the MC/IC/RS are buffeted around by what happens in the OS. It would also mean that the drivers are part of the OS.

By definition, a Subjective Character does not have a dramatic function (as in the Dramatica way of describing dramatic objective functions). The Player holding the Subjective View might also carry an objective dramatic function, but as far as looking at them as Subjective Characters they don’t.

Drivers are directly tied to the Overall Story Throughline. They determine the flow of consideration through the narrative. The other Throughlines fall in place to support the order determined by the Story Driver.