The Non-Passive Be-er

The thing is, that would make for a kind of ridiculous character: one who is functionally passive in their own throughline and yet suddenly starts leaping into action in the OS. I go back to my original question: what does an actual character look like who is a be-er and yet functions as an action hero in the story without suddenly becoming a do-er?

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I think you’re misappropriating what @Jhull said in regards to the action hero thing. If you look at Edge of Tomorrow, you have a perfect example. Tom Cruise as MC is the PR guy that wants to stay out of danger, he avoids it. He’s thrown into the OS situation, he tries over and over to get out of it – but he can’t. He has to do. He’s still a Be-er, he’d rather not be having to go through it all. But in the OS, he has no other option but to take action. A somewhat similar thing happens in The Bourne Identity.

And Collateral, which is an even better example. MC Jamie Foxx just wants to be the cab driver, he has dreams he wants to achieve. Crazy Tom Cruise comes in, kills a guy, and forces Foxx to drive him around while he kills others (OS). Eventually, Foxx has to do something to stop it because continuing as a Be-er won’t work in the Overall Story.

If I’ve made any errors, let me know, guys.

In those two examples, Edge of Tomorrow and Collateral, the defining characteristic as regards doing seems to be reluctance. Is that perhaps where the answer lies? That be-er characters are, at a basic level, passive and so are forced to change towards taking action (I mean this separate from problem/solution)? In other words, a be-er action hero would be one defined by their reluctance to take action but who is forced to do so by external circumstances?

I don’t know about that. It depends entirely on the storyform.

A Be-er MC in an Action-driven story (as Edge of Tomorrow and Collateral are) will be reluctant and fish-out of water, as a Do-er in a Decision driven would be.

But a Be-er in a Decision story isn’t reluctant at all, they’re the ones pushing to take action in their own way – it just so happens their method of solving problems WILL work in the OS.

I don’t know that ALL Be-ers are reluctant to take action, they just prefer to use what they have and adapt from moment to moment (a la Bourne), rather than change the world around them through action (a la Bond).

Yoda isn’t necessarily a good example because he’s not a main character, but for the sake of conversation (you asked what one might look like) and exemplifying the differences in character, he’s about as be-er as they come.

Another example is William Munny in Unforgiven. You could argue it’s a western and not an action film, but you’d be missing the point.

Go to the Dramatica website, select analysis and filter results for “be-er” and see which are action movies. There are a number of them there and you should be able to see some commonalities with the main characters between them to get a general sense.

If you look in the Dramatica Dictionary for willing and unwilling you’ll see that you are on to something with reluctance.

I want to clarify your question though. There are two ways to see an active be-er. One is character who is a be-er in their own subjective thread, but active in the OS. The other is someone (Hamlet is typically cited) that is a be-er but seems to be doing things – like going to Ofelia with his stocking down-gyved.

Which are you asking about? Or are you asking about both?

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I guess I’m wrestling with the defining characteristic of a be-er that separates them from simply someone with a problem or symptom that inhibits them taking action.

The way I got onto this line of thought came from doing yoga (God…I hate yoga) and noticing that a common refrain is “don’t try…don’t force it…just be…” along with lots of exhortations about breathing through everything. It struck me that the underlying message was to not try to change life but rather to accept it and find balance within it–terms and ideas that strongly reminded me of Dramatica’s references to the be-er approach. However I couldn’t quite reconcile this with the kinds of main characters we see in genre stories. From Westerns to Mysteries to Sci-Fi, the OS tends to require someone to change the external circumstances.

I’d imagine a yogi dealing with a murder mystery by saying, “finding the killer won’t bring back the dead, only finding acceptance will lessen the wound.” I could see the yogi reluctantly going after the killer (thus being a do-er) because there was no other way of dealing with the inequity if that killer might go after other people. I just can’t think of a way the yogi (or other be-er character) really goes after a murderer while still retaining their be-er nature.

I’ve checked out the analyses on many times, but, alas, there aren’t tons of films with comprehensive analyses that are both action films and have be-er main characters.

That said, I suppose if the central characteristic of the be-er is to adapt to their situation and thus change themselves rather than the environment, then that certainly works for Unforgiven and films like Shawshank Redemption where the main character, even as he pursues a long-game to escape, functions by accepting the external reality and adapting to it, rather than a character that might spend the whole movie trying various escapes and constantly rejecting the ‘natural order’ of that environment.

Yeah, that’s something you should get unstuck.

A yogi that goes after a killer reluctantly and kills him could still not solve their inequity, btw. If they don’t want to kill, and do kill, but find no peace in it for instance.

From the Theory Book:

A Do-er would build a business by the sweat of his brow.

A Be-er would build a business by attention to the needs of his clients.

Obviously both Approaches are important, but Main Characters, just like the real people they represent, will have a preference.

A martial artist might choose to avoid conflict first as a Be-er character, yet be capable of beating the tar out of an opponent if avoiding conflict proved impossible.

Similarly, a schoolteacher might stress exercises and homework as a Do-er character, yet open his heart to a student who needs moral support.

When creating your Main Character, you may want someone who acts first and asks questions later, or you may prefer someone who avoids physical conflict if possible, then lays waste the opponent if they won’t compromise.

A Do-er deals in competition, a Be-er in collaboration.

This explanation helps me the most. When I think of a Be-er, I think of someone who would try to plan/think ahead, deliberate over his decisions, put himself in other people’s shoes, pretend to be someone else, use his charm, rhetoric or reasoning (appeal to emotion, appeal to reason, appeal to…) over other methods. An Action story might not give him enough time or space to do those things, but he would still try to do them. A Be-er (to me) is more likely to try to convince/coerce/persuade than harm/kill. Internal/Mental rather than External/Physical.

And it seems to me, that when we talk about changing the environment (Do-er) vs. changing ourselves (Be-er), the second option doesn’t necessarily mean that we accept how things are. This reminds me of the Dramatica Comic where the Be-er example changes the environment simply by “being” an example. It’s more of a direct (Do-er) vs. indirect (Be-er) change of the environment.


I was thinking this through today and came up with the idea of someone like Tiger Woods in a golf tournament. He needs to win the tournament in the OS, but struggles with perfectionism in the MC thread. So he’s not reluctant at all, but still struggles internally.

Perhaps, but having almost all main characters have some form of internal conflict. Even if their throughline is located in Activities or Situation, they’ll still have some internal struggle. That said, the fact that selecting be-er in Dramatica automatically forces the MC throughline into either Fixed Attitude or Manipulation does seem to infer an internal struggle taking precedence over an external one.

I think the closest I’m coming to reconciling the notions around be-er characters is to think of being inclined to first try adapting versus changing the environment or situation.

That’s just the nature of it, but it can still manifest itself in a (somewhat) external way – it just stems from an internal problem.

I had a character that was a complete and total fraud, she was a ‘chameleon’ (manipulation). She would disguise her house to pass as different people, and would adapt and change herself to suit the situation. You could argue they were ‘do-er’ actions, but I think they were just external representations of a ‘Playing a Role’ Be-er concern.

The emphasis (as I understand it) isn’t on the actual things that the MC does, but the internal purpose and problem – that’s what the MC throughline is about. The Be-er/Do-er thing is just clarification on their preferred ways.

“Adapting” makes it sound like they aren’t trying to solve the problem, which isn’t always the case. Solving an inequity as a be-er isn’t necessarily equivalent to “learning to accept how things are.”

Maybe a different search you can do in the database is for Do-er/Change/Success stories. These are do-ers who opt to become be-ers and effect a successful outcome in the OS. Doing wasn’t cutting it, and the Success implies that they fixed a problem.

That’s a good suggestion–I’ll check it out and see what do-er/change/success stories look like in the database.

I think part of the problem here comes from thinking of one thing to the exclusion of others. That never works well in Dramatica.

We all exist within the internal and external worlds. A be-er is not devoid or unaware of the external world. A do-er is not devoid or unaware of the internal world.

Within the SPECIFIC CONTEXT of the story’s inequity as seen from the MC’s perspective, however, there exists a PREFERENCE to try to resolve inequities FIRST by applying effort internally (be-er) or externally (do-er). If that approach does not resolve the inequity, the MC may (reluctantly or insecurely) attempt to resolve the inequity using the alternative approach. This MC APPROACH is independent of the overall story functions assigned to the player that is also the MC.

I prefer assertive and passive over active and passive when describing approaches. Think of it as the amount of energy applied. An assertive BE-ER uses a high level of energy. A passive BE-ER uses a low level of energy. An assertive DO-ER uses a high level of energy and a passive DO-ER uses a low level of energy. This “energy level” appears to impact the MC’s effort, though not necessarily the effectiveness (which is context specific).


10 posts were split to a new topic: Difficulty understanding Dramatica Terminology

Be-ers seek meaning, Doers find purpose. Meaning is abstract and subjective. Purpose is concrete and objective.

I think a good example of a Be-er action series is Cobra Kai. The conflict is over with the two styles of teaching, to be a bully or to be bullied / resist being bullied. Neither is a purpose with concrete end goals, it’s about finding meaning in your approach to life.

Meaning being subjective doesn’t mean it has to be in the Subjective Throughline, though in the case of Cobra Kai i think it is.

Notice the conflict is set up in the first season with a Purpose, to compete and settle differences in the All-Valley Tournament. Yet the major plot developments during the climax is about the relationships – who is standing in who’s corner? Who wins doesn’t matter, it is how they win that lands to biggest emotional kicks.

I’m having trouble figuring out what you mean by this. Can you elaborate?

I would be careful not to confuse Be-ers and Do-ers with Holistic and Linear. Holistics looks at motivations (what i assume you mean by meaning). Linear looks at purposes.

Holistics may often feel more internal, while Linears feel more external… but that is not the case.

A Holistic Be-er is like Mitch in City Slickers
A Holistic Do-er is like Neo in The Matrix

Both MC’s are focused on achieving balance and motivation, rather than purpose.


A Linear Be-er is like Deckard in Blade Runner
A Linear Do-er is like Luke in Star Wars

Both MC’s are focused on the Goal, and finding purpose, rather than motivation and balance.