Sharing the "Lie" with the Antagonist

I have been studying several other paradigms and trying to find the matching elements in Dramatica. In light of this, I realize I will need to rework my planned trilogy’s storyform. Specifically, I’m trying to hone down the ANTAGONIST for each book, and the “lie” they represent.

While the big story is very clear in my head, the main antagonist is a group/way of thinking, so in the first and second book the MC faces off with the henchmen/proxies (“himself” and "Darth Vader, so to speak), and the final book she faces off with the head (the “Emperor” so to speak).


In particular, I have highlighted the following information about the antagonist and his relationship with the lie/goal of the MC:

The Antagonist makes the story. He wants the same thing the protagonist wants. The “soul” of the city.


The protagonist wants to free the slaves; the antagonist wants to keep them and the power they provide. The protagonist wants to rescue the hostages; the antagonist wants to keep the hostages, or worse, kill ’em. The protagonist wants a chalupa; the antagonist has stolen ALL THE CHALUPAS. The antagonist can oppose the main character directly, seeking to undo her efforts; or the antagonist can oppose her indirectly, coming at the story at an oblique angle (but still clashing with our protagonist character).

the biggest and best test of an antagonist is that I want to a) love to hate them and/or b) hate to love them.

  • Does this character start out either
    • believing basically the same Lie as the protagonist?
    • believing a Truth contrary to the protagonist’s Lie?
  • Is this character painfully similar to the protagonist in some ways?
  • Is this character an example of either
    • someone the protagonist would desperately like to be?
    • someone the protagonist desperately wants to avoid being (or perhaps already is)?
  • Will this character be able to offer convincing thematic arguments with the potential to seduce the protagonist away from the story’s Truth—and, as a result, away from his story goal?

Ask yourself:

  • What character best represents where the protagonist will end up if he takes the wrong path?
  • What character best represents where the protagonist wants to end up externally?
  • What character shares a similar backstory journey with your protagonist?
  • What character represents or shares similarities with your protagonist’s greatest failures to date?

Ask yourself:

  • What antagonist will be present in the Climax’s final confrontation?
  • How can this antagonist be the major opposing force against the protagonist at all of the major structural beats?
  • How can this antagonist be set up as an obstacle (or the inevitable potential for an obstacle) from the very first scene?
  • How will the protagonist “brush” against this antagonist’s power in the Inciting Event?
  • How will this antagonist drag your character into the main conflict at the First Plot Point?

(from KM Weiland website, Story Engineering, etc)

It is clear that the Influence Character in Dramatica is the one who challenges the lie.

In this video: it shows the sidekick as the one whose words challenge the lie, which means Sidekick=influence character.

It also hints at a TRIAD of Sidekick-MC (lie) -Antagonist whose thematic messages hit the MC from two sides, like an upside-down love triangle trying to win the MIND (not heart) of the MC.

Here’s what I seem to understand:

MY GUESS: OVERALL STORY ISSUE is the Truth, MC ISSUE is the lie, problem is the MC’s answer to the lie.

Or is the lie the “critical flaw”?

And where, then, does the Antagonist’s goal (juxtaposed lie) fit?

Here’s what I came up with, assuming Issue=lie category, problem=MC answer.

But here’s what I came up with, starting with her unique ability, then spinning “Critical Flaw” with the lie.

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My understanding of that Lie and Truth stuff is that the Lie would tend to be more related to the MC Problem. And Truth would be related to the MC Solution. There may also be some relation at the Issue level, but I think it would be hard to see exactly what that is. (one might relate more to the Counterpoint, or both might be different views of the Issue, or something else altogether)

If your story is Change, Success, Good, and the Protagonist is the same player as the MC, KM Weiland’s stuff might work for you. From what I recall, her inaccuracies compound the more the story strays from those.

Even given the right kind of story and the MC & Protagonist in the same player, the stuff you quoted is unclear when it says “protagonist.” The MC’s personal issues are NOT the same thing as the Protagonist’s OS difficulties, even when they’re the same person.

Some of the antagonist stuff in that quote section seems to apply more to a Villain (IC-Antagonist). Or to a character other than the Dramatica Antagonist.

In short – it may not be very helpful to combine story theories / writing advice in this way. You can still use more than one theory to inform your write, but I’ve found it’s best to put one aside before using another. Then, once you have story material that you’ve created in front of you, say a scene outline or a first draft, it becomes much easier to see how the different theories apply to YOUR STORY.


Hi @didomachiatto ,
Was my response helpful at all? I didn’t mean to discourage you – it sounds like you’ve done a LOT of great thinking about story structure and trying to find the pieces of different theories that can be useful for you.

All of this thinking is improving your understanding, even if sometimes it goes down the wrong path. I’m just a bit leery of KM Weiland because she steered me totally the wrong way before I found Dramatica – I almost quit writing because of her! (I was trying to do all her “Lie” stuff for what turned out to be a Steadfast MC; this was before some Thor movie made her develop her concept of a “flat arc”, which still isn’t very well conceived or described.)


Thank you for your second note. I was initially shocked at the responses (to a couple questions I posted) that seemed to make fun of my questions. However, giving everyone else the benefit of the doubt, and investigating what you’re saying, I understand what you mean about KM Weiland being just one option within Dramatica’s Story mind. And my issue was that the LIE (or even a flavor of it) couldn’t work as a counterpoint with my MC. As it is, Level Three Storyguide Theme Development section helped me the most to understand what she meant and how it fits into Dramatica’s bigger structure.

It seems to me that in the story I’ve conceived, the MC “seems to be” the story Antagonist bucking a society that thinks its system rights a wrong (the system is fixing inequity). She disagrees with their assessment. This story is definitely not going to mesh with Weiland’s system. I’m just fighting to keep the IC from being a Villain when that’s what is the easiest way to take it (see my other more recent posts). The Theme Development is helping me hone that bit.


Sorry if it came across that way!! I would never, ever make fun of someone’s questions. Writing is tough and we all need all the help and support we can get. To get those, you have to have the confidence that comes with being in a safe place. Otherwise you’ll never put yourself out on a limb to express your doubts and ask for help.


The internet is full of quippy, snarky remarks that would feel at home in a Joss Whedon script. I blame Twitter. It’s best not to take them too personally, though too many ppl do. So kudos for giving the benefit of the doubt!

Are you using Dramatica’s definition of Villain (IC that is antagonist) or is this also a KMW term? If using the Dramatica definition, is there a reason not to let this character be the Villain?


What I mean is IC+Antagonist=Villain. The impact character has something he wants from the MC, but is not the STORY antagonist, just trying to force his way about something. But I think I’m moving forward with the MC as the story antagonist, making the character trying to get society’s goal accomplished the Protagonist.

Now I’ve just got to find the big scene between these two characters, since the one I was planning with the IC is more of the character arc scene that enables her confrontation with the “bad-guy Protagonist.”

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That’s interesting @mlucas. I had a similar reaction at one point though I’ve gotten a lot out of her work. I get the feeling that (unlike a lot of story experts) she’s read Dramatica stuff but isn’t necessarily applying it precisely. When I first read her description of a “flat” character arc, I thought “why would I want to write that? Sounds boring.” Then I realized some Dramatica and realized she was talking about Steadfast characters – who are not necessarily flat at all!

@didomachiatto One of the things that awesome about Dramatica is the insistence on precision with its terminology. But that also can create confusion when using “common” understandings of words (like antagonists, villains, etc.)

I think the key here is to clearly articulate your OS Story Goal. Whoever pursues that Goal is the Dramatica Protagonist, whoever opposes/avoids it is the Antagonist – no matter whether they seem to be a conventional good guy or bad guy.

Anyway here’s another thread that you might find interesting:


Sounds like you made your decision and I think I read in another post that you’ve been studying Dramatica for years, so you already know this, but all I was going to do is mention that a structual/Dramatica Villain isn’t the same as a traditional villain. I mean, a Dramatica Villain influences others in regards to Avoid and Reconsider, right? So that could be the angel on the shoulder trying to convince the MC to avoid a life in prison by reconsidering a life of crime, right? And that’s not typically villainous behavior. If your answer was that you didn’t want the IC to be the “bad guy”, I was just going to make that suggestion, is all.

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Not necessarily. 15 years, but I’m still wrapping my head around all things Dramatica, obviously I’m walking into new territory this season in my writing.

I don’t understand this difference. I’d love some advice here, then. (or answer it here:Non Villain )

If everyone thinks she represents the bad guy, and she’s hiding her true identity from them because were they to find out they would immediately kill her off, then is she the antagonist?

From what I understand, if I spin it that way it will work, assuming I consistently stick to the other parameters of my Story form. (Because theoretically, if I’m wrong but consistent Ill just be doing the correct storyline inside out/mirror image which will work out the same.)

The difference is that Dramatica’s Villain is strictly structural. This character is there to influence others through avoid and reconsider.

A traditional villain, a villain in the sense that the general, outside-of-Dramatica audience has, is just a bad guy. It’s not necessarily part of the structure. It’s probably more in the storytelling.

In Star Wars, most people would say that Darth Vader Is the villain. But since he is neither IC nor Antagonist, he is not a structural Dramatica Villain.

Where is Avoid? Where is Reconsider?

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In this scenario I’m exploring, with her as Antagonist, she is Avoiding capture/being found out and trying to get society to Reconsider their views.

If avoid and reconsider are what this character is bringing to the story structure (within th OS throughline particularly), then this character is an antagonist. If this character influences other characters AND is bringing avoid and reconsider to the structure, then, structurally, this is your Villain. Doesn’t mean she has to actually be a bad guy in the way the story is told though.

So if you are not wanting the IC to be a Villain because you don’t want her to be the villain, don’t worry about it. Just write her as the character she needs to be. I would only worry about it if you have some structural reason to not want this character to be a Villain.


I found a great answer to the original question under another thread, by C. Huntley. He shows how the “sharing the lie with the antagonist” fits into the Story Mind. In case anyone else is trying to find this idea in Dramatica.


This was one of the most helpful things I ever read on Dramatica. Thanks.