Rules for overlapping/ordering Beats from different Throughlines

I am not 100% clear on what is allowed on the storyweaving side, so i’m hoping someone who writes with Dramatica can help me clarify the following. Because it is a little confusing, I am capitalising the Dramatica terms as the words can mean different things when discussing movies etc.

If I understand it correctly, these are some rules in that area:

  1. The four Scenes within each Act for each Throughline, must run through their Beats in order before the next Scene from the same Throughline can start. For example, you can’t show two Beats of an OS Scene (e.g. PR 1), then two Beats of the subsequent OS Scene (PR 2) before returning to finish off the final two Beats of the first Scene (CO 1) then the final two Beats of the subsequent Scene (CO 2).
  2. In one scene (per movie definition, i.e. a stretch of continuous action in one location), you can have Beats from one Throughline divided up by Beats from other Throughlines, as long as the Beats within each Scene of the same Throughline remain in order.
  3. If each Beat is a scene (like many in the Prestige breakdown, where often individual Beats of the Quad are in different locations with different combinations of players), the above still applies, so you could, for example, show the Potential and Resistance of an OS Scene in one location, then show the Potential and Resistance of an MC Scene in a completely different location, then the Current and Outcome of the OS Scene, then the Current and Outcome of the MC Scene (or any other combination as long as the Beat order with a Scene remains).
  4. The same piece of dialogue/conversation/action on screen can represent two Beats from two different Throughlines, thus covering them simultaneously. Like Luke and Obi-Wan’s “conversation” during the Death Star battle being combinations of RS, IC and MC at the same time.

this is all from the perspective of editing/cutting a movie i guess. So once you have written full Scenes in Dramatica, what you are allowed to do in terms of dividing them and reordering to improve the experience

also to clarify, because I mentioned the Prestige above, i’m not talking about reordering temporally from the viewer perspective, all this is assuming things are happening in linear order or switching between things happening in parallel

Sorry, I know this is confusing to read, but hopefully someone gets what I mean, and/or can explain to me what is permitted/non-permitted in a more clear way :slight_smile:

For 1, 2, and 3, as long as the audience can decipher what order the story takes place in–that is, they can map out the events on a timeline such that the order maintains the meaning of the story–then you can show the story in whatever order you want.

Just as the way the story itself unfolds within the world of the story has meaning, so, too, i imagine, does the way you present the story. For instance, if the opening scene is of a murder and we can clearly see the murderer’s actual face, we immediately know who the killer is. Kind of hard to give the audience a murder mystery if they see who the killer is right off the bat. But it might be a great way to start a movie that allows the audience to explore why the killer committed the murder.

My advice, then, is to show story in an order that meaningfully furthers the narrative experience for the audience. If you’re making a murder mystery, find the order that leaves the most mystery for audience. If making a love story, find an order that conveys that to the audience.

There are two ways I tend to look at this. You can view a story as being comprised of individual parts just as a body is made of different parts (a head, a heart, a liver, etc). In this view, different scenes will be assigned their own function.

OS Sign Post 3 will only provide the audience an overall perspective on the third sign post. But, if needed, it can be tailored to also provide a personal perspective on the third sign post, meaning it will function as both OS SP 3 and MC SP 3.

The other way to look at it is that a story is a single unit comprised of a narrative DNA. Just as you can pull a strand of DNA from my hair and have the blueprint for my whole body, so, too, could you pull a strand of narrative DNA from the OS SP 3 and have the blueprint for the whole story. In this view, each part of the story is discernible as a specific and necessary part of the story, but also “contains” the blueprints for the whole story.

OS SP 3 is the third sign post from an overall perspective. But if you view the scene through a lens of personal experience, you will also see that MC SP 3 appreciations at work. Or if you view the scene through a relationship lens, you will see the RS appreciations at work. Each scene is an individual part of the story just as a leg or an arm are individual parts of a body. But just as each part of the body carries the blueprints for the whole body, so does each part of the story carry the blueprints for the whole message. Whether you see a scene as a single part of the story or a carrier for the whole story, then, is just in how you look at it.

Thanks for the detailed response Greg.

I think we might not be on the same page. I’m not talking about hiding information from the audience or cutting the film out of the order in which things linearly happen in the world of the film (like the Prestige).

In what i’m asking, the story i’m writing is linear in terms of time (everything showed in the order it happens).

Maybe the following is a better analogy: If someone was filming a movie where the script was written in Dramatica, they would generally film each Scene (from the Dramatica term) as a complete unit.

Once all scenes are complete, it then goes to the editor, who then doesn’t just show each Scene one-by-one after the other. So, we could be following an MC Scene and an OS Scene, but we move back and forth between each as they progress to maybe compare different situations, add tension etc. As far as I know, this is fine, as long as Scenes from the same Throughline complete linearly in the timeline of the story before moving onto the next.

As for the 4th point, i just mean, can things from different Throughlines be happening “on-screen” at the same time?

Yes, it’s fine

Yes. You can write scenes to cover multiple areas. I’m not sure how often this happens or how well they come across. Probably depends on the writer and the audience. But it can be done.

Thanks Greg!

more characters to meet the limit