Should a signpost be a dilemma or is being a problem enough?

Nah, just go ahead and go for it, have fun and make those signposts feel real. Be careful not to limit yourself – you should feel free to let loose here and use whatever your imagination comes up with. Don’t worry about bleeding into OS or RS, that happens to me all the time and it just makes it easier to weave the throughlines together later! Obviously don’t try to bring in other throughlines, keep it focused on the MC’s personal issue(s) as much you can, but in a loose sort of guiding way, rather than feeling handcuffed. (Oh, and it’s totally cool to have other characters “in” the MC throughline. There are a lot of stories where certain friends or family members are used for the MC throughline perspective. They can be OS characters too, or just part of MC.)

At this stage it’s okay to make mistakes, you can go back and fix things easily. Once you get to Signpost 4 you may review the whole thing and realize the arc (another word for PRCO) will be stronger if you make changes to earlier ones.

Greg’s right that the process needs to be the problem, but FWIW I definitely felt like you captured that. (MC has an idea, is trying to visualize how to implement it, and it’s that process of visualization that’s specifically causing problems because he’s visualizing two mutually exclusive methods. I didn’t think you were going for a choice between them, but more like the MC is feeling like he needs both to be happy.)

This is going to sound like crazy advice (and maybe it only works for me)… But personally I think Dramatica works WAY better when you’re more accepting/inclusive in terms of what “fits” or “counts” for a particular element. I’m not sure if anyone will agree with this. But I feel like, if you’re working from a storyform, and you have a good sense of your narrative & 4 throughlines, and an illustration inspires you and feels right, it probably is. And if something doesn’t work, I feel like your mind will self-correct and let you know (usually via your gut).

Plus, if it turns out you had the wrong storyform to begin with and you’re actually crafting a different argument, then the looser you allowed yourself to be with the stuff you wrote, the more likely you won’t need to change it!


This is a great reminder @mlucas. I agree 100% – it’s really easy to psych yourself out.

I almost think Dramatica requires two different mindsets – a “rigorous” approach for analysis (so that you can learn/develop an intuition for the story points) and a more free approach when you’re writing.


I’m replying to something in a deleted post, here, but i don’t think you should think of Signpost 4 as a solution, or as something that will solve the problem of the other three Signposts. Think of it as another problem/source of conflict and just let the Solution (or MC Problem in case of a Steadfast MC) be the solution to all levels.

There are articles out there that go into greater depth, but as I understand it, when the mind has a problem, it starts as an irritation at the Element level. Whichever area is feeling the irritation of the problem will get flipped or rotated to another position. So if Pursuit is where the initial irritation is felt, then it might be flipped to Avoid. From there, if the irritation is still felt the mind might move the whole quad out of the way by flipping Self Interest with Morality. And from there it might rotate Obtaining to Understanding or Learning. And then eventually flip Physics with Psychology. (All of the flips and rotates are determined by various dynamic storyform choices).

At this point, when Physics is flipped with Psych, the mind can’t move up any more levels (though it could work it’s way back down through Psychology. I have a guess as to what working back down represents, and I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s for another time). So from here the problem either persists, which I guess would mean Failure, or the switch from Problem to Solution gets rid of the irritation of the problem and the mind unwinds so that Psych flips back to Physics, the Concern rotates back to Obtaining, Morality goes back to Self Interest, and Avoid goes back to Pursuit and the problem is gone and the mind is at rest and once again looks like the DTSE.


I’m going by the MC throughline video on Subtext-- the final Signpost was the thing that would lead the MC to the Solution.

Edit: This is the best I can do right now for this:

S1: Wanting to be useful and belong, MC is so preoccupied with thinking of potential mistakes he might make whenever someone needs help that he doesn’t get things done and lets people down.

S2: When MC’s only friend persuades him to join his musical act, MC’s performance anxiety causes his mind to race with contingency plans that he forgets the song’s words and freezes.

S3: To avoid potentially ruining anything else, he becomes a worse person by refusing to help anyone (maybe that’s not Becoming enough since I can’t see him permanently ridding himself of a helpful nature. Maybe Becoming can be that he lets a bug die rather than interfere and help it), which exacerbates feelings of uselessness.

S4: He has an idea that can only be done spontaneously. When nothing goes wrong despite lack of planning, he changes from Determining that failure is the result of his failing to plan enough to forming more realistic Expectations (planning and success aren’t necessarily linked). Being no longer afraid to help makes him feel more useful.

I might have Determination and Expectation reversed and should have the Problem being Expecting things to go wrong all the time causing him to over-plan and solving it with Determining other factors that might’ve caused failures, or better yet, even Determining ways that failures might lead to improvement.


This is great! I can feel the arc of it – always a good sign.

For the third signpost, I actually like that he becomes someone worse – maybe one of his friends is like “what’s wrong, you used to care enough to help” and he wonders if he’s lost that part of himself forever.

Becoming doesn’t have to be irreversible – it’s permanent “for now” but can be undone by another change. (Though there will also be that period of time where you became or unbecame something.)
Similarly, the becoming could be attributed to something other than the full, actual MC. Like like he might realize that some part of himself has become uncaring, or he imagines that he has become uncaring, and that causes personal strife.


I either haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a long time. Don’t really remember. But I can’t speak to what the video says at the moment. What I would say to that, though, is maybe SP4 leads to a Solution to the Problem, but not a solution to the other SPs, and that it leads to the Solution in that once you work through SP4 as a source of conflict you have fully explored the quad and have all of the information to decide to Change or remain Steadfast.

But you still need SP4 to be a source of conflict. If you take a traditional 3-act structure, then act 3 isn’t just a solution to the first 2 acts, right? It’s usually the part of the story that has the most conflict with the biggest stakes, right? And the Solution comes at the end of act 3. Think of Dramatica’s Sign Post 4 as act 3. This works even better when you keep in mind that a traditional 3 act structure actually has 4 acts (act 1, act 2A, act 2B, and act 3).