Thinking of dramatica elements as a source of drive as opposed to source of conflict, inequity, and problems

I have been thinking about encoding a dramatica story points as a source of motivation as opposed to a source of conflict.

Here’s an example.

Encoding for the story point mind.

Samuel is minding how he’s dressed before going to his friend’s 18th birthday party.

He’s insecure about how he looks and this drives him to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes to check on how he looks in the mirror.

A girl he’s always wanted to talk to walks into the party location but because he’s minding how he looks he fails to approach her. At some point in the party, a friend Michael introduces him to her and leaves the Sam and Rachel to talk but Sam asks to be excused because he wants to check up on how he looks.

When he returns, he sees her talking to a group of girls. He picks a drink and finds a seat where he picks his phones and surfs the internet instead.

Minding how he’s dressed

Drives him to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes

Which drives him to excuse himself from a conversation with a girl he’s always wanted to talk to.

Is this accurate? I feel I’m able to do better encoding when I think of the dramatica elements as a source of motivation that leads to the actual motivation I want to deal with.

Is it okay to say, Dramatica is an analogy of the human mind trying to deal with a motivation?

@mlucas @glennbecker

Elements (Problem level)=motivation


cant an activity motivate someone?

Cant being self interested motivate someone?

Can’t understanding something motivate someone?

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There’s a great post @Mlucas about conflict / making a storyline a problem.

I think that’s what you’re doing here, which works great!

Sam + wants to impress girl at party + is so concerned with how he looks he lets her slip away = problem / conflict.

A motivation is a great place to start, but it’s almost using the element as storytelling instead of conflict.

“Glenn is motivated to discovery his family history” is a start, but it doesn’t feel that interesting dramatically.

“Glenn is so motivated to discover his family history that he misses the birth of his daughter.” He’s so caught up in his family’s past that he’s not there for his family now.

Now you have a story. :smile:

Yes Samuel – a drive or motivation is one of the best ways to encode a source of conflict. Just make sure you actually include the conflict.

Also note that the drive is usually not going to be the only source of conflict. Take the movie Arrival, for instance. Everyone has a drive to Understand the aliens and this is probably the most root-level source of conflict, basically the whole reason for the story. But as that drive of Understanding is followed, all sorts of misUnderstandings arise that cause conflict.

I agree all levels of the chart can be seen as drives.

(crossposted with @glennbecker – we seem to be saying a lot of the same things! :slight_smile: )


Not too surprising. I was just quoting your great advice. :smile:

Thanks for the responses.

My argument is motivations stacked upon each other eventually lead to conflict.

Here’s my take on understanding.

Understanding the true meaning of life drives John to become more generous to his neighbors which causes his wife to become angry at him because he no longer avails the same kind of income to her that he used to.
This drives her to think about giving in to the advances of the co founder of John’s firm.
John sees his wife and his co founder flirting during a certain dinner party and this drives John to confront her.

Understanding is not the conflict but it’s the source of conflict in this case.

Absolutely. :thumbsup: I think @jhull likes to say that all the elements in the storyform are little conflict generators. As long as there is conflict and its coming from Understanding / Misunderstanding then you are good.

I’d feel weird saying conflicting motivations are always the source of conflict, because I’m sure there are examples where that’s not the case.

As long as you’re getting conflict into your story and being productive, I’d say it’s a good way to think about it.

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Building conflict from drives works super awesome four me.

I’ll try to have four at least drives emerging from a dramatica story point in my narratives to create a sense of tightness.

The only thing I would add is that you’re really overlaying the narrative structure onto your story. You’re not really seeing the structure that is there as much as you’re putting structure onto what it is you’re writing…

In other words, the conflict is there because you’re making Understanding an inequity.


in other words the emphasis is not on the understanding, the understanding is not carried forward in the following motivations, however the source of conflict is the understanding,

Understanding how to bake a cake causes Blake to seek and understanding of how to start a cake shop business. Blake has a misunderstanding with the owner of a prospective location for his cake shop business which leads him to understand that starting and running a business is not as easy as he thought it would be.

What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that how writing works-- figuring out what problems to put in a story?

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I was just adding to the OP–I didn’t have an issue with it. Hope that’s clear.

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