The Villain Throughline: Outcome + OS Signpost 4 + Talking

Is OS signpost 4.4 as Outcome (of PRCO) the Final Driver?

My IC represents, and works for, a behind-the-scenes antagonist. As I plan the end of my story, I’m looking at the final signpost. It’s an Outcome of a current/circuit. BUT…it’s not the Final driver, right?

Is the final driver Problem + Solution --> failure (in my case) ?

Here’s what the Story Points report says:

In summary, “(my story title)” concerns a Goal regarding Gathering Information, which Requires progress to be made in Understanding. If the Goal is not achieved, a Consequence regarding Conceiving an Idea will transpire. The imminent approach of the Consequence is gauged by instances or degrees of Memories, which come when Preconditions of The Past exist. The Past is not intrinsically essential to progress toward the goal (essential Prerequisites pertain to Developing a Plan) but are made essential by someone’s insistence. As a result of these efforts, Costs involving The Present are incurred, while Dividends are found in Contemplation.

Indeed, the final thing that makes the MC/Pro realize she cannot have her goal is that information he gives. But the IC character arc is bad for him (he’s facing his demons) and the climax from all angles look like a talking thing.

I have action, but the end is a conversation and the MC gets away because of those issues the IC was dealing with.


Here’s my structure. Any input is appreciated.

From three angles it’s a talking signpost 4: MC, RS and OS. The setting is actually tense. But the information she gets is shocking. But after that point I’m painted in a corner. I need him to win, her to lose, but her to walk away.

Question: How can getting information, failure + good, be done without Deus ex machina, or the “villain talk” + side-swipe?

Alternately, can you think of any movies out there that end with similar idea-based climax? Thanks!

I’m having some difficulty understanding your question. Would you be able to clarify:

  • What things you believe Dramatica is telling you need to be done a certain way
  • What things you’re having trouble with just because it’s the way your story ideas have come together

In an Action-driven story, of course, the final Driver does need to be an Action, which resolves everything in the OS. You could see how maybe the MC/Pro killing the IC as a result of learning the info, might be more satisfying here. (that’s just a silly example, not something that would necessarily fit with your planned trilogy!)

If it were a Decision-driven story, you could see how the MC making the CHOICE to walk away at the end would be compelling. But I think there has to be some conflict in that decision, not an obvious thing that she’s railroaded into. (When Neo chooses to stand and fight the Agents, it’s not obvious that it’s the right thing to do.)

Are you sure your story is Action driven? Do you know the first driver event, or other Act Turn drivers?


At your suggestion, I’m checking if the goal is right. I’m tweaked some settings, maybe the right conclusion will come.

Right. The fourth sign post is a fourth exploration of the problem from that perspective. A story driver will take place at the beginning of the act. This driver ends the action or decision making of the previous act and kicks the story into that final perspective. That is, it changes the perspective from, say, Obtaining to Learning for the Overall Story. From there the conflict will be explored until the final driver bings an end to that exploration of the problem.

Correct me if I’m misunderstanding, but it sounds like you’re concerned that talking doesn’t qualify as action. Talking can work as an action driver. CHuntley has said Actions happen and decisions are made. If someone blurts out the secret password and your MC hears it, that’s an action that happened. If someone considers the options and gives the MC the secret password in order to strategically alter the course of events, that’s a decision that was made.


I’m trying to reap ideas for how a “conceiving an idea” can be the Final Driver (climax) of a story. If others give me some suggestions of movies or stories to look at that have an “aha” as the Final Driver, that would be good. But I’m still confused about the Final Driver.

Of course, if it’s not the final Signpost, but the Signpost was an immediate prerequisite then…

Is it Problem/Solution + Issue/Domain in light of RS issue with a hint of Cost?

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Just go ahead and say you’re conceiving ideas about conceiving ideas! Haha.

I don’t think you need to think of your driver itself as conceiving an idea. Your driver just needs to be an action or decision. Conceiving is what is creating conflict between story drivers. Your driver is what drives the story into the next act, the next perspective on the conflict.

It’s announced that the Americans have launched a missile (action driver) which forces the Russians to decide how to respond-strike back? Take cover?-but when one man has trouble conceiving that they are being attacked, he can’t bring himself to push the button to launch a counter strike (an attempt at SP of Conceiving-it could probably be stronger). The man steadfastly refuses to push the button (solution). The higher ups call and congratulate the man for keeping calm and not pushing the button when a glitch in the system made it look like the Americans had attacked (final action driver that ends the need to decide how to react and ends the exploration of the problem)

Probably not the strongest example, there, but that’s kind of how I would use everything.


As @Greg said the final signpost isn’t necessarily the final driver. It’s the big context that informs the conflict of that throughline for the final act.

The Empire Strikes Back has two parallel storyforms. In the one that deals with Luke-Yoda-Darth Vader, the final OS Signpost is Conceiving. So, fixated by the idea (Conceiving) that his friends are in danger (and having the idea that only he can save them), Luke leaves Yoda and heads for the cloud city. When he gets there, Vader tries to get Luke to conceive of the idea that he is his father and of the possibility that Luke should join the Dark Side. Being forced to Conceive of that possibility is the source of conflict for all the characters in that story. It’s not just that single revelation moment on the bridge – Conceiving is the subtext of conflict for the whole act.

If you filter by Psychology on the Analysis filter on the Dramatica site you can look for stories that have a final Signpost of Conceiving (but you have to read through them to see which ones do). Jim’s Subtext service lets you filter more precisely (e.g. by signpost) and has more up to date analyses, but it requires a subscription.


Some items to look for in the climax would be OS Solution, Requirements, Prerequisites, and MC Unique Ability. For a Steadfast story, MC/OS Response and maybe MC Problem (aka Drive). For a Change story, MC/OS Solution.

None of those are hard and fast rules. Look at them for inspiration. IC and RS story points may also come into it, of course.

Note that the situation you described for your climax (enemy teaching her about something harmful / shocking) seems a lot more like Learning (aka Gathering Information) than Conceiving.


Something you said reminded me of one of my favourite Dramatica movies.

This reminds me so much of one very specific scene at the end of The Devil Wears Prada (aka my go-to example for anything Dramatica-related, along with Amelie and almost certainly Paddington 2 when that DUG happens). It’s a psychology story and a Decision driver, so it won’t be of any help structurally (the other advice in this thread is excellent at covering that), but it so perfectly defines what you asked about in terms of the dynamics (steadfast/failure/good), the context (MC walking away after finding shocking information) and the visual way of doing it that maybe it could help inspire you a little in what you’re looking for.

If you haven’t seen it (spoilers ahead), some context: Andy has worked her way into Miranda’s favour and had to take over when Miranda’s ‘primary’ assistant got hospitalised, forcing her to take the much-coveted Paris trip; Andy discovered a plot by some unpleasant folk seeking to overthrow Miranda and get her replaced by her French equivalent; and Stanley Tucci’s character (whose name I can’t remember at the moment so I’ll call him ‘the Tooch’) was misled by Miranda into thinking he would get a promotion, only to see Miranda give that role to someone else in order to save her own job – horrifying Andy, but the Tooch sadly insists that ‘when the time is right, she’ll pay me back.’

The scene in the car at the end handles a kind of ‘villain talk’ very, very quickly: Andy’s efforts to inform Miranda of the overthrow plot was enough to show Miranda that she has potential (also a great ‘you and I’ moment), and Andy has now seen how ruthless and cruel Miranda can be, and how corrupting the industry is as a whole (OS Signpost 4 of Conceiving). Then you get the Driver/Steadfast/Failure/Good in one perfect, entirely visual moment: Andy decides (Concluding Story Driver) to walk away from this life (Resolve of Steadfast), throws her phone into the fountain (Outcome of Failure) and leaves with a smile (Judgement of Good).

Not sure if this is relevant or useful to what you’re looking for, but it is so uncanny to what you said that I couldn’t resist bringing it up.


I recommend not confusing OS Signpost 4 with the Story Goal – even though they MAY be assigned to the same structural item, e.g. Learning. The Signposts are the general context within which an act is explored in a particular throughline. All story points are explored int he context of the Signpost, not just the Concern. That is why your storyform may place the Type assigned to the Story Goal and OS Concern may be ANY one of the four Signposts and not be especially indicative of the Story Goal and Story Outcome.