Starting a storyform before answering 12 essential questions

What’s the best step by step approach to developing a story from nothing more than the narrative Argument? Can anyone give me an example, I learn best when I’m show things or diagrams - thanx Emm.

If you want to develop a story for a novel, you can find my approach here:

How to - Writing a Novel with Dramatica


Germot, my friend, forgive my ignorance, but what is a one-pager? Do you mean a one page synopsis or is it an editor of some kind. Can I use it on a tab, my laptop was lost, so I have no DramPro programme for now. Emm.

Want to give us an example narrative argument to work through?

Until Mitch overcomes his dependancy, he will never get back his free will.

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No worries at all, an One-Pager is a term for a page (1 single page) where you put all necessary information for your project. This forces you to keep it simple but sharp and precise. In the business I am working (IT Project Management) we use this often to discuss objectives, approach and … with our clients.

Thanx for the reply, Gernot. Will I be able to download a similar template on my tab?

First thing I would suggest is that this reads like a statement being made prior to the events of the story and I think it would be better to have it read as though the story is already complete and all the action has already taken place. What I mean by this is that we don’t know if Mitch overcomes his dependency or not, only that he needs to if he wants to get his free will back. If we are going to build a storyform, we need to know for sure.

Going off what we’ve got, we could assume that Mitch does overcome his dependency and get his free will, but this story could also be about Mitch failing to overcome his dependency and remaining a slave to it. Can we start with changing the argument to read either:

  1. When Mitch overcomes his dependencies, he gains his free will.
  2. When Mitch fails to overcome his dependencies, he fails to gain his free will back.

I’ll add more in a bit, but need to get back to work for now.

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Yes, I’ve got you! It’s definitely one. Thanx so much for imput. I hope the rest of your day is productive. Emm.

How’s this Greg? "By accepting the fact that Sadie Teak does not - or ever could - be in love with him, Mitch is able to stop finding ways to be in her company, and get his life back ".

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Very good. Much more information to work with.

You’ll notice the narrative arguments found on Subtext look a little different. They don’t normally mention specific characters because the whole storyform (not just the MC) is needed to prove the argument. But that’s really just an aside.

Not because there’s anything wrong with how you have it, but just to make it simpler for myself, I’m going to reword it as “By accepting that Sadie doesn’t love him, Mitch is able to get his life back.”

From here, I’d start pulling out whatever points I thought I could find.

“By accepting that Sadie doesn’t love him…” This sounds like a Change to me (although, to be fair, the entire story could be Mitch accepting this and it finally works out in the end—in that case I’d change the argument to ‘keep accepting’) so I’ll go ahead and select Change for the Resolve. Does ‘accepting’ also suggest a solution of Acceptance? Or maybe a crucial element of Acceptance? Definitely something to keep in mind, though I don’t know that we need to lock it down just yet.

“…get his life back” sounds like it could be a judgment of Good. What do you think?


To start getting it closer to Subtext terms, maybe it could be:

“Start accepting that the girl of your dreams doesn’t love you, and you can get your life back.”


“Stop pursuing someone who doesn’t love you, and you can get your life back.”


@emm This is assuming that by “narrative argument” you’re referring to @jhull’s (of Subtext) approach. That involves:

Main Character Growth
Story Goal
Story Outcome
Story Judgment
Main Character Crucial Element

If you have a subscription, the conflict builder on that site is a great way to find storyforms from existing narratives that have similar conflicts as your story.

Chapter 3 of Dramatica for Screenwriters has a different approach which involves taking a premise (essentially a narrative argument) and breaking it down into character, plot and theme. I haven’t tried to use it much. Maybe we can convince @ArmandoSaldanamora to explain it a bit. :slight_smile:


Yes … I see how your mind is working … But if you can push my boat out a tab further before I tackle the 12 essentials I would be very grateful. I have a lot of material to use but applying it correctly to the storyform, I suppose, comes with experience. Thanx

You all make it look so easy. In a way it is, I guess. I like the first suggestion. Thanx. Emm.

Out of curiosity, what about the 12 questions is causing you problems? Are you having trouble answering the questions based on your material? (Not sure if Greg was trying to lead you straight there or not. :slight_smile: )

One of the things I keep learning is that because Dramatica is a holistic model, you can really approach a storyform from a lot of different angles. This can actually be pretty frustrating – you have to figure out not only which approach works for you as a writer but also for the material you already have.

It seems to me if you’re starting from a strong sense of what you want to say (narrative argument) and you could translate it into one of Jim’s narrative argument patterns, that would be a pretty fast shortcut.

But that might not be where you are. You could also approach it from a genre perspective:

Or start at the Concern/Quad level:


I just don’t seem to be able to work out what material I have fits in with what story point. I don’t seem to have a system for doing it. For instance, if this is Mitch’s theoughline, would it be an internal process or state?

For me that’s a tricky way to approach it. Maybe start with this: it sounds like Mitch is a Change character. Is that right?

Yes, he is a change character - it’s Sadie’s youth and vibrancy and her ability to embrace life and live for today ( the present) which finally impacts Mitch to realise he has settled for so little in life in terms of relationships and personal achievements and that he should not live in the past or daydream about his future but her on with the ‘here and now’ and live for today.

So of course there are many options but this sounds a little like a coming of age story. I could see an OS in Psychology and a Concern of Becoming - will they become a couple? Depending on the feeling you want it could be either Failure/Good or Success/Good.