The Story Goal Anomaly

Is it an anomaly ? A bug ?
On page 203-204 of the Theory book, it is very clear to me that the Story Goal could be ANY of the 4 Throughline’s concern.
Although, on the Dramatica expert application, The Story Goal seems to be automatically assigned from the OS Concern.
Why is that ? And what if I think that in my story the MC concern, is the Story Goal ? Is there a way of doing so ? Does it really matter ?

Basically, the primary concern type in the story (and I mean this even outside Dramatica’s “Concern” label… the worry, trouble, what they’re most concerned with) is of a certain and specific nature.

In some stories, the PRIMARY concern might have to do with Obtaining something. So if the primary concern in the story has to do with Obtaining, why then would a goal be something radically different like Understanding something?

If you’re out surfing waves, your main concern might be catching that big wave. And once you do, that concern is dealt with. If you’re out there on your board, waiting to catch that big wave–but your goal is understanding the nature of ocean currents… that sounds like a totally different story where catching a big wave isn’t the primary concern.

Hi John, thanks for this.
Maybe my question was confusing because your talking of Obtaining and Understanding which are both in the same Class. Or am I not getting your point ?
In your example, it is possible that everybody wants to catch the big wave (OS Goal of Obtaining) including the MC. But MC is doing so because he wants to feel one with the ocean (MC Goal of Becoming). It seems compatible to me. So what if I want this Goal of Becoming to be the Story Goal (the central objective of the story) ?

Ah I see what you mean.

Yes, they will be in the same class.
The big reason for that is that Dramatica doesn’t consider any MC Goal.

The MC throughline is really the “eyes” of the story. The subjective point of view that the audience attaches itself to. Whatever the MC goes through, they go through. The audience doesn’t have a goal, and neither does the MC.

Dramatica sees the Goal only in the Objective sense. The Plot.

The MC “concern” will always align with all the other concerns.

If OS Concern/Goal are in Obtaining … the MC would be in either Future or Subconscious (the same spot in the Concern level Quad). It would not be in Becoming, because if the OS is in Physics, the dynamic pair to the OS is the RS – which would be in Psychology by default.

Your example of the MC feeling like he wants to be one with the ocean sounds to me like a concern of Subconscious (basic drives and desires… wanting/loving/craving something).

Yes, my mistake.
Ok I understand, It seems contradictory though with the chapter of the theory book i mentioned but never mind, I prefer your explanation it reduces the knots in my head :wink:
Thanks John

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Dramatica Pro/Story Expert is an application of the theory with a bias towards Linear/Western culture. As these stories revolve around specific problems and solutions it only makes sense to “hardwire” in the Objective Story Concern as the Story Goal.

Future applications of the theory may make this an option for writers, though you can do it yourself in your head.

Many Holistic narratives feature the Relationship Story Concern as the Story Goal (think The Matrix and Neo Becoming the One (or One) or Moulin Rouge! with the lovers staying together through their secret song).

In the end, it’s a matter of emphasis and therefore up to the artistry and intuition of the writer. Altering the Goal will have no effect on the actual Storyform.

Now everything makes sense.
Except that I haven’t really understood what a holistic narrative is (I suspect it is not the MC problem solving technique). But that is another question for another day :wink:
Thank you Jim.

No it totally is!

Linear narrative is Linear MC Problem-Solving
Holistic narrative is Holistic MC Problem-Solving

I say just Holistic narrative because really — the latter isn’t problem-solving…

I see that this is all sorted out, but I believe part of the confusion comes from Chris and Melanie not seeing entirely eye-to-eye on this point, though I don’t know the full history.

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I think it’s more -

  • Melanie is focused solely on theory
  • Chris is focused on practical application

So they both see eye-to-eye, just different endgame.


I think things sometimes get confusing (at least in my mind) because everything is seen/defined in opposition/contrast to something else. It may sometimes be difficult to determine which half of that contrasting pair one should focus on when determining the story’s intent.


For me, it’s all about the Author’s intent. With any dynamic pair, you can easily slip into talking about one or the other. But it’s about where you want to put the focus.

A good example of this is Self-Interest vs. Morality.

An author’s argument could focus on showing that it’s bad to do things that only serve yourself.
Or, the author’s argument could focus on showing that it’s good to do things that help everyone.

Both messages are really saying the same thing. It’s all about what you focus on. I’ve found that most elements have a “positive” and “negative” side.

Self-aware vs. Aware … one is about oneself, one is about others.
Actuality vs. Perception … one is about how things sit outside of one’s self, one is about the way someone sees something.