Understanding IC story points

Production is the IC’s Drive, as you’ve established. I think, theoretically, you could have an OS character represent Production in the OS, and have the IC represent Production solely in the case of how they influence the MC. That’s probably more inefficient than letting the IC be Production in both cases, but I could see it as a possibility. Inefficiency means you need more space between the two characters, which means more time, which means a longer work–whether novel or screenplay, I don’t think you said which you’re doing.

(Another consideration is that, if you give another character Production, then they are now co-Influence Character. The “Influence Character” isn’t a specific person; rather, it’s whoever represents the influential element in the story. Kinda like how Popes come and go, but the Holy See remains, so diplomatic agreements are made to the See rather than a person.)

The Relationship Throughline is always a tricky one. Take a buddy cop movie as an example: the MC is our veteran officer, the IC is our newbie with some refreshing viewpoint to challenge the MC’s jaded cynicism, but the RS is the developing camaraderie between the two. To say the characters “represent” some element in the RS is to confuse the way the OS and the RS play out, I think. The characters are who they are in the Objective, but they have a special relationship in the Subjective.

I generally agree with your thoughts on the IC Benchmark, just don’t confuse it and the OS Preconditions. The IC can be the one imposing the Preconditions, but it could be anyone. OS story dynamics belong to everyone.

But I think you’re understanding and managing the theory quite well! Don’t get discouraged. :slight_smile:

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Thanks again for the feedback! This is really helping :sunny: and quite invigorating!

I haven’t continued mapping out the character elements since I threw out my last Storyform and started with this one. But I also feel it would be best to keep Production, Reduction, Probability and Possibility between the MC and IC.

I generally have a problem keeping the OS characters and the players apart. I once read somewhere that all the players are subjective characters and then later I read somewhere that only the MC and the IC are subjective characters and not players.

If all players = subjective characters then the RS could be between all characters, as it would describe the problem that the characters have in their relationships with each other and not just the IC and the MC.

If MC + IC are the only subjective characters then the RS can only be about their relationship.

Which is it? Or is it both? If the IC can be different characters (e.g. the ones who have Production, Acceptance and Possibility or Probability) then the RS throughline becomes a view of the relationship the MC has with different (IC) characters? It’s spinning again :dizzy_face:

Let’s see if I can keep this straight:

If my MC had the element of Probability and the IC had Possibility there would be at least one scene where the MC tells the IC how ridiculous it is to base one’s decisions on what might be true and the IC counters that basing one’s life decisions only on what is likely is a life without imagination and totally pointless. This would be them as OS characters?

In my Storyform (for a novel btw.) the RS throughline’s solution is Probability, while Possibility is the problem. The MC (who has the element Probability) is always fretting about what is likely to happen to disrupt his hopes for his relationship with the IC (since it’s his character element, he’ll be fretting about/ making decisions based on likelihood in all areas of his life). The overproductive and imaginative IC does nothing to alleviate the MC’s fear because he believes everything is possible (Possibility). This is also them as OS characters.

Over the course of the story they have their little tiffs while they make a plan of how their relationship may work, start playing a role in order to keep peace, unconsciously start losing and gaining attitudes that change who they are and finally realise they want their relationship to last and will do whatever needs to be done to make it work. They finally stop seeking out what is possible and concentrate on what is probable, thus strengthening their bond and resolving their problem. This is the elements at work as appreciations of the RS.

While all this is happening the MC, who doesn’t accept who he is and is constantly being badgered by the IC to start evaluating his Innermost Desires instead of trying to attract what he thinks he wants by being proactive, comes to stop disregarding who he is and begins to accept himself and the situation he is in (Solution MC). While he doesn’t stop looking out for what is likely (MC’s character element Probability), he stops fretting about it/ opposing his relationship with the IC and is able to embrace it (Solution RS). The IC remains Steadfast in that he doesn’t stop his hyped-up imagination, but he settles down and begins to dream up possibilities (IC’s character element) for his relationship with the MC that are probable (Solution RS), thus helping to alleviate the MC’s initial fears.

On the OS level the MC’s best friend Certainty would always have his back and be the bane of the IC’s existence, while IC’s best friend Potentiality would drive the MC up the walls whenever he heard them discuss their next adventure.

Have I managed to keep the MC and IC as OS characters and subjective characters apart? How would I bring in the elements Potentiality, Certainty, Acceptance and Nonacceptance when discussing the RS thematic counterpoint of Permission without bringing in the characters holding those elements. Would the 4 characters be discussing an issue (say Permission to own a gun) and for once the MC would be of one mind with the IC’s best friend Potentiality and the IC would be high-fiving the MC’S best friend Certainty for each argument they made? Or is doing that exactly what one shouldn’t do?

This turned out much longer than planned :worried:

A “player” is just the human being that the story element roosts in. Again, like sitting in the Holy See grants you the title of “Pope.” The core of Dramatica Theory is this idea that a story is like a mind trying to puzzle out a problem by considering every possibility and every story element. To do this, it instantiates the elements into players to bounce off of each other. The “Control character” is just whichever player the storymind is using to represent Control at the moment. This doesn’t have to be the same player all the time, but having more than one at the same time is inefficient and can be confusing, especially if they were to interact with each other. The role of “Main Character” and “Influence Character” are also inhabited by players–the Main Character almost certainly by just one, and the Influence Character usually but not always by just one.

The Main Character and Influence Character are the most important subjective characters. I’m not sure they’re the only ones; for example, I think some stories do a lot with what I’ll dub the “Deadset Character,” who, contrary to the Influence Character, tries to provoke the Main Character into staying exactly as they are. (You don’t need this character in every story, usually because the Main Character does this all by themselves.) You might also have mentor types, who don’t advise towards Change or Steadfast, just help the Main Character understand their position; catalyst types, who keep forcing the Main Character and Influence Character into situations where they have to interact; agent types, who continue to impose the IC’s influence even when they’re not in the scene; etc. Must investigate further.

Again, remember that the IC and MC are roles that certain players put on, and the Relationship Throughline is the arc of the relationship between these roles. So if the IC moves from one player to another, the relationship changes accordingly. In one show we’ve discussed previously, the IC hands off from the MC’s brazen (male) role model to a more subdued (female) romantic interest. Yet the Relationship Throughline still chugs along, because both the male and the female characters both have a supportive relationship; they prop up the MC and strengthen him when he is filled with doubt. That strength helps him grow and change from a weakling who can only move forward by having faith in the confidence of others to a hero who has faith and confidence in himself.

Hope that makes sense! :blush:

I… think you’re on the right track for your own story. Just keep in mind that the Main Character and Influence Character have arcs distinct from their roles as OS characters. You could think of it kinda like… imagine two friends that are playing World of Warcraft together. One’s playing a healer, one’s a tank. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, just recognize that they’re different roles in the game.) Throughout the story, we care about the two friends as they interact and affect each other. They’re having arcs and establishing a relationship. Their WoW characters, though, aren’t having arcs. They’re just hacking and slashing their way through the quests to beat the boss. But as the humans have their personal arcs, that affects their playstyle, making them more or less likely to beat the boss.

…Does that clarify it at all? :laughing:


@actingpower thanks a lot for your input! I’m going to have to digest all of that to see if I really understand :laughing:

I’m having issues again with the IC and his influence and when going through story examples I got even more confused. I’m looking for illustrations for my IC SPs and so far I was always thinking of them in ways the IC influences not in terms of what the IC is thinking or feeling or doing. The examples somehow always describe what the IC is doing not his influence. Am I going at the IC Signposts the wrong way or are both ways possible?

IC Signpost of Memory
All About Eve: Eve (IC) recalls her personal history to Margo, Lloyd, and Karen
Lawrence of Arabia: Inflamed by his tribal history of blood enmity with the Hazimi, Ali (IC) matter-of-factly shoot Tafas for drinking from his well.

My illustrations:
The IC’s drug use confronts the MC with memories of his drug addiction

IC Signpost of Contemplation:
All That Jazz : Angelique (IC) considers Joe’s request to hold off a little longer before seducing him over to the other side.
Tootsie: Julie (IC) considers that she misses her friend Dorothy, and that Dorothy is in Michael. She gives Michael a chance to know her as a man.
Lawrence of Arabia: Instead of returning to the desert like Auda, Ali (IC) decides to stay in Damascus and learn politics.

My illustrations:
The death of the IC forces the MC to consider a life without him

It can be either. The Signpost Type can describe the IC’s influence on the MC, or what the IC is dealing with, or both. However, if it’s something the IC is dealing with, some aspect of that should come to influence the MC in some way.

See this post, and the short Narrative First article linked from it. That should clarify things for you!

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This reminds me of a different but related question I keep meaning to ask:

Can the IC operate in the MC throughline? In other words, exert influence or challenge the MC on points relating to the MC Issue, Problem, etc.?

I think it was listening to a Dramatica user’s group discussion of Ex Machina that got me thinking about this, but I haven’t taken the time to re-listen to pull out the exact example.

That is a fantastic question @Lakis. Here is my understanding anyway…

Since the MC and IC throughlines are just perspectives, the influence or challenge coming from the IC is actually pushing the MC to see their issues in a different light. “Stop worrying about Hope, dude; your real issue is Delay. And you need to stop Controlling so much. Doesn’t my need for Help make you want to be Free?”

So the IC doesn’t operate in the MC throughline so much as push the MC to step outside of that throughline, and see (embrace) the alternate perspective.

However, I don’t think there’s anything stopping the IC player from operating in the MC throughline. I think this can get pretty complicated when trying to look at it analytically though. This happened in my own story, much to my chagrin, but it’s not too bad if you kind of just let it happen and go by feel.

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Okay that’s clarifying (I think).

Maybe it’s my over-literal understanding, but here’s example of the kind of thing that happens to me:

In my story I have a beat that’s supposed to be MC Signpost 1 of Progress. So in this scene/beat, the MC gets an an opportunity to improve his situation by joining the scientists on the farm, and has to figure out how to capitalize on it.

This opportunity, however, is offered by another character (who was just an OS character but who I now think is the IC) – so there’s lots of conversation and underlying conflict about it.

But now that I think about it, there’s also an IC signpost in here too – Preconscious – because the MC only gets offered the job after he jumps in spontaneously to rescue the IC when the IC is mugged. (Which BTW could be an example of something imputed to the IC rather than just an IC behavior … if I’m understanding it correctly).

So i think this is all correct Dramatica-wise now that I work through it. (But let me know if I’m wrong). :slight_smile:

This is interesting. It sort of sounds like this potential IC is influencing your MC’s Situation, but maybe I’m just reading it wrong or don’t have the whole picture. This is the part that jumped out at me:

It’s also a bit weird because you have a preferentially Do-ing MC, then you’d expect the IC to influence him toward Be-ing, but the scenario you gave sounds maybe like the other way around.

How would you describe your MC’s personal issues?

Hmm. You may have hit on a possible contradiction here that I should think about.

The MC is a vet who went AWOL from what he decided was an unjust war. His personal issue at the beginning of the story is that he’s homeless and because of his past has no real way to get back “on the grid” and get a job. That said, in this dystopian world, there are very few jobs anyway and much of the population is hungry.

I’m still trying to work out the opening of the story (especially his throughline) but I am imagining that he goes looking for the professor (the IC) because he thinks there might be an opportunity there – long backstory but his late lover gave him a book on sustainable farming that inspires him to seek out the professor. Maybe he pesters the professor over some days (but is ignored until the day the professor is mugged) or maybe he just happens to show up when the professor is mugged … not quite sure about this.

So I think most of this behavior is Do-er/Universe.

Sounds like your MC throughline is all good; sorry I wasn’t questioning that really, just wanted to know more! Definitely Do-er/Universe, homeless AWOL soldier who needs a job.

The whole seeking out the professor sounds like he’s struggling to make progress in his job hunt, so I think that works well.

As for the IC Signpost, is the MC saving the IC from the mugging sort of taking the MC out of his comfort zone or challenging him to re-evaluate his perspective on his joblessness? Even something like “shoot what did I just do? I should be keeping my head down so the military doesn’t find me but now I just stuck my neck out for this dude?” could work there I think. (Or another option, the IC signpost could come after this…)

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Thanks for the link, I missed the Narrative First article before but it definitely clarifies things. I’m just surprised that none of the analysis I looked up on Dramatica.com have examples of the influence in terms of the signpost. I wonder why that is…

That’s how I understand it as well. What I don’t understand is what operating means in this context:[quote=“mlucas, post:11, topic:1839”]
However, I don’t think there’s anything stopping the IC player from operating in the MC throughline.

Also, I once read that if the MC is a Do-er, the IC is a Be-er and influences the MC to become a Be-er as well. Then I read that all of this wasn’t true. So I got confused and decided to let that issue rest. You bringing in up brought it back to mind. For example, my MC is also a Do-er/Universe and I think at the end of the story she will take up part of the IC’s Be-er approach to solve her inequity. So just to clarify: It should be fine if the MC takes on a more Be-er approach that the IC has influenced him to consider and take on?

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Yes! (Now that you mention it, thanks for that idea!).

This is super helpful – in order for it to be an IC signpost it has to actually challenge his perspective, and that’s a great example (and is already giving me other ideas). Thanks for your help.

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“Player” in the Dramatica sense is what we traditionally think of as a “character” but the player can take on different perspectives depending on the throughline – so for example the player who serves as MC if often also the Protagonist in the OS.

So I think what Mike is saying is that the player who at times serves as IC can also operate in a non-IC way in the MC throughline (right Mike?).

Ah got it :smile:

What I keep on wondering about players, their elements and the throughlines, especially now in this [quote=“Lakis, post:18, topic:1839”]
operate in a non-IC way in the MC throughline
context is how to look at the elements of the players.

Say my OS is in Activity, I create my characters based on the way the elements are ordered in Activity.
Example: Character A (player for MC) with Nonacceptance will be in conflict with character B’s (player for IC) Acceptance. Character X with Evaluation amplifies B’s Acceptance and contrasts/ diminishes A’s Nonacceptance.
If I take the players A and B and let them operate in the MC throughline (Situation) then the characters Y and Z containing Proaction and Reaction are dependent or companion to A and B’s traits.

So if I’m in the MC Signpost of Present can I use character Y and Z in relation to A and B’s traits or can Y and Z’s traits only be illustrated using the characters holding Inaction and Protection? And if I illustrate the character interactions solely based on their positions in Activity, is that keeping them as OS characters?

Not sure if I’m explaining my issue well enough :worried:

Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. And @Niandra note that when another player/character besides the MC acts or operates within the MC throughline, what we mean is that they’re helping to bring the MC’s personal issues to light. They don’t themselves suffer from the same personal issues as the MC (since those are personal to the MC) but they draw out the conflict inherent in the MC’s perspective.

An example might be an MC whose personal issues suffer from guilt around not being able to spend enough time with his children. In this case the children characters themselves, whether or not they also have a significant role in the OS, would be part of the MC throughline. More examples:

  • In Inception, MC Cobb suffers from guilt over his wife Mal’s death. In the OS Mal acts as the Contagonist, always getting in the way of the mission, but also plays a role in the MC throughline where she brings out Mal’s pain and guilt.
  • In The Devil Wears Prada MC Andy’s friends keep reminding Andy of who she was (her personal perspective) before she was influenced by the IC (Miranda Priestley).

Hopefully the above helped that. I also see you’ve posted again while I was drafting this and got called away, so I think you’re okay on that part now.


I believe you are overthinking this. I would focus more on the actual story points – the Problem, Symptom, Response, Issue, Concern, and Domain for each throughline. Don’t worry so much about OS traits until they become obvious to you (oh! this character is always so skeptical especially about anything to do with the story goal, he must be the Skeptic). Do give some consideration to Protagonist and Antagonist, of course…

I believe part of this is that the theory has evolved since many of the analyses on the Dramatica site were written. So a lot of those analysis are coming from older ideas that are probably still correct, but not as fleshed out as the theory is today.

My understanding is that your IC can influence your MC however you want them to. The two main ways I tend to see are 1. The IC says to the MC, ‘you, the MC, are solving your problem like a Psychology problem, but I, The IC, am telling you to solve it like a Physics problem’,and 2. The IC says ‘you, the MC, Are solving your problem like it’s a Psychology problem but I, The IC, am solving my problems like they are Physics problems.’ And then the MC sees how the IC is solving their own problems and considers solving his problems like that.
I’m not sure if that was clear, but it boils down to either the IC tells the MC to change, or the IC says nothing and let’s the MC observe the IC and come to his own conclusion about whether he should change.

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Example 1. The IC says to the Mc, ‘I see you letting those guys bully you. Instead of taking it, you should go up to the biggest one, punch him in the jaw, and kick him in the nuts until you know he’s not going to get up. Then the others will leave you alone.’

Example 2. The IC say, ‘I see you letting those guys bully you. That sucks. But let me tell you about my day. I was making a business deal and the other guy was like, ‘this is what I want’ and started making demands. So I went up to the richest guy and was like, look, you need me more than I need you. So you can take my deal the way I say or I’m out. Not only that, but you’re not going to counter offer and you’re going to thank me for making such a great deal. Then he was like, yeah, and then they all signed on.’
Upon hearing that, the MC says, ‘man, I should be more like that. Tomorrow I’m going to walk up to the biggest bully, punch him in the jaw, and kick him in the nuts until I know he’s not going to get up. Then they’ll all leave me alone.’

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