Throughline presentation in a single POV narrative

Personally, I don’t change POV from one throughline to the next. I stick with third person.

I avoid the concept of omniscience with regards to the overall story.

I think of the overall story as simply “what all of the characters (including the MC) are doing and thinking” regardless of who’s POV is experiencing the story.

Plus, I also feel that a main character’s pov of the overall story, as he watches it unfold, doesn’t have to be reliable, unreliable or omniscient.

It can certainly be wonderfully unreliable, though.

You might want to check out How Does Dramatica Define Point-of-View in the QnA section.

Michael; jhull,

thanks for your replies. jhull, I read the link you provided. And - to be honest - I’m still confused. It would really help if within those examples were tags indicating which sentences referred to what throughline. The Third Person example is omniscient, because it directly portrays thoughts of each character. The first person reveals aspects of the impact character’s nature, engaging in meta-narrative. So I suppose that’s what’s meant. Though, I suppose that perspective could be unreliable - in which case, OS, IC, and aspects of the RS throughline would be implied by what’s NOT stated.

Regardless, thanks.

Not sure if this will help and it’s coming entirely from my own experience but my series of novels is written entirely in the first-person and each one deals with the four throughlines. Since they’re fantasy novels, that can feel less concrete (which I think is what makes the Red Riding Hood example a bit hard to follow).

Here’s my best effort at a 1st person couple of paragraphs with annotation to show the four throughlines (perhaps others can modify/comment if I’m getting anything wrong here.) It’s less concise than the Dramatica example but maybe it’ll be easier to see the delineation between the throughlines:

The next morning I limped into the office half an hour late for the daily sales meeting, the shooting pain in my knee accompanied by an unnerving clicking sound every time I put weight on it. The doctor had been wrong. I was getting worse, not better. [MC domain of Situation] All five of the other salesreps watched as I shambled into the meeting room, each of them wearing a freshly-pressed suit and sporting new haircuts that must have cost them next month’s bonus. The “big secret” about a position in management opening up must’ve gotten out, and now we were going to spend the next four weeks trying to out-do each other in Kerman Furniture’s own little version of ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ [OS domain of Activities]
“Finally decided to show up?” Carl asked, standing up at the front of the meeting room. He was backlit by the meeting room’s projection screen, proudly displaying the same “10 Rules of Sales” PowerPoint slide he’d been using for the last six years. As far as Carl was concerned, that slide might as well have been carved on stone tablets. [IC domain of Fixed Attitude]
“It’s the knee,” I said, as if that weren’t immediately obvious. “It’s still buggered up from the car accident.”
Not a lick of sympathy showed on Carl’s face. “Is that what you’re going to tell Lara Davis when the company that’s been in her family for seven generations goes bankrupt? Sorry, I got into a fender bender? Where’s the hungry kid who chased me all the way to my cabin in Wichita begging me for a chance to get out of the mail room and into sales? Where’s the guy I spent all those days with on the road just to show him the ropes? Sales is a tough game, kid.” Carl pointed up to his PowerPoint slide. “Rule number 1: step up or get out.” [RS domain of Manipulation]

Hope that helps!

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That does help. Thank you.

Was it your megathread that described the process of story encoding a story form from back in 2014? I think it was. I read through that entire thread carefully. Also, most helpful.

This piece I’m working on was conceived several years ago. I wrote about 70,000 words of structural garbage. With some real gems interspersed in the merde. Characters are clear and well defined. Tone is set (black comedy / thriller). I’ve got a backbone, originally structured based on McKee’s Story. And a new outline, now in Scrivener (along with all the old text broken down by scene with notes).

I’m having a very tough time taking this semi-developed work and cramming it into the Dramatica structure I’ve chosen. Your work has at least enlightened me on some aspects of story coding process. Again, thank you very much for that.

No. I’m sorry. That was JBarker and his thread is to be found here:

Alas, I cannot take any credit–anything I write about Dramatica is really just me re-hashing some of what I’ve learned from talking to Jim Hull. I highly recommend his site as a way of complementing and clarifying the information available from the Dramatica book and site.

For what it’s worth, I often end up with a rough draft and then try to cram it into Dramatica–it helps me find opportunities for better story development for the next draft.


I don’t mean this to come across as snarky, but you do know that the story is supposed to choose the structure, and not you?

Initially I came here to address a different point, though, which I will do here. I think the best answer to your question will be found by taking your favorite single POV story and reading it again while trying to answer this question. I know there is probably an objective answer out there to be found, but I think you will find what works best for you by using some elbow grease.

In addition, you can then come here with specific questions, along the lines of, “I read this text and am having trouble figuring out if this part here belongs to the OS or the MC thread…”

Dramatica, as you know, is abstract. Concrete examples go a long way, though it can be hard when you have read an entire book and nobody else knows it. It’s why the movie podcasts can be wonderful – but movies only take two hours.

You should have an analysis of Lord of the Flies with your software. That’s the novel, not the movie. If you want to read that book and try to answer this question for yourself, you’ll have a nice cheatsheet to guide you. And, lemme tell you, cheatsheets in Dramatica are a wonderful tool not to be overlooked.

Thank you MWollaeger. Duly noted.

Have you chosen a book to read to look into how single POVs can work with all four perspectives?

To be honest, I’ve had a sick baby on my hands and haven’t done anything over the weekend. But I own and have read Lord of the Flies. The piece I’m working on is in Third, Limited. I think Bronte’s Jane Eyre might be a better example of a single POV piece in Third for analysis. It’s also a structurally near perfect work.

Ugh, sorry about the sick kid.

Jane Eyre might be a better choice for you. However, there is not currently an analysis of Jane Eyre so you’d be on your own. I’m trying to give you a suggestion that has a dramatica breakdown so you can try to suss out how Dramatica & a Limited POV work in concert.

I don’t doubt this, but which structure are you referring to here? There are many structures for stories, and if you are trying to learn how Dramatica works, you might want to start with one that you know aligns with the theory. I’m not saying that because I’m concerned Jane Eyre doesn’t line up, or that I’m trying to make you a convert to Dramatica. I’d recommend Pulp Fiction to filmmakers for lots of reasons, but not if they were trying to make a movie with meaning.

What do I mean by ‘near perfect’?

Well comparing Jane Eyre to Pride and Prejudice, one could say Austen duplicated traditional comedy form that went back to Greek theater, but is most closely associated with Shakespeare’s comedies like Midsummer Night’s Dream or Taming of the Shrew. In Dramatica genre speak, you might call it Comedy of Errors, where the climax is found through resolving those errors leading to the joining of families through marriage.

But Bronte did something different. She created a form that depicted childhood tragedy for the female lead. One that damages her emotionally. And the main MC throughline arc deals with resolution of a psychological conflict that leads to internal epiphany, finally climaxing with the creation of a new family. This form is the basis of nearly all romance novels today.

That’s what I mean by a ‘near perfect form’. As near as I can tell it was new at the time yet still replicated today. And remains the basis for the most popular fiction genre in print today.

Okay. Yes, that seems like a really good structure. Given that you didn’t mention an OS, IC or RS, I just want to alert you to your perspective, which currently isn’t honed to thinking in Dramatica terms. If you are looking to understand throughline presentation in a single POV narrative, just be aware that you may lose track of which throughline is which when you read.

I would like to point out that @jhull wrote a short analysis on Jane Eyre some time back. I don’t know how accurate it is (or if he would still support it with his current understanding), but it might give you ideas. I haven’t read Jane Eyre myself, so I can’t say either way.

Ah, then I can rescind all of my concerns. Thanks.

I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I’m filling out each of the scene notations for each signpost for each throughline on index cards and pinning them up in order on a corkboard. This refers to my previous post where I graphically mapped out the how scenes notations related to signposts as calculated by Dramatica software.

I would focus just on the signposts, if that’s not what you are doing.

Mwolleager: would you explain this? The Dramatica Plot Sequence Report contains entries such as:

OS Signpost 1, Scene 1: Doing as it relates to Prerequisites:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 2: Doing as it relates to Strategy:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 3: Doing as it relates to Analysis:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 4: Doing as it relates to Preconditions:

For each Signpost on each Throughline I’ve created an entry in Scrivener. Put this information in a card, and then went through the Dramatica dictionary to obtain definitions of each term. Those definitions were copied to each Scrivener text block. So I have a folder for each Throughline and a separate entry for each Signpost, within which are definitions for each Scene.

For each Scene entry I try to match dictionary definitions to aspects of the story, from the perspective of each throughline. Then I copy this to an index card and pin it to a large corkboard, Signposts left to right and throughlines top to bottom in a grid.

Right? Wrong? Too detailed?

A couple of things. I don’t necessarily think that the PSR is too detailed, but you may be attacking it at the wrong time. Have you pegged where you think the major drivers are? Do you know which act you are in at each time? If you move forward without setting these anchor points, you may find that you move too quickly through the PSR. If you do that, what you will find is that you will cram scenes into places they don’t belong. It’s unsatisfying. That’s my experience anyway.

Second, the PSR is what the story feels like from the “inside” – how it is subjectively felt by characters in each domain. I think that level of understanding will require several readings of the book.

I would focus on the bigger points, at first anyway. Know the answers inside and out for the major dramatica questions. Then, my advice, would be to really get a good understanding of which moments are related to the Symptom/Response, Problem/Solution. Then the Issues. Then maybe the catalyst and inhibitor. Really get an understanding of where the IC exerts their influence on the MC.

These things are probably going to be your bread and butter for writing.

At this point, I would ask yourself if you have enough tools. If not, I’d look at the PSR. The PSR is really for intuitive writers, which – almost solely by looking at how you are approaching this – I am going to guess you are not. I’m not either. It’s neither here nor there. It’s just something that is, like being left or right handed.