Using Subtext to break down Star Wars: A New Hope

Hi all,

I’ve been dipping into Dramatica on and off for a few months now, and have just recently started to dive deeper into it all, also using Subtext, in preparation for writing my own things.

I thought it would be a useful exercise for me to work out how a Subtext treatment translates into a finished product, by attempting to build one up of a movie i know well (Star Wars), and then matching the story beats to the final scenes of the film, which i have attached here. The second sheet is the treatment from Subtext, using the analysis from Star Wars, and choosing gists that i think apply (gists are in square brackets). The first sheet is the mapping of the different story beats onto the list of scenes in the movie.

Having done this, it now seems that the actual storybeats are incorporated into a minority of scenes, so i guess what i’m wondering is:

  • have I done it right, firstly (the ones with asterixes next to them i’m the least confident about)?
  • are all the scenes that don’t incorporate storybeats just plot, worldbuilding, character development etc.? (I can see that Han goes through a character resolve change, so that’s a clear sub-plot, but Leia, Vader, the droids etc don’t seem to grow at all).
  • if yes, is this just because this is typical of the action/adventure genre, and the other scenes are just generally about the OS throughline (Doing, Physics etc.)?

I have further questions but i’d be interested to see if i’m on the right track so far.


I think this is a fascinating exercise.

One thing to consider is all the other Dramatica appreciations (I believe they are called)

Does this fragment/beat address the overall story problem for example? MC Concern? MC Benchmark? MC Symptom. Which I believe if you followed the theory to a theoretical T should be addressed once per act. Obvious that would be overkill but I imagine these types of points should be spread out throughout the script/movie.

Furthermore you also could consider where the Plot Sequence Report comes into play.

Thanks for the reply!
I did feel like something was missing, but the Subtext treatment only has the items from the second sheet of the document i posted.
Is the Plot Sequence Report something from the Dramatica software? I don’t have it or the book with me right now unfortunately.

I think to do this properly you should use Subtext’s PSR feature as @narrativebeast suggests and the “Breakdown Beats” capabilities in Subtext. You might not need to breakdown beats for all the throughlines (OS is definitely way more developed than RS in Star Wars), but you can experiment with it to see if the PSR variations still fit.

An example is that OS Act 1 Understanding is explored in terms of Permission, Need, Expediency, and Deficiency. The scene between Leia and Vader definitely shows the impact of doing something that isn’t permitted… (while coming to a new understanding of the rules of the galaxy now)
Leia: “The imperial senate will not sit for this, when they hear you’ve attacked a diplomatic–”
Vader: “You passed directly through a restricted system.”

Leia’s recorded hologram, when played by R2, probably demonstrates Need (“help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope”), as Luke tries to grasp what’s going on.

Yes, you would have to export the PSR report from Dramatica (requires a purchased copy) and load it into Subtext.

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Brilliant, thanks!
I have worked out the PSR and the Subtext breakdown beats function, so when i get time i’ll work on adding any ones i find to the mapping.


Don’t forget that the entire plot wouldn’t have happened if Uncle Owen didn’t feel that they needed some new droids for his moisture farm–especially one that speaks bocce. He also felt he needed Luke for another harvest which kept him around when the storm troopers hit.

side note: I’m guessing a moisture harvest would be something like a Tatooine rainy (slightly humid) season?


In practice, these additional Storypoints add to a narrative rather than help build a foundation for a narrative.

I have yet to hear of an Author who went through and figured out every single Storypoint in every single Throughline, made sure it appeared in each and every Act, and then actually finished their story.

They do the first two, but inevitably get burned out doing the last.

That’s why I left them out of Subtext.

Those additional Storypoints are great when you get lost or if you’re having trouble understanding where a Throughline is coming from, but if you want something that you can start writing from immediately - the Signposts, and to a certain extent the Storybeats underneath (the Plot Sequence Report) are really all you need.

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Keep going!

The demand leads to what Luke should and shouldn’t do…(Expediency) and then ends with just a wee bit of Deficiency (bye bye BBQ) :laughing:


Also, don’t forget the secondary sub-storyform featuring Han as MC and Luke as IC…

And when you’re done, I’d love to put it into Subtext :slight_smile:


I’m on it boss. haha

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Sorry this took so long! I’ve been overseas, swamped with work and sick!

I have completed the main story with further broken down links. Please have a read and let me know what you think!

I am starting on the Han sub-story now.



That was super quick and easy! You think there’s so little to that storyline but it all fits so easily! (of course could well have made mistakes).

Anyone interested please check this out too, it’s now on the same file

Can’t recommend this exercise enough for really helping learn Dramatica!

I also just did some initial work on the character quads for both story lines if anyone is interested in discussing that.

  • interesting how Leia (if i’m correct) represents two totally different elements in the two stories. In Han’s story, she thinks his ideas and attitude are a bit crap, and actively hijacks the escape attempt, so i think oppose and disbelief work
  • Greedo seems to represent a number of elements in just one scene! I think he is quite clearly the contagonist, as he is not acting in Jabba’s interest in the scene and just wants the money for himself.
  • I was unsure from the book how Vader could be temptation when he doesn’t even meet Luke in this movie, but then i realised it is what he represents rather than what he does necessarily, though it is clearly a stronger thing in the next two movies. Alternatively, the only real time Luke seems to be confronted with temptation is when Han proposes he goes with him and leaves the Rebellion, though he doesn’t consider it even for a second (which i guess is a prerequisite for temptation).
  • does Uncontrolled fit anywhere in the Han story?
  • i’m confused with Jabba, as once he and Han have a chat in Act 1 (of that storyline), they aren’t really at odds with each other, and in theory both want Han to succeed. Maybe this is why Greedo seems to represent both the Contagonist and Antagonist elements even though he is removed pretty quickly. Is the Rebellion (including L&L) the antagonist?! It’s the only group that really wants Han to stay and not pay Jabba back. (of course this only counts if you think that Jabba scene should even be there haha). In other movies when someone is forcing the hero to do something for them, there’s still usually another party preventing the hero from achieving the goal, but then i guess that goal isn’t the real goal (which would be to repay the debt, or save the hostage or whatever). Thoughts please!

Once this is done i want to look at ESB, RotJ, IJatLC, the Matrix and Spirited Away! Any ideas anyone has for any of this stuff on New Hope would be cool to hear.


Very cool! Looking at your analysis, I think the 4th Story Driver (labelled 2nd Plot Point) is the whole escape from the Death Star, probably starting from Obi-Wan’s death. The presence of the tracker on the Millenium Falcon would be Knowledge while Doing, (good-guys not knowing it’s there, imperials knowing their location).

Then the TIE fighter attack and the “they let us go” conflict between Han and Leia would be Rationalization while Obtaining – the TIE fighter attack was a cover-up, and the real reason they got away was because the Empire is tracking them.

Just off the top of my head, when he fights and kills Obi-Wan this tempts Luke to face him, but then Obi-Wan’s conscience steps in to counteract this: “Run, Luke, run!” But you’re right, he only has to represent Temptation in relation to the Goal, he doesn’t have to specifically tempt the Protagonist.


Yeah, you’re right, i wrote that the escape was the plot point, but just put it a bit lower than where it should go

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When I was reading this, all could think of was when Han is running into the room with all the stormtroopers and frantically shooting at them. :laughing:

In all seriousness, I really love this analysis! I’ll need some time to dive into it deeper so I can fully appreciate it! Thank you so much for doing this.

Yes, yes, yes! :grinning:

I’m actually going to work on all the character relationships next (motivations, methodologies, purposes, evaluations), i think that will be very helpful in pulling all the other characters in.

Then some of the other things @narrativebeast bought up

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Haha this is true, though that part of the story is more the main storyline, where Chewbacca represents uncontrolled (“Let the Wookie win”). It may just be missing as the whole sub-story only represents a small minority of the whole movie

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Hi all. I’m struggling a bit with the Character Interactions.
According to Dramatica, the interactions basically completely separate the characters into two groups:

  • Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, the Empire
  • Han, the Droids, Vader, Obi-Wan
    Now, given i thought that character interactions were the heart of the story, this is confusing me – Luke and Obi-Wan for example don’t have any interactions in the Player Characteristics report, despite them being MC and IC?!?! Other characters that barely interact should have multiple levels of interaction according to the output on each of methodology, motivation, evaluation and purpose.

Am i wrong in thinking this is a core part of a Dramatica story, or am i looking at it all wrong?