I’m from Auckland New Zealand, I’m new to the board and the Dramatica theory and I’ve been spending some time working my way through how it all fits together.
In looking at the Dramatica Table of Story Elements and The Godfather analysis on the Dramatica site, I notice that the Influence Character ISSUE has been outlined as Dream (IC > Mind > Subconscious > Dream), therefore I expected the Influence Character PROBLEM to come from the elemental set underneath Dream: i.e. Faith / Support / Disbelief / Oppose. However, the Influence Character Problem has been described as Avoid - which is from the CLOSURE set of elements - as do the related others: IC Solution; Symptom and Response all come from the Closure set.
Q: Does that mean you don’t have to select a Problem from the same set of elements as the Variation you have selected? i.e. could the IC Problem come from any of the 16 elements underlying the Type Subconscious?
Up until now everything seemed to follow the ‘4 towers / drilldown’ logic.
Thanks for any clarification!!
If the story has a Change MC motivation, then the MC Arc and IC Arc will share the same Problem/Solution.
If the story has a Steadfast MC motivation, then the MC Arc and IC Arc will share the same Symptom/Response.
However… okay, this part I understand a little less, but IIRC, the IC Issue is in the same coordinate (top-left, top-right, bottom-left, or bottom-right) as the MC Issue, even if that means the IC Problem/Solution/Symptom/Response aren’t in there.
Why does it do that? … Sometimes, Dramatica works in mysterious ways.
The Dramatica table is the “at rest” model. In order to get a storyform, the model has to be “wound up”. The table is wound up around both the OS and the MC throughlines.
Winding up the model around the OS or MC is essentially picking an element at the most zoomed in level and putting your finger on it so that neither that element nor the elements above it can move around. And then all of the other elements get wound up in relation to the one you have your finger on. That’s why the OS or the MC have that drilldown approach such that their problems will never be found outside of their parent issue, but the IC and RS problems might.
Thank you very much for your responses @Greg and @mlucas - that definitely helps my understanding. I have been going back through the Dramatica theory book as well as Armando Saldana-Mara’s book Dramatica for Screenwriters just to try and get a better grip on how the model works.
Continuing on from your response - one thing I haven’t (yet) been able to find out from those two sources is how to determine what the IC and RS problems ought to be, given the ‘fixed points’ of the OS and MC issues. i.e. what drivers / inputs is the Dramatica Storyform using in order to populate the IC and RS problem and issue fields?
I mean is there a logic behind it or is it simply better regarded as: wind the model up and select whichever problem / issue seems most interesting to explore?
This is the point where I would recommend getting the software, especially if you have a Windows PC (I don’t have Mac but I believe there are issues with running under current OS versions, with the fix still outstanding). The other option is a Subtxt subscription (which includes a LOT of other advantages including AI-powered structure and storytelling suggestions).
To figure out what you need is possible without the software – the rule is that the OS has the same Problem/Solution elements as the Changed character (whether MC or IC). The OS will also have the same Symtpom/Response elements as the Steadfast character.
For RS, I can’t remember the rule offhand. I think it shares the Problem/Solution with OS in a Failure, and Symptom/Response with OS in a Success. But I’m not 100% sure if I’m remembering that correctly.
The IC and RS issues are in the same quad position as MC and OS, respectively, within their own Concerns.
Thanks @mlucas - I did subscribe to Subtxt but I felt as though I had jumped straight into the deep end as I struggled to understand the terminology and what the AI was presenting, which is why I came back to the Dramatica theory. I have a Mac running Monterey so I’m waiting for the OS software update before I download the Dramatica software. I do also have an old PC so I have been trying to get the trial version of Dramatica for Windows so at least I can explore that, but the links to the trial software (for both Mac and PC) end up in “404 Page Not Found” errors on the WriteBrothers’ website. I contacted them a couple of weeks ago but no response - I assume the trial versions have been discontinued?
Anyway, in order to make sense of the Dramatica theory I reconstructed it in Excel - which all worked fine until I noticed my workbook was giving me different results for the IC and RS output fields to what the Dramatica analysis (and Subtxt analysis) was showing.
REALLY appreciate your insight here - I’ll tweak the logic in Excel based on your comments and see if I can get my output to match (or at least a little more consistent).
I did run into the 404 for the version to purchase also, and I called the 818# and left a message about it. Maybe, the new updates are putting things on hold, etc.? I remembered the dreamkit I had purchased in 1996, and when I got one a few years ago, it ended up being just one level of the current dramatica pro, not the original dreamkit. I then got the pc dramatica pro, so I didn’t use the dreamkit. Maybe they would let me loan it to you?
I have used macs since apple2 and used pcs at work, at times. I preferred the typing experience on the microsoft pcs, and remained waiting for the surface book2 to become cheap. The dramatica pro 4 was always cool, btw.
Thanks for the info and offer @Prish - super kind of you. I’ll just keep working through the theory for now and try to get a good grasp of it by reconstructing the logic and see how far I get. I don’t mind buying the Writer’s Dreamkit myself so I’ll take a look at it :0). Thanks for the recommendation.
I hear you on this, but to be fair I don’t think there’s any way to learn Dramatica without feeling like you’re jumping into the deep end – the learning curve is steep no matter what. It might be worth giving Subtxt another try. Forget about the AI stuff if it’s confusing (it’s cool but not necessary) and ask questions on the Discord board.
That said, I do think it would be great if we could get an updated Mac version though! I helps a lot to see how choosing one story point affects another without having to parse it out for yourself.
The reason you can’t just select what you want the problem in each throughline to be independently is because in order to make the point to your audience, you need to view the same problem from all four relative perspectives. Yes, the SAME problem. No, the problem in one throughline usually won’t LOOK like the same problem in a second throughline, but it is. Let me show you.
Say you want to talk to your audience about the personal view of the psychology of being enfolded into a system to the point of losing ones freedom and the decision to deal with this by supporting the establishment until they’re convinced to start opposing it (Change, Start, Be-er, OS Throughline Universe, OS Problem Support, MC Throughline Psychology, MC Problem Support - for an example, look at Red in The Shawshank Redemption).
This means that every time your story shows the MC perspective of the inequity to the audience, it’s going to be showing them how Support leads to turmoil. It also means that every time your story shows an OS perspective of the inequity, it’s going to be showing them how Support leads to turmoil. It also means that, from the perspective of the OS and MC, your IC and RS will ALSO be showing the audience how Support leads to turmoil.
But if you enter all of that into the Dramatica Storyform Engine, you will NOT get an IC or RS of Support. Why not?
Again, from the OS and MC perspectives, ALL PROBLEMS in the story are SUPPORT PROBLEMS. That is, all problems in the story will look like Support problems from both a personal and a disconnected/objective perspective. But when the mind tries to view what the problem would look like to a perspective outside of those two, even though the mind (all caps for emphasis) WILL SEE PROBLEMS OF SUPPORT for those other perspectives, it will also observe that those perspectives WILL SEE THOSE SAME SUPPORT PROBLEMS AS SOMETHING OTHER THAN SUPPORT.
(if you know anything about Einstein’s relativity, this is where you would get into the speed of light, relative movement, space contraction, and time dilation)
An MC who is driven to support the system they have begun to rely on will see someone else who is supporting the system they have begun to rely on as thinking that they are dealing with Control problems. It’s a Support problem, the mind will say, but someone else dealing with the same problem would say it’s a Control problem.
As proof, Red in Shawshank supports the parole board. They want to see rehabilitated prisoners and he does his best to show them what they want to see. He tells them that his time in the system has done to him exactly what it was supposed to and now he’s a rehabilitated man. But that gets his parole rejected. And then he looks at Andy to see what he’s dealing with. And he sees Andy tarring the roof while Captain Hadley gripes about the money his brother left him and how he’s going to have to pay taxes on it. And Red sees Andy SUPPORT the guard by telling him he can keep the money if he trusts his wife. He sees Andy SUPPORT the system by telling the Captain that he, Andy, will fill out all the appropriate forms, nearly free of charge. And this almost gets Andy thrown off the roof.
But Andy doesn’t think these are problems of Support at all. He thinks they’re problems of Control. There he is an innocent man tarring the roof of the prison while Captain Hadley gripes about his financial woes. He could tar the roof quietly as he’s been told to do, or he could TAKE CONTROL of the situation and make Captain Hadley a deal in which he helps the Captain keep all of the money in exchange for a few beers to make Andy and his co-workers feel like free men for a few minutes. Andy would say TAKING CONTROL is what almost got him thrown off the roof.
That Andy didn’t get thrown off the roof and instead he, Red, and the others all felt like free men for a few minutes is what helps show Red that treating Support problems like Control problems will lead to a feeling of freedom. And that helps to convince Red to eventually go into his parole hearing and start Opposing the board in an attempt to take Control over his own time (“There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should,” Red says. “…Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time…”).
But if you take Red’s problem of Support and try to show him a problem of, say, Logic through Andy, then you’re not going to be making the same point to the audience. Both your story and your narrative will be muddy and muddled. Just imagine Red opposing the board in an attempt to Logic his way into parole. That would be weird.
(edit: for those of you familiar with Einstein’s relativity, you may see that I took a shortcut. Ideally, I should have explained that while Red sees problems of Support for both he and Andy, he sees Andy as seeing problems of Control while at the same time, Andy would see problems of Support for both he and Red but would see Red as seeing problems of Control. The reason this wasn’t explained is that the storymind isn’t interested so much in what Andy would actually see, but only in what Red would see and in what Red would see Andy as seeing.
Also, @Lakis is dead right. Nothing but deep end when it comes to Dramatica)
Don’t work through it too hard. Dramatica takes care of making sure all of that applies to the story you’re telling. The point in posting it was just to show that there is a reason that each problem in each throughline is what it is, and that you can’t just pick an IC problem independent of the MC problem. All four problems mean something when viewed together in a story, so the selection of a problem in one throughline will necessarily reduce the number of problems available to choose from in another throughline.
Strong second to this. Never forget that Dramatica is supposed to be model of the human mind solving a problem, not the other way around. This is how story naturally works — Dramatica just provides a tool/model to help you figure out where there might be blind spots, or to help spur your intuition to get to a complete story more quickly. But you don’t need to understand or illustrate every point, especially not at first, and not all at once.
And you don’t need to know where every point of the storyform lands for the successful writing experience. (doing it just for fun is a different matter which I did, and it didn’t help with cranking out a finished story, btw.) I had a Dramatica story expert in 1999 go over an almost finished first draft of a historical novel when I was learning what Dramatica was all about. (before I decided to put it aside to write scifi).
There was one paragraph of four average (short) length sentences. It was something about getting a horse vehicle while several characters interacted, with no dialogue. In novel writing it might have been what was referred to as ‘exposition’. The Dramatica story expert mentioned to me that each sentence actually covered one of the element quads. Each sentence manifested one of the elemental terms in that quad. Later, I could not remember the specifics or find that old email. However, it was great to experience how the storyforming could manifest with minimalism. Some points were elaborated on, and some points were merely almost invisibly touched on. Fascinating.