Plot Sequence Differences Dramatica vs Subtext

So I know this sort of defeated the purpose of using the Premise Builder, but I wanted to utilize the new features with my WIP, so I made an identical storyform (at least as far as I could see!) that I had previously uploaded from Dramatica. However, the plot sequence didn’t come out the same as it did in Dramatica Pro. For example, in the OS, Conceiving was looked at through Worth, Confidence, Worry, and Value in the beginning - now, it is viewed through Fate, Prediction, Interdiction, and Destiny…something that was previously in the IC Throughline second signpost. Can anyone shed some light on this difference? The storyform is the same as it was…does it have to do with the genre in premise builder? (For the record, I am not at all opposed to these changes, I am just curious as to why the underlying structure on subtext is different!)

Yes, Subtext does come up with a different order for some things when you use the Premise Builder. Those changes were a result of Jim’s deep dive into the way Dramatica works.

Oops! I even read that article, but completely forgot. That makes total sense.

In order to not make this thread a waste though, I’ll mention something related to this. I’ve noticed the elements are still in a z-pattern on the atomic level for Holistic stories. I didn’t check all of them, but the ones I did were all in a z-pattern to my recollection. I know that on that level it hardly matters what order any one element goes in, and I’m not bothered by it since you can obviously write the scene however you want, but I wonder if Subtext hasn’t gotten to that level yet, or if it was intentional?

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Completely intentional.

And it has everything to do with the mind’s appreciation of space and time.

A Linear Mindset considers time last—which is why every quad in that kind of Storyform reads 1234 (Growth, Expansion, Transformation, Transcendence).

A Holistic Mindset considers space last—which is why every quad in that kind of Storyform reads KADT (Situation, Activity, Mentality, Stance).


jhull, in your article “The Development of a Comprehensive Narrative Framework”, you state:

“My work in January re-writing the paths for Holistic stories brought the storyforms closer to what I sensed in my gut.”
But according to the manual, Dramatica is based on cold, hard science including years of research, which originally was the whole point of the project. Anyways, the way it sounded, I thought it was all cut and dried.

Three questions:

  1. So you claim your “gut” is better than scientific research. Can you produce some scientific proof to go along with that?

  2. One headline says “Coming full circle”. Well, actually, that would mean you gave the original authors some feedback about your “gut”, and then they agreed and said “Gee, jhull, you’re right! We’ll have to rewrite our original Dramatica theory now!” Did they ever do that?

You state that Dramatica and subtext are incompatible to each other. In science, one of two theories about the same subject has to be wrong, or at least a bit wrong-er than the other.

  1. Since your software is obviously superior to Dramatica, when will we get an updated version of Dramatica? I mean, with it being wrong and all?
    Otherwise I think, a refund would be in order, and some substantial compensation for my wasted time on the original model.


It’s worth pointing out that there is almost no difference between Subtext and original Dramatica in terms of storyform. The ONLY changes are a small adjustment to the signpost order (usually just a couple signposts in 1-2 throughlines), and the Plot Sequence Report which was kind of buried in the Dramatica software anyway, with added caveats that it can be quite subjective.

Then Subtext adds another level to drill down or “Atomize” to the scene level beats, which was part of the Dramatica theory but not included in the software as it can be quite overwhelming. (Speaking from experience, though, it is FANTASTIC to have this feature during revision when you are unsure about something in a particular scene.)

The original Dramatica still holds all of its value, and you can still use everything in it including signposts and PSR to write your stories. Those of us who have taken stories written with Dramatica and looked at the new Subtext beats generally find that nothing was “wrong” in the story, we now just have a better way of looking at some of the beats.

My honest opinion is that Subtext “adds on” to Dramatica, providing additional value without detracting from or invalidating the Dramatica software in any way.

I believe the key to writing a complete story with Dramatica is to focus on the core storyform – the things that are motivating the characters and causing conflict in the story. This is true whether you use Dramatica software, Subtext or both.

EDIT: sorry this ended up so long. I don’t mean to reply for @jhull but just to speak from my own experience using both apps.


No worries, and I really APPRECIATE the feedback and clarity.

Does the Dramatica Theory make falsifiable predictions with consistent accuracy? What exactly are those predictions, and how are they falsifiable?
Is it supported by many independent strands of evidence, rather than a single foundation?
Is it consistent with preexisting experimental results and at least as accurate in its predictions as preexisting theories?
Can it be subjected to minor adaptations to account for new data that do not fit it perfectly, as they are discovered, thus increasing its predictive capability over time?

Also, just as an FYI: Science does not stop. Did dinosaurs have feathers? How does the human brain work? Why do we dream? What are the forces of the universe and how strong are they comparatively? Ask these questions every ten years over the last 100 years… what answers will you get?


I don’t think this is what he’s saying. All progress is made through addressing the nagging questions that remain after a theory is developed.

This is patently absurd. Anybody who has studied Dramatica will know how much of an advance it is over other theories of story. To have any kind of negative reaction to more improvement is to spite your face to save your nose.

Or, to quote deeper thinkers on this kind of thing: “Since all models are wrong the scientist must be alert to what is importantly wrong. It is inappropriate to be concerned about mice when there are tigers abroad.”

If you could get funding, several PhDs are waiting to be made here.

Okay, I get what you’re saying here…but when I look at my storyform (which is Holistic) and break it down to the atomic level, the elements there are looked at in a linear pattern. I do see that KADT are highlighted, but it actually also includes 1234, and GETT (which I find helpful!) even though it is a holistic story.
I’m confused though, because my atomic beats in my holistic story still look at “time” last, as they utilize the z-pattern. If we go back to Mass, Energy, Space, and Time (KTAD), each one is still going to end on “Time.” So I was thinking I should rearrange the last two even at the atomic level to stay true to the holistic form.

However, I’m glad that I waited to respond because I think your newest post about writing scenes with subtext has clarified this for me with the note that the “current model relies on a Linear-based approach to Holistic thought. To switch the elements “on the fly” would diminish its effectiveness.” (paraphrased) So, am I interpreting correctly that basically switching the last two elements on an atomic level for a scene would actually be “less effective” as far as the storyform goes? Since Subtext, despite making lots of strides towards being more accomodating toward Holistic stories/mindsets, is still Linear-based, switching these two last elements won’t really be “more accurate to a Holistic story” since the entire storyform is still based on an approximation of Holism from a Linear POV.

As in, sure, go ahead and do that, but it’s not necessarily going to make any kind of major difference, and may actually muddle things further? Also, Linear-biased approaches to Holistic stories also offers a wider range of audience reach, which I like the idea of since I’ve always felt a little locked in with the Holistic stories only reaching “majority holistic-minded” people, for lack of a better term. Am I understanding this correctly?

Also, I am fully aware that this is literally such a minute detail - just the last two atomic beats of a scene. More than anything, I’m just curious. (Sorry this turned out so long…)

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Overall, I would say you’ve 100% have it figured it out :slight_smile:

Every item in a Storyform will have KTAD, PRCP, and 1234 attached to it.

As you figured out, DON’T rearrange the last two. That was something I was playing around with earlier this year that works fine within the context of a single quad, but on the broader scale of the Storyform doesn’t make sense.

Writing a Scene with Subtext was written to hopefully clear this up for everyone.

And everything you wrote in the last three paragraphs was spot-on and correct!


I understand your frustration. But I wanted to point out that with science and ART blending, we have a structure upon which craft and creativity is added.

While science needs people to “think outside the box” in order to make new discoveries, a craft-oriented science like writing has an element of gut inherent in it.

Ultimately, rigid THIS or rigid THAT isn’t going to make the best story. For example, when a signpost is BEING or BECOMING, you can have the same event happen–it’s just the focus of the conflict takes a different flavor. This is what we’ve been investigating in the Subtext classes.

Event: Jane wants to buy an expensive dress, her husband Frank tells her to not spend the money
Being: the conflict pivots on pretending or temporary essence: Jane: “Everyone hates my clothes. I need this new dress. It makes me look skinny and it’s a name brand.” Frank: “Why do you have to act? If they’re real friends, they’ll like you in whatever you wear. Besides, we can’t afford it. We need to budget for the house payment.”

Becoming: the conflict pivots on change of person/character: Jane: “I need that dress. Otherwise, I’m stuck in this mediocre house with this mediocre life.” Frank: “It doesn’t matter how you dress, or who you dress for. Don’t try to become what you’re not. Just be content with people like us. Our friends are great.”

Lousy on-the-cuff example, but my point is the signposts reflect the heart of the conflict more than the events.

Essentially that scene could be great either way, right? Neither is mandatory.


Wandering through this topic’s posts, and your words caught me! Hey, in the arts there is never a waste of time, just brain food and exercise. I remember that head bashing pain of despair. As time passes, gratitude for the learning replaces it. We just need to remind each other, sometimes.