Stuck in the loop

I seem to be on the upswing of the obsess-on-Dramatica-then abandon-it-to-get-some-writing-done-then-return-to-question-everything loop.

For various reasons, I’m dusting off an old completed story for which I’ve never found an adequate story form and–though things seem pretty quiet around here–I thought maybe someone could offer some insight.

Inspired by shonen and shoujo rom coms, the story has 2 MCs driven by their emotional and social isolation in a hostile setting.

The MMC is focused on how, as an outsider, he can never be accepted and responds by trying to avoid conflict by keeping a low profile. His IC tells him that he needs to be bolder and that he’ll never be happy or reach his potential without taking risks.

The FMC is focused on her inadequacies and responds by trying to be perfect in order to meet everyone’s unrealistic expectations. Her IC tells her she needs to worry less about what others want and focus more on what she wants for herself.

The story feels like a Change Start story for the first act, but Stop Steadfast for most of the rest of it. The conflict in the OS is caused by the 2 MCs following their ICs’ advice and forming a relationship. The second act consists of them resisting everyone’s hostility until the OS characters are forced to accept their relationship.

The second half involves them finding wider acceptance in public careers which slowly drives a wedge between them. Their relationship is only saved when they throw those careers away in a dramatic Hollywood fashion. Afterward, they are only publicly redeemed by the efforts of the friends they won back in the first half.

Not that unusual of a story, so it shouldn’t be that hard to identify, but after hundreds of story forms, the right one still eludes me.

It’s been a while since I’ve flexed my Dramatica chops, but heck, I’ll give it a shot!

The fact that you used Acceptance about a gazillion times in your post suggests to me that Acceptance/Non-Acceptance is probably important. :laughing: With the MMC especially, if you go with Present for the MC Concern and Attract for the Issue, then Acceptance/Non-Acceptance crosses with Proaction-Reaction, which sounds pretty much exactly like what you’re talking about! The MC is trying to be Reactive, but the IC is recommending being Proactive instead.

You didn’t talk as much about what the FMC is up to, but given you used the word “Inadequacy” (which is in the chart as “Inaccurate”) and the word “Expectation” (which is in the chart as… “Expectation”), one strong option for her would be the Doing Concern, Experience Issue. (“Focus on what she wants for herself” is bang-on Determination.) That does mean the MMC is in the Bottom-Right System, and the FMC is in the Top-Right System, but if they’re two separate storyforms, that’s probably okay?? (If you want to square the circle for them, you might be able to push the MMC into Inaccurate-Accurate as well.)

A Steadfast Character can sometimes change really early into the story, because it makes them into the person they always were meant to be. The most well-known example of this would be Jean Valjean at the start of Les Miserables, who doesn’t become himself until the bishop gifts him the silver and he breaks his parole. Tho based on the story you described, it… kinda sounds like they Change pretty significantly by the end of it? They’re still focused on others’ Expectations of them, but they don’t fully decide to self-Determine until the very end. But then, you’re the expert of this story, so maybe I’m misunderstanding.

But based on my analysis, if you were squishing this into one storyform, then it’s:

Change, Start, Do-er, Holistic
[Unclear], [Probably Optionlock], Failure, Good
Physics, Doing, Experience, Expectation

With a Main Character Throughline of:

Mind, Preconscious, Worth, Expectation

An Influence Character Throughline of:

Universe, Progress, Threat, Expectation

(I’m pretty sure there’s something weird about IC Throughlines, so this might be wrong)
And a Relationship Throughline of:

Psychology, Being, …Ability, Effect?

Crap, I forgot how to do RS Throughlines, too. Sorry :sweat_smile:

Ask yourself what the story is trying to tell the audience. What is the question the story is answering for the audience and, in one sentence, what answer is the story providing? The answer to that question should hold some keys as to what storyform the story might have.
If you can’t answer that question, the story either doesn’t have a storyform, or maybe has one by accident. In that case, decide now what you want those answers to be and what storyform best expresses those answers. Then rewrite the story to that storyform.

As an example, I wanted to figure out a storyform for a story I was working on and, like you, i went through countless storyforms trying to figure out which storyform was already in the story and none of them worked, even the ones i at first thought were perfect.

One day I remembered that this story arose out of a question I had from reading/watching other stories. Basically, I saw a couple movies and read a couple stories where the main/major characters would hint that they held a naturalistic worldview, would then be confronted by ghosts or some other supernatural entity, and would then end the story with the same naturalistic worldview.
My question was why would these characters, upon seeing ghosts or whatever, not immediately abandon-or at least question-their naturalistic worldviews. When I finally sat down and thought about what my story was trying to say in answer to that question, I realized that I was trying to say that the characters wouldn’t immediately abandon/question their naturalistic worldview because they’ve already justified a rejection of any non-naturalistic/supernatural worldview. Basically, the story was saying that its only when you accept that there’s more to the universe than what you know that you can finally start addressing problems with the way the universe is…or something to that effect.
And with that, i had the start of a pretty good premise. It could maybe still go a couple different ways, but with I knew about the story, the OS and MC throughlines, problems, and solutions were clear. With that, I was able to narrow everything down to a final form. Anything I had in the story that didn’t work toward illustrating that form could be cut or rewritten and any area of the storyform that wasn’t illustrated by the story I had in mind could be illustrated.