Questions about The Social Network storyform: MC Approach

I acknowledge that you think Mark is a Linear problem-solver and that his Resolve is Steadfast. I think both assessments are wrong, but I first wanted to address the biggest error, which is your analysis of Mark as a Do-er.

You continue to give examples of Mark “subtextual implying” something as an example of a Do-er character. This is a wrong assessment of what it means to be a Do-er. Do-ers solve problems by first taking physical action, subtextual implication is the act of a Be-er.

You also suggest Erica as an Influence Character - what is her approach towards solving problems in the beginning that switches, or changes (by Dramatica’s definition) at the end of the story?

Mark’s problem is his low sense of self, and he thinks by trying to get status and power he’ll fix this, because then (in his mind) he’ll be popular and “likeable”. Throughout the movie he is doing this through action (taking steps to make Facebook). A way he’s also trying to get status/power to fix his problem with his actions is trying to (to use a cliché) “get the girl” (Erica). This is all external action. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel this is doing.
Erica in the initial beginning is going along with Mark’s desires until she sees the wholes in it, and then starts to change her approach.
Do you agree with both of these?

And if you can, could you please tell me why you still feel Mark is “holistic”?

I will get to that eventually, for sure, but first:

When we look for evidence to support the way we see a Storyform in Dramatica, it’s absolutely essential that we have concrete examples from which to make our assessment: otherwise, we’re simply arguing from a standpoint of subjective bias (opinion). Just saying “she changes her approach” is not enough to make a good argument for altering the Storyform that is already there.

For context, we have changed the occasional Storyform, but only when there is sufficient evidence (several Illustrations, or examples) to do so.

What do you mean by “going along with Mark’s desires?” What specifically does she do to go along with his desires, and how does that influence or impact him to change?

Once she sees the “holes” in his desires, what does she do differently? You have to be very specific, because a Changed Influence Character will shift from one Motivation (their Problem, or driving Element) to a new Motivation (their Solution, or resolving Element).

I will find you your evidence. Please give me a moment to get quotes from the movie…

For me, seeing the distinction between Be-er and Do-er was one of the most difficult things to get (and it’s still a blindspot). It’s easier, though, when you look at the throughlines. Assuming you agree that the OS of Social Network is in Psychology, then the MC must, according to Dramatica theory, be in either Universe or Mind.

So if you think Mark is a Do-er, his throughline is in Universe. This suggests that the source of his problems (at least at the top level) is an external, “stuck” situation. Can you explain how this would apply to Mark? His problems seem to be a lot more internal to me – having to do with his bad attitude.

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I feel like the way you are using “internal” and “external” here come from other screenwriting theories. (That is, I don’t think you mean something parallel to be-ing and do-ing.) Dramatica is a hard road to get down if you carry too many concepts into it from other theories. Eventually, you will see the overlap, but in the beginning it can really hold you back.

So much of the shading you want is covered by the different layers in the throughlines.

The arena of Dramatica is whatever inequity is creating all of the problems. Different episodes are focused on different inequities, and that is why Scully acts differently. Obviously, TV has a different arena—characters—which is why there is abundant consistency from episode to episode.

One of the great powers of Dramatica is that it forces specificity. Vague handwaving is what has allowed other theories to stick around, but in reality it’s a weakness. It’s enticing and fun, and leads to enjoyable arguments after movie-watching with your friends but isn’t likely to help a writer focus their message.

Your passion here is terrific. Most of the people on this forum have had similar fits where they fought for understanding. But so have many people who have left, and generally it’s because they fought to make us understand.


Thank you posting the other posts, I just would like to address Jhull first.

The film opens with Mark and Erica on a consensual date:

Mark: “Did you know there are more people with genius IQs living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States?”

He goes on to says: “How do you distinguish yourself in a population of people who all got 1600 on their SATs?”

Erica at this moment in the date is being polite, supportive, and engaging: “I didn’t know they take SATs in China?”

Mark: “They don’t. I wasn’t talking about China anymore, I was talking about me.” (These are the first lines where Mark expresses his desire for status/power/liveability.)

Erica’s impressed: You got a 1600? Does that mean you actually got nothing wrong?”

Mark ignores Erica, and rambles some more ways that he could achieve his desires: “I could row crew or invent a $25 PC.

Erica smiles and makes another suggestion: “Or you could get into a final club.” Mark smiles. They banter some more, but Erica makes a joke that bruised his fragile ego: On the other hand, I do like guys who row crew.

Mark’s hurt: “Well, I can’t do that.” Erica smiles saying she was kidding, because she’s genuinely there just to have a date, but she makes the mistake of joking with him a little further asking him playfully if he’s ever tried to row crew, accidentally bruises his ego more. He gets perturbed and asks her if she’s “delusional”.

Erica acknowledges his hurt, and confesses she never has actually has seen “guys who row crew”, and stresses her silliness by saying: “I guess I just meant I like the idea of it. You know, the way a girl likes cowboys.” Mark squints if off, and reluctantly agrees. Erica tries to resume the date suggesting they should get some food, but Mark ignores her and goes back to talking about final clubs.

Mark: “The Phoenix is the most diverse. The Fly Club… Roosevelt punched the Porc.”

Erica continuing support, however starts to feel the weight of his obsession, but still politely converses asking details about the clubs, and says: “Which one is the easiest to get into?”

(This is the moment where Mark’s ego kicks in full blast, and he thinks he has been completely insulted, offended, and provoked, and is on the defence now.)

Mark: “Why would you ask me that?”

Erica: “I was just asking.”

Mark: “I think you asked me that because you think the final club that’s easiest to get into is the one where I’ll have the best chance.”

Erica still supportive, tries to laugh it off, saying she’s not speaking in code, she was not trying to be insulting.

Erica: “You’re obsessed with finals clubs.” Then jokes he has “finals clubs OCD”. He then tries to cut her with the first of many insults by correcting her grammar: “Final clubs. Not “finals clubs”. Mark’s adds: “There’s a difference from being obsessed to be motivated… “I’m just saying I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the clubs.”

Erica: “Why?”

Mark: Because they’re exclusive and fun, and lead to a better life.

Erica suggests: “Well, why don’t you just concentrate on being the best you you can be?”

Mark still defensive, insults her again: “I wanna try to be straightforward with you, and tell you I think you might want to be a little more supportive. If I get in, I will be taking you to the events and the gatherings, and you’ll be meeting a lot of people you wouldn’t normally get to meet.” (Now he’s continually insulting her to try and make himself feel better, and feel you may argue “he’s trying to balance himself”, but his approach isn’t to balance himself and the situation, he’s continuously throughout the conversation, after being triggered, tries to put her in a “one down position”, in the hopes of making himself feel better, yes, but not to balance, he has a desire to make her feel “lower”, and himself “superior”.)

This is where Erica’s empathy, and patience start to change.

Erica: “You would do that for me?”

Mark shrugs, saying he’ll do this because they are dating. Erica then tells him they’re not dating anymore.

Mark: “What do you mean? …”Is this a joke?”

Erica: “No, it’s not.”

(Erica’s no longer wishes to be supportive and helpful to him in achieving his desires, because she senses he has much bigger issues he needs to address (his ego))

Erica: “You’re gonna introduce me to people I wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet?” What the fu… What is that suppose to mean? (Erica knows what this means, she just wants to see if he knows what he’s doing.)

Mark then insults her further, in a arrogant manner that suggests a lack of self-awareness.

Mark: “Erica, the reason we’re able to sit here and drink right now is because you use to sleep with the door guy.”

She’s now completely upset, saying the door guy’s name is “Bobby… and I have not slept with the door guy.” She then tries leaving.

Mark frantically coughs up an apology, trying to make her stay, she says she now needs to leave to “study” (trying to make a polite exit). Mark retorts that she doesn’t have to study, she insists she does so she can leave, he says she doesn’t again, she then asks why he keeps saying she doesn’t, and he insults her one last time:

Mark: “Because you go to BU.”

Erica: I’m sorry you are not sufficiently impressed with my education.

Mark: “And I’m sorry I don’t have a rowboat, so we’re even.”

Erica: “I think we should just be friends.”

Mark: “I don’t want friends.”

Erica: I was just being polite. I have no intention of being friends with you.”

(Now I sense what you’re gonna say, “See, at the beginning he didn’t want to be friends, and at the end he’s changed”, but I propose this line of dialogue has subtext. Mark is being defensive, and to quote Robert McKee from his book “Story”, -“Self-explanatory dialogue convinces no one.” This is why every writer should “show, not tell”, because actions speak louder than words, as I know you already know. Mark tells us he doesn’t want “friends”, but all his actions in this scene, and before this scene even started, show otherwise. Now you may still think he’s a be-er, and I agree there is a little of this, but overall I still feel/think he is a do-er. Mark’s doing external actions to achieve his desires thoughtout the film from start to finish.)

Mark tries to get back to the date like normal, making an excuse hoping to brush everything off, but Erica has had enough and gets straightforward with him now: “Okay, you are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you’re gonna go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd. And I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole. (She’s trying to put the focus on his need, because he needs to do this in order to get everything he wants. And at the end of the film, he does get everything, but “like-ability”.

Maybe I didn’t clarify enough that his desire for like-ability in his mind is attached to being popular/friends/love, but because he’s a narcissist he views these as power/status, and all the lines are blurred.

Please let me know if I answered your questions.

Lakis, I think in the fourth part of my response I answer your question, with Mark be “stuck”, because be-er and do-er for him are blunt. He thinks he can fix an internal problem externally.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Yes MWollaeger, I’m melting potting a bunch of ideas. Maybe that’s my problem, and I’ll take your advice to try and focus more on the thought lines.

X-files probably wasn’t the best example, because it is tv, it’s aloud to change from episode to episode. I’m just thinking that in stories, a character may act no way around one supporting character, but different way around another. Hypothetical: let’s say you have a woman/holistic thinker who’s a little on the linear side, and she has a friend who is a woman/holistic thinker, but far on the right, and when they hang out in your story the women character who is a holistic/with linear leanings maybe is a little more logical/solution focused; but then she goes to work and is around a whole bunch of far left linear minded people (let’s just say her work environment is full of these people), and as a result her holistic side when she’s around these linear individuals is so much more apparent. My concern would be, if someone analysis that story and only focuses on her cherry-picked linear thinkings in the story she would just be put in the Dramatica linear box, and her holistic characteristics would be ignored, maybe even if there much more domaint. I just feel because there’s these boxes, the nuances wouldn’t be acknowledged. I feel like a movie example would be Amy Adam’s character in the movie “Arrival”. They have her down as “linear”, but with that film I disagree with that categorization. I think it’s essential to point of that she’s holistic/with linear-ish leanings that’s why she was able to make the connection with the “holistic” aliens, but would it even appropriate to put her as linear? Like, she’s not “evolved alien style holistic” like with fully formed psychic powers, but I guess that would be another post.

And as far as your thought on Erica, I hope my recent above post answer that for you a little as to what I thinking.

Thank you for the support. Am I having a fit? Lol

I didn’t actually have any questions about Erica. I was just pointing out that you are talking about her in vague terms that don’t work well with Dramatica.

This is what I want you to see in the scene you wrote out: Mark has a goal and the way he’s going to achieve it is by changing himself. His ideas include becoming a rower, becoming an inventor, becoming a member of a finals club. He reacts to Erica’s joke by getting insulted. That’s a be-er and I have no idea what do-ing you see.

Erica on the other hand, breaks up with him and leaves. That is do-ing.

Want/Need thinking is not Dramatica thinking.

Mental sex is a preference anyway. The toggle is between how they prefer to think, not how they always think.
At any rate, your hypothetical would carry more weight if you could pull it out of a successful story. You could easily write something that had a character switch between Doing and Being and whatnot, but the question is: would people like it? Would they be confused by it?

You haven’t shown a clear grasp of delineated the MC from the Protagonist, so I’d focus on that and dig into “Arrival” to see how they’re different.

Well, you certainly aren’t saying “These things confuse me, can anybody help me understand?”


Lol! This post is hilarious! You’re funny.
Sorry, I will try to be more verbal when saying “May you help me with this?” Lol

Here I’ll try it: Why can you not insert wants and needs in the way that I am doing? Your characters need motivates, yes? Lol Help me understand?

@Buttercup please avoid posting entire transcripts of screenplays here (this would be why I used to have the 2 post limit btw…for anyone playing along). You should be able to get your point across in a couple of short paragraphs, and you should allow time for others to respond.

We all have access to the source material (whether by searching for the screenplay or watching the film) - so you can make things easier by just explaining how you see, or interpret, the narrative in question.


I was trying to be specific as possible! You wanted evidence and details. I thought if I was to general you might demand more. Lol

I recently read that McKee said that self-explanatory dialogue convinces no one.

Because this is a Dramatica forum and those things are meaningless inside the scope of the theory.

A character is motivated by something and because of blindspots, deals with symptoms of that motivation, not the problem/motivation directly. This is occasionally approximated by want/need, but why use something clunky when you’ve got something specific.


Lol. You’re funny. Well if I could put it actions… oh wait, I did, as much as I can over messaging. Lol

Hi @Buttercup,

I’m jassnip/Diane. I see you’ve been having a grand old time of it with my boys. They mean well, but sometimes they don’t know how to explain why something is what it is. I’ve been following along but I don’t want you to feel ganged up on and thought I might be able to shed some light of a different brightness that might shift the highlights and shadows so a different picture might be visible to you, like that one that is a young lady looking away from you if you focus on one set of lines and an old woman’s profile if you focus on another set of lines.

So here it goes, Shift of focus:
One of the definitions of be-er is that they problem solve by trying to change themselves. The entire scene you posted above is evidence of his be-ing-ness. He from start to finish is trying to self-sooth. He isn’t “doing” anything about his problem of the date not going well, he’s trying to make himself feel better, to change how he is feeling. He’s still trying to self-sooth when he goes back to the dorm and starts writing the base code. He does being things all throughout the movie. He doesn’t call the boys back that had the idea for the software, he avoids confrontation with his best friend when he cheats him, time after time after time he is all about what feels good to him. That’s the whole narcissist aspect of the MC throughline

Does that help with the Be-er/Do-er question?

As to the steadfast/change aspect, I’m gonna have to go back and watch the movie again. Despite it being Aaron Sorkin, that one didn’t stay with me very long. I went and played with the storyform and having him as a change character makes other story points “feel” more right than having him be steadfast, but I can see why you think it might be so.

To my knowledge Aaron Sorkin doesn’t use Dramatica, so it is possible that he intended that character to appear stuck in the same mental place, hence the small mirroring of the beginning and the end. One thing I’ve heard Melanie says is that not all structures are perfect and better a good story than a perfect structure. They only way to know for sure would be to ask Aaron what he intended. shrug.


I think @jhull might have something. Mark tells Erica very explicitly in that opening scene that he doesn’t want to be friends, but by the very end, after he’s driven off everyone else, or they’ve bailed on him because they were always fair-weather, his change is too little too late and we see how pathetic he really is, because now that he’s alone, he’d take being “just friends”, which is what gives the whole “bad” feeling. If he were really steadfast, he’d never ask, he’d still be stuck in the “I’m the smartest guy in the room and they are the ones privileged to know me” mentality. Think about it. if he leaned into his narcissism even more would you feel bad for him? I don’t think so. You’d just be like whatever dude. You can’t even see it. But because there’s that change at the end that moment of human, lonely weakness of asking someone you’re pretty sure dislikes you to be your friend. That’s the gut punch of a bleak ending.

Okay, y’all carry on.


Okay Jassnip, thank you. Hunter was helpful and messaged me earlier, and basically just told me, “these are Dramatica’s definitions on the words. Like they’re in stone.
I’ve been reading a lot of story structure books to help myself, and connecting the ideas from everything I’ve learned up to now. Hunter suggested to me that the “Dramatica team” advises against this, that I or anyone should try to view Dramatica solely on it’s own terms. I just like the idea of trying to connect dots from everything to make a bigger picture. Dramatica doesn’t play nice with others, or like they’re a vegan, so it’s hard to brunch with others. :frowning: I do see what you are saying, but before I thought I could play connect the dots.

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