Scene element order

Just wanted to quickly mention something that I think Diane @jassnip is going to love! :slight_smile:

Going through revision of my novel, I have found empirically that:

  • The first scene that deals with a particular PSR item, always seems to deal with the element quad in the usual Z-pattern order. For example, Evidence goes: Ability, Aware, Self-Aware, Desire. This is as Jim suggested.
  • However, if a particular PSR item is repeated in a subsequent scene (this can happen a fair bit in a really long novel), the order always seems to be different. Sometimes it’s a different-shaped Z, sometimes even a hairpin. So, point for Diane. :slight_smile:

Note that I’m only finding this empirically in my own work (looking at the elements that were already present in scenes as I revise). The scenes were NOT written using these elements, as at the time I didn’t even know you could drill down on a PSR item to build the scene. Nor was I ever sure which PSR item I was “on”. Yet the elements are often super clear, and there’s no way you could change the order of them in the scene (I tried a few times thinking the non-Z order was “wrong” but it never worked).

Perhaps, by virtue of the elements shifting around in order, it makes the scene more meaningful and less repetitive? So if one chapter has an Evidence scene where a cop is acting on evidence to identify a body, and then the next chapter has an Evidence scene where some badguys are trying to clean up evidence, the different order helps communicate the separate contexts.

One thing that’s really interesting too, when a scene has a hairpin order of elements, it often turns out that I mistakenly identified it as two separate scenes (using non-Dramatica concepts). As there seems to be a shift in the conflict in the middle of the scene.

Anyway, this is only from analyzing my own work so I don’t know that it’s in any way “right” or a pattern for others to follow. But it would be cool if folks could pay attention to see if they find this in their own or published work!


What do you mean by repeated? Are you creating a double-beat moment of that element? Or like … Protagonist deals with Element, then Antagonist deals with Element?

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It’s sort of like this, but not necessarily Protag vs. Antag. More like, story deals with PSR Variation in one context, then later deals with the same PSR variation in a different context. Could be a different POV character (and possibly a scene that occurs in same timeframe as earlier scene with same PSR item), or just different circumstances later on in the same act.

EDIT: it does seem that the story tends to repeat the whole quad. e.g. OS Act 4 goes: Truth, 2 Evidence scenes happening simultaneously in different locations, 2 Suspicion scenes happening simultaneously, Falsehood. Then Truth again, and I think Evidence/Suspicion/Falsehood, though I’m not sure if that order is respected the second time around as I haven’t analyzed every scene. (Also, of course there are other throughline scenes interspersed with the above.)

Keep in mind this is a 330,000 word book with around 250-300 scenes, so even with substories I think it makes sense that some of the main story PSR items would get repeated.

Huh… yeah just trying to wrap my head around when/why the PSR would repeat all four elements. Are you talking about repeating them just as yourself the Author, or is Dramatica telling you to repeat them for some reason?

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Definitely the former, but more like my subconscious as the Author. I wrote all these scenes without using PSR. I had the right storyform and I was using the signposts and the other story points, but never had any idea which PSR item I was “on” in first draft. (Also at that point I was skeptical the PSR could even give you “scenes”. And I didn’t know you could drill down into the PSR variation to get the element quad for the scene – I thought things would scramble again and you might have Self-Interest using say, Truth’s elements.)

So yeah, by using the rest of the storyform, my subconscious put in the right PSR variations and elements below*, but often repeated them.

* at least well enough to identify them. Sometimes an element might be missing or not quite right, but I can use the PRCO quad as a tool to fix that.

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