OS Outcome- Good or Bad, Success and Failure

I have a quick, possibly obvious, question. Hopefully not too basic for this forum.

I have a story, where all the characters are caught up in an ancient curse whereby someone is claimed by the sea each summer.

Now, if I have perceived it correctly, my OS goal is to claim a life to satisfy the curse-that is the story all the characters are caught up in. And in this story, that life is claimed.

Normally, claiming a life to satisfy an old curse would not be seen as a ‘good’ or ‘successful’ thing, but in terms of dramatic function, and the Dramatica plot dynamics, the Story Outcome is a ‘success’ in this instance, as the goal has been achieved. Have I understood the OS Outcome correctly for this story?

@Daniel you might be interested in this thread:

Is the Story Goal “to claim a life to satisfy the curse” (Success) or “to stop the claiming of a life to satisfy the curse” (Failure). Who do you think the Protagonist is, and can you define their relationship to the story goal? Also, what is the judgement?


Depends on your perspective.


True :grin:

I was thinking in a majority, audience reception that the taking of an innocent life is not seen as a good thing, even if to some of the characters it is absolutely the only thing that must happen.

Thanks for the links. Unfortunately the second one dead ends :frowning: and sounds a good read!

Most of my characters are concerned, either consciously or subconsciously, with satisfying the curse, that’s why I thought the Goal out come would be success.

My MC is neither for or against it at first. He is a teenager on vacation trying to carry on a holiday romance. His family seems caught up in all this and his love interest, a local lass, is trying to stop the curse. He gets roped into helping her as it seems the only way to spend time with her on this vacation. I have him as the Contagonist.

It’s a novelette, and my homage to The Wicker Man - the original, not the Nicholas Cage debacle. I’d love to see a Dramatica analysis of that.


Hmm. On rereading this, it sounds like the Goal isn’t actually “to claim a life” but rather “to stop (or satisfy) the curse”. Claiming a life is maybe the Cost or Requirement or something. Anyway sounds like a cool story!

I found the new URL for that article here: https://narrativefirst.com/blog/the-story-structure-of-the-original-star-wars-trilogy

Excellent! Thank you!

On re-reading my initial input into Dramatica back in 2105 for this story, I discovered I did put about the Goal being to satisfy the curse, or for the curse to run it’s natural course for another year.

My original question was about having the Story Outcome being Success, as the Goal to satisfy the curse is achieved, but that audiences/readers don’t usually consider such an act a ‘Success’. Just so I could get my head around Dramatica terminology and application as opposed to common received interpretations.

The Story Judgement is Bad, by the way. Horribly bad.

Looking back at the Dramatica story form, the prerequisites are The Future.

Thank you. It was the first story I wrote using Dramatica. I used the short story template and used the Treatment with Structure report. The results in both the experience of writing it, and the reception from those who read it, was another big realization that Dramatica is the dog’s bollocks, as it were.

Is it a happy ending, in your opinion? Did it turn out okay?
If so, it will be Good Judgment, which means the Obtaining Goal could go either way (stop the curse, fulfill the curse). The success/failure doesn’t matter as much as the judgment-feel of the end.

Does the reader say, “Oh, Good” or “Oh, Rats”?

When you select the Success/Failure option in Dramatica, other things get assigned. For example, the Signposts. Look at the signposts both ways to find out if your acts fit more in a “spin it fail” way or “spin it succeed” way. The success of the goal isn’t as CRITICAL as the Judgment, because the goal can go positive or negative under the same category. Obtaining can be receiving or stop-from-receiving. Positive or Negative both are called by the same Goal name.

It doesn’t matter if someone dies or not, the goal the protagonist is pursuing, personally, is what he’s after. I want to stop someone from dying this time or I want someone to die this time. That would be the actual literal goal, the Protagonist’s take on the goal, if I’m not mistaken.

If he’s the minority, he may be considered the Antagonist, in which case, the goal OPPOSITE is what he’s after.

If the person who will die is saved from it, and the protagonist was working toward that, it’s Success.
If the person who will die is saved from it, and the antagonist was wanting that, it’s Failure.
If the person who will die is NOT saved from it, and the protagonist is disappointed, it’s Failure
If the person who will die is NOT saved from it, and the antagonist is disappointed, it’s Success.

The audience’s reception shouldn’t have a bearing on the storyform unless you just want to specifically tailor your story’s message to that. Regardless of how the audience feels, human sacrifice will solve the problem or it won’t, and your MC willnhave resolved their angst or not.

All good points so far.

Just wanted to add that, although I don’t know if it has a complete storyform, the Wicker Man is probably a Failure / Bad story.

When it comes to the goal it’s all about how you’re positioning the audience and what you’re trying to say.

Are you trying to say “Sure, it’s heartbreaking, but sometimes you have to do a bad thing for the greater good”?

Or “Everyone suffers the tragic consequences when you perpetuate a curse”?

I remember being a kid and walking out of the movie theater in the 50’s, bawling and crying my eyes and heart out over the killing of the creature in the Black Lagoon. I thought he did not deserve it, that he just was living his life, etc. I hear that The Shape of Water took a different spin, but I haven’t seen it. I was not a big fan of the ending of The Wicker Man original. “How dare they!” outrage towards the writers comes to mind. It is a bad for sure, but he did find Rowan and she was ok. It was the IC that got his goal, which was MC’s life. Rowan was just part of the plot. I wonder which one it is, success or failure.

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I’m going to second this.

As far as I can remember, the cop is there to find a missing person, and the clues lure him into his death. As the protagonist, this makes it a Failure even though most of the people on the island want him to burn.

Michael Clayton is a good example of having a “flip” – where the person we are following is the MC/Antagonist.

Thanks for that @Lakis

I went ahead and fixed it, so even the old URL with the date redirects to the right spot (This now works across the board for all /blog posts)

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Thanks-this all helps me realise I understand Dramatica than I thought I did.

The original post was making sure I got the Dramatica meaning of ‘Success’ in a story outcome was not always going to be the same meaning as to a non-Dramatica lay person’s understanding of ‘success’. Which in turn helps me see more stories more objectively when looking at story structure and hopefully having a better product at the end.

Yes-thanks. That’s helped clarify my original question, as in terminology and meaning to the lay person who has no clue about Dramatica, is different to using Dramatica terms in the context of a story form.

This has all been beneficial to knowing I’m on the right track and maybe understand Dramatica a little more than I thought I did.

Just to add an opposing view, I would say the story is Success/Bad.

Lord Summerisle (IC) is the Protagonist, as he actively pursues the Story Goal of having a willing virgin for sacrifice.

The Antagonist, that directly opposes the story goal, is the UK mainland law enforcement, the Antagonistic force of the the Law against sacrificing virgins.

Sgt. Howie,(MC) I think acts as the Contagonist.

I don’t know if it is complete story form or not. I was thinking how the four through lines come together so well at the end that makes it such a satisfying film, for me anyway.

I only remember the feeling I had when I watched the movie 25 years ago, and it wasn’t bittersweet.

Remember that both the Protagonist and Antagonist are pursuing the ends they want. That’s why it can sometimes feel like the roles are reversed.

No-certainly not bittersweet. So is that a criteria for working out Goal and orientating who is Protagonist/Antagonist, the reception of bittersweet for Success/Failure, and so on regarding the other Outcome/Judgement combinations?

Just a thought-if he is the Protagonist looking for the missing person, who is the Antagonist opposing him looking for the missing person? That’s why I wonder if the Goal is the looking for the missing person, as there is nothing directly opposing that goal. It only appears to the MC that they are.

Sorry if I’m going on a bit here :slight_smile: I’m trying to get a better understanding of things.

Failure/Good stories or Success/Bad stories have a mixed emotional reaction, like bittersweet, because the audience is getting pulled in two directions. It’s a good thing to ask, but it isn’t a definitive way to answer the question.

I haven’t seen the movie recently enough to answer this. But isn’t the whole town conspiring to confound him? The antagonist doesn’t have to be an individual.