I’ve been following along with this new discussion of justifications and I love that new Dramatica techniques are emerging. As with all new ideas, there’s questions and suggestion of how to properly employ the techniques and since I’ve been in the background, I thought I’d throw some suggestions into the mix.
Firstly, since we all know that Dramatica side-effects can cause overthinking (true at least for me), my only goal here to find ways to use the software to write more quickly and effectively. And yes, I recognize taking up writing time to create this TLDR post proves my point!
Secondly, I’m a big advocate of reconciling other writing theories with Dramatica. There’s a lot of approaches to story structure out there, and I feel most satisfied when I find commonalities that produce inspiration. However, the best camera is the one you have in your pocket IMHO so everyone must choose his own.
That being said, I was very happy when the justification discussions turned to Lajos Egri (FYI - https://www.rightpronunciation.com/languages/hungarian/lajos-egri-22275.asp?id1=11&page=9)
The concept he established as Premise has always been a guiding force for me as a writing principle. It’s what we learned in Grad school at NYU Film and feels very clear. Egri has always seemed somewhat limited because his idea of a Premise is simply “a writer’s truth statement” versus a complete argument. He’s saying “speak your truth then formulate a story to argue its merits.” But this doesn’t give you enough information to write quickly and effectively. One of the reasons I like Dramatica is because the model provides the rest of the statement necessary to construct a complete story. In short, Lajos isn’t wrong, he’s just not complete.
So along comes this justification discussion as it applies to the classic premise “Greed leads to self-destruction.” The phrase works because it’s clearly stated, it’s easy to understand, and it represents an author’s POV. I’ve taught screenwriting here in NYC and I’ve used it as a means to help writers understand what a dramatic premise provides; a method to understand the relation between CHARACTER, PLOT, and THEME. Thus, (from my perspective - yours may differ) Greed (Character) leads to (plot) Self Destruction (theme). It’s a subjective cause-and-effect truth statement that must be demonstrated over time to be understood. Egri is simply saying “pick a side you believe to be true and then argue its merits” it’s up to you as a writer to figure out how. And every time, without fail, I get the same question back - “how do I do that?” This, I feel, is where Dramatica steps in to fill the gaps.
I’ll continue in the reply to this post…