Sequences vs Acts, Scenes and Events

I recently discovered (and am really digging) Dramatica Story Theory after writing a first draft of a novel. I splurged out 100K words (with no plan, and only one idea: two boys running along a quay with someone chasing them) in 3 months and I’m happy with a lot of it but it doesn’t hang together terribly well and the ending is weak, so I knew I needed help. Dramatica theory actually chimed with a lot of what I’d written; as it stands the story starts as one strand, splits into two strands (which interact to drive the plot forward, each with an MC, though the MC in one strand predominates) and then merges just before the denouement. However I’ve realised that within these strands I have OS parts, MC parts IC parts (I have more than one IC (the sidekick playing part of that role), and SS parts, so I’m hopeful that Dramatica will help me to sort it all out, and generally improve the novel. I’ve been getting my head round the theory for the past week, and it is mostly beginning to make sense, but I am confused about sequences; I understand plot, scenes and events, and understand the nature of sequences, but I’m struggling with how they relate to everything else, particularly the practicalities of encoding /writing them. Any help would be really appreciated as I really feel enthusiastic about my book for the first time in months. I really want to get stuck into the rewrite.

I’ve noticed most people here ignore the idea of Sequences as posed in Theory Book, since for many, they don’t really lead to practical work. That part of the book is really trying to get at the idea that Theme shows up throughout the story, and that there are transitions between Signposts.

Here are a couple of other posts that pose similar questions:

However, there is another use of the word Sequence on the board that bears mentioning. In the Dramatica Software Program, once you fill in the questions and found a possible Storyform, you can find a report called the Plot Sequence Report. This report can be useful, as it basically breaks down the “plot-level” Signposts into “theme-level signposts” for each Throughline.

For this reason, I think it’s worth it to have the software and a subscription to Subtext. And, of course, feel free to ask for additional help.


Nailing down the contagonist and his/her independent interests might help. I always like writing the end of a story, first. It might change, somewhat, but I like how it gives me what I want at the end. haha. Then I can make exciting scenes.


The best way to think of the Contagonist is the archetype that throws obstacles in the way of reaching the goal. And bear in mind that all those archetypes are really there to draw out facets of the main character facing a new type of dilemma.

I would also second what @Hunter said in regard to subcribing to Subtext. It’s much easier to approach from a writer’s standpoint and specifically designed to give you an actionable treatment by the end of it.

I remember hearing that the contagonist has his/her own agenda, separate from that of the protagonist’s. The antagonist wants to stop the protagonist, but the contagonist hinders and tempts. So, wouldn’t the hindering actions, and the temptations provided, be done by the contagonist for its own agenda? I know I seen the character in films not working for the antagonist’s interests, but I do wonder sometimes if the own agenda can be the antagonist’s and the contagonist just sputts around with hinder and temptations. Although, It is so much more fun to create a contagonist with separate unrelated and later revealed agendas to either protagonist and antagonist.

From my understanding, the Contagonist has their own motivations separate from the Antagonist. They may even be AGAINST the Antagonist to a degree. Think about Darth Vader. He kills his own men as much as he does the Rebels.

Another Contagonist would be in the yet-un-analyzed Beetlejuice (And bear in mind, I haven’t taken a look at the storyform just yet.) But, I would think that the Maitlands are the Protagonists, Delia Deetz is the Antagonist, and Beetlejuice is the Contagonist.

The OS is probably about getting rid of the humans so they can live out their death in peace. But Delia refuses to leave and takes over their house, tries to get rid of THEM. It’s the reverse of a haunted house. The ghosts want the living out of there.

Beetlejuice has his own agenda, throwing obstacles in the way of the goal to get rid of the ghosts in their house. Hindering them from their goal, and bringing temptation to do what HE wants instead.