What Concern or Issue would reconciliation fall under?

In my story, everyone, mostly the protagonist (IC), is concerned about getting two characters (antagonist and main character) to reconcile and accept each other. I thought that would make the Overall Story about Manipulation, but I don’t understand whether the issue/Story Goal would be Changing One’s Nature (since the protagonist wants to change the antagonist’s mind to accept the main character, and while that’s going on, he tries to change everyone’s natures for the better) or Playing a Role (the protagonist and antagonist have a relationship that’s been complicated by the main character and the protagonist wants everyone to get along.). If I select Playing a Role, Changing One’s Nature could be the Requirement, which could work-- people changing themselves to make their roles in a family work like the The Rebel Without a Cause goal and requirement examples.

To complicate it further, the Romeo and Juliet example mentions a Story Goal about the friar trying to get the families to reconcile, and that’s listed as Doing, which I did not expect. I don’t know if that’s related to his activity of trying to marry the two, which is lumped in with reconciling the families, or if any reconciliation would be Doing. I suppose some activity would be involved in changing the opinions of people, but one could say that about any Throughline. I’m still fuzzy on the actual steps the characters will go about to achieve this goal, so my Story Form isn’t set in stone.

What do you think?

The short answer is that it could be ANY of them. The right answer is best answered with a questions: How do you WANT it to be explored?

This process is a chicken and egg question. If you already know how you want it to develop, then find the domain, concern, and issue that best lets you explore and illustrate what you have in mind. If you don’t know how you want it to develop, then test out various versions (like I have done below) and see if any spark your interest more than others.

For example, Doing means there are specific activities to be explored in an attempt to reconcile the couple, such as going on a vacation together, or going to couple’s therapy (not what happens in couple’s therapy, just the process of going together), or running marathons, etc.

A Basic Drives and Desires (Subconscious) example might be getting the couple to express their fears or unmet desires, such as revealing fears of intimacy, or attitudes about sex, or having a fear of not measuring up to the standards of what a real relationship should be, etc.

A Present example might be trying to get the couple to focus on the here and now, such as spending more time together, or accepting themselves as a couple, or living together in the same place, etc.

A Changing One’s Nature example might be about trying to change the nature of the relationship, such as getting two independent people to bond as a couple, or change the nature of the couple’s relationship from that of friends to life partners (or vice versa), or getting the couple to develop a more mature relationship instead of a relationship based on who they were when they met, etc.

My last thought on this is to consider which throughline the relationship is best explored. If it is the Overall Story throughline, then EVERYBODY in the story will have an interest in, or present some form of commentary on, the couple’s relationship. If it is the MC/IC Relationship throughline (Subjective Story), then only those directly involved in the couple’s relationship will be party to its issues, and everyone else in the story will be dealing with some other matter.

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Thanks for the fast response!

It’s hard to judge since I’m currently working with just those 3 characters (there are others in back stories that are either dead or don’t have anything to do with this) and I could technically stick them into some external action, but can’t think of anything that I really like since it’s the relationship stuff I was hoping to develop first, then maybe get inspired by whatever Dramatica fills in. Just taking these 3 into consideration, they all have a stake in how they relate to each other.

Your ideas about needing to be Present (the three characters are having fears due to the Past and worries about the Future that get in the way of reconciling, though I suppose I could make the Problem be about Expectation or similar) and Changing One’s Nature (basically similar to all of your suggestions on the topic) are the closest to what I was thinking for Overall Story. I would think that being present would be a Benchmark and/or be the inspiration for the solution element since they don’t yet realize that recalling past grudges and worrying about the future is causing their problems.

Edit: If it makes any difference, I’m not necessarily using “protagonist” and “antagonist” as archetypes, but to mean who is for or against the goal of reconciling. The Main Character is likely against it as well at first, but then wants to gain the antagonist’s acceptance for his own reasons.

Something else bothers me. If the Story Goal is reconciliation, does that make the Overall Story Problem Non-acceptance since that’s the opposite of the goal, or is the Overall Story Problem the thing that prevents the characters from reaching the Story Goal (such as the characters trying too hard to Control their futures, or main character and antagonist Disbelieving that the main character is any good, an opinion that the protagonist disagrees with) which requires acceptance?

If Non-acceptance was the problem, it seems like it’d be pretty clear to the Main Character, who shouldn’t know what the problem is so soon, unless I use it in the sense that he must learn to Accept himself before the antagonist will Accept him, completing the Story Goal.

That was my first thought, too, but the Problem doesn’t have to be Non-acceptance. Again, it really depends on the Concern and the Issue. If the Issue is, say, Openness, then the Problem has to be something like Reconsider or Disbelief. If it’s Suspicion, then the Problem could be Inertia or Chaos, for example. If Non-acceptance is how you see the story framed, then yeah, go for it. But in my second example, what matters is less how you solve the tension (the Methodology) and more why the tension exists (the Purpose). That’s one of the really cool things about Dramatica: a given story can be framed one thousand different ways, each with a different argument.

First, @SharkCat, just to clarify the most-basic of Dramatica questions: Do you want your Main Character to Resolve to a significant view Change or to conclude Steadfast in his/her core views?

Second, in Dramatica Theory, the terms “Protagonist” and “Antagonist” describe character functions in the Overall Story throughline, while “Main Character” and “Impact Character” describe character functions in the subjective Relationship Story throughline. So you’re kind of tangling up your terms and functions.

Plus, you really haven’t given us any idea about your Overall Story — which almost always has to involve more characters than the Relationship Story does (the latter is about your Grand-Argument Story’s core thematic relationship, while the former is about something in which all the Grand-Argument Story’s characters are involved).

So it’s in the latter, all-characters Overall Story where your Protagonist and Antagonist fight out their external battles, while it’s in the Relationship Story where the MC and IC fight out their internal conflicts.

Therefore, why don’t you tell us more about that Overall-Story, all-characters contest, in the midst of which the MC and the IC (the latter of which you have yet to identify) are fighting out their own internal battle while also participating in the larger external contest?

And what matters so much about this couple’s reconciliation (which you have made so central in your previous comments)?

Are they rival rulers, so only their reconciliation can bring about peace between their warring countries/gangs/companies/neighborhoods? Are they children of rival rulers, like Romeo and Juliet?

(Who, as young lovers, had no reconciliation problems at all; their Relationship Story would have been quite congenial, if only their families could’ve have stopped feuding, which is the Overall Story of that piece.)

Does each of them hold one-half of a disease-healing formula, which can’t be released to aid the public until they get reconciled and collaborate?.. (I’m just trying to help you clarify more of the stakes regarding this reconciliation, and why it should matter to an audience…)

Well, hope this adds to your food for thought, SharkCat

Do you want your Main Character to Resolve to a significant view Change or to conclude Steadfast in his/her core views?

I want my MC to Change, and also for the Judgement to be Good.

The Protagonist would also be the Influence Character. By Antagonist and Protagonist, I was referring to the Overall story if it’s about the Pro/IC trying to get the MC and Antag to reconcile. If I think of a more appropriate Overall Story, their Objective roles may change.

I’m honestly not sure what I should do with the Overall Story and have been frustrated with that aspect for a while. Since I intended it to be a romance, I wanted to emphasize the characters and their interactions. I wondered if I was over-complicating things by not just making the Overall Story about reconciliation and determining the action from the characters trying to achieve/thwart that. Before researching Dramatica, I was also afraid of having an Overall Story drown out the relationship stuff and the issues at the heart of the story. Though there are some fantastical elements, I don’t want it to turn into some kind of race to save the world against secret demon armies kind of thing.

The currently designated Antag and MC used to be the same person before a “mad” doctor’s experiment divided him long ago. They lived drastically different lives (MC finds temporary peace by Avoiding the world, Antag faces fear and hardships and comes out stronger) before Pro/IC discovers MC and introduces him to Antag. Antag rejects MC because of events in the Past and fears about the Future, so MC feels he must prove his worth by winning over Antag. Antag would rather Avoid the whole thing. P/I is in a love triangle with both and thinks its unhealthy to reject part of oneself. I want the change to be about learning to Accept one’s imperfect self in the Present as opposed to regretting the Past and fearing the Future, but I feel like that’s something all three ought to learn rather than just the MC.

Every other Overall Story idea I’ve come up with has problems. Some have holes in logic, for instance, if I want a world to be like our own, but the mad doctor used magic in her scientifically unrealistic experiment (to make it more believable), how could I believably keep people from knowing that magic exists and thus drastically changing the setting to something possibly less relatable? Some ideas seem like they would be dull and difficult for me to write in an interesting way such as trying to improve the fish-out-of-water MC’s self-worth by getting him a job, coming up with an invention, trying to get famous, participating in a band, or tracking down the reclusive doctor’s lost notes which detail the world-changing procedure. Others could be exciting, but I don’t think I could pull off such as having characters involved in a murder mystery.

Okay, with the “mad doctor” dividing a character into two characters, it sure sounds like we have some kind of sci-fi or fantasy story here (another iteration of Jekyll & Hyde?)! But whatever genre you set it in, I still need some basic, clarifying answers:

So, are your MC and Antagonist both male? And is the Protagonist/IC male or female? (You mention “a love triangle,” but that doesn’t necessarily narrow the options down much!) So, are there any females among these three characters?

And what will happen in the rest of the world if the two halves of this divided character don’t reconcile?

A few disappointed friends? A messed-up social circle? Confusion about which half to invite over for a holiday party?

Or something more impactful, like the Protagonist-reconciler losing his/her “only chance at love”? Or having his/her life threatened by either an out-of-control MC or Antagonist, or both?

Or the MC’s company/empire/venture failing and people losing their jobs and security? Or a town/nation/world at war, because this character divided against itself has so much self-hatred that it cannot tolerate the idea of reconciliation?

Basically, in whatever world where they exist, these three characters should have at least some connection to a larger world where reconciling (or failing to reconcile) this two-halved character into one will make some dramatic difference that an audience can see.

And don’t worry about constructing a “perfect” Overall Story at this point! Answer some of my questions above, and your ideas on the OS should begin to blossom toward a useable version…

They’re all male and there’s no murderous Mr. Hyde type, though others could be in danger due to side effects. The doctor who did it was female, but is dead. She doesn’t have to be if she used any magic or suspiciously magic-like “science” (not sure which way to go) on herself, but I’m not sure how else to believably preserve a world that’s mostly like our own.

I can come up with internal stakes (loss of feeling loved, bad self-worth, remaining victim to anxiety), but I’m not sure about external stakes-- my tendency is to think of extreme ones (save/change the world, life or death, prevent family from being murdered) or think of ordinary ones that I’m not sure people will care about if it’s not a life or death matter. For instance, if jobs and a company that does a lot of good might be lost because Antag and MC can’t work together, why can’t the people involved, in a setting much like our own world, get new jobs? Maybe it would be difficult and could destroy their confidence, but it won’t kill them or (likely) starve their families. It’s sad, but lots of people have lost jobs.

If Pro/IC had his life in danger, would the consequences have to have an effect on a large amount of people to be sufficient enough to be a stake?

Oh, indeed, “lots of people have lost jobs,” @SharkCat! But if times are hard (which they always are, for some people) and any of those employees have sick or malnourished children, the stakes of losing their jobs just rose appreciably (e.g., look at Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, and many other desperate-times stories across the ages).

Also, an impact on relatives (siblings, parents, children, even aunts, uncles and cousins) can be quite enough to make the stakes matter to most audiences:

If I’m the sister, aunt, or any “only living relative” of the Antagonist, and I learn that my old-age financial support might be usurped by another “half” of that Antagonist, I too would strongly resist the two of them getting back together. Many a dramatic mystery has been based on such.

And see, I just suggested a mashup genre to throw in: A sci-fi mystery, that involves the MC trying to learn about his forgotten-by-him past as “a whole.” So he’s driven to learn about this past because some strangers keep trying to harm him.

And why? After several narrow escapes and investigations, he learns that these people fear how his returning to “wholeness” might cut off their financial security.

So I haven’t added any more than two to four characters, but this still does give us an Overall Story — “Battling Over Antag’s Wealth” — that involves all these characters in dramatic ways.

Finally, remember that every great story has a bit of “game” or “contest” to it.

So no matter what your contest/game/story is purportedly about (Obtaining, Understanding, The Past, or any of the other Dramatica Concerns), you’re setting up that one of the major obstacles preventing any character from winning this contest is the alienation and estrangement between the Antagonist and the Main Character.

And that Non-Acceptance could very well be the Problem lurking beneath and muddying up all the other efforts to Obtain, Understand, Play a Role, explore The Past, etc. (I’m essentially affirming your idea that the Problem is something like Non-Acceptance.)

Along with that, in my speculative version of your storyform, I set the MC as a Be-er (he’s “avoiding the world”), and the Story Goal as “Conceiving an Idea” (in a world where personalities and bodies can be split into two, but most people can’t imagine such, there will be a huge need for the ability to conceive such an idea).

Again, I’m speculating wildly based on your abstract references. But I’m just trying to inspire you to spend less time in Dramatica frustration and instead brainstorm more possiblities!

I’m curious as to how would that work as a Story Goal. I thought that a Conceiving an Idea Story Goal would be something like a guy works for a toy company and needs to come up with the next great idea. He struggles, but in the end comes up with a great idea and the company loves it and the story ends. I have trouble imagining it as being an end rather than a means to an end.

I’m hoping if I can figure out the Storyform, I can then brainstorm from whatever is filled in for the Overall Story. If all the characters suffer from difficulty in living in the Present (ex. Antag fears getting too close to others due to Past memories of outliving loved ones and fears suffering likewise in the Future, IC and MC may struggle with the effects of envy on their self-worth and thus fear for their Futures because of Past disappointments such as IC getting disowned for dropping out of college and MC running away and getting involved with the experiment because he thought his undiagnosed anxiety disorder destroyed his father’s restaurant), I wonder if that Problem might also be Accept.

@SharkCat, I think you are conceptualizing too narrowly about “Conceiving an Idea” :-). To help with that, I suggest you go to the Analysis Filter at Dramatica.comhttp://dramatica.com/analysis/filter

There, under “Overall Story” (about halfway down the page) select “Concern.” Then, under “Value,” select “Conceptualizing” (another name for Conceiving an Idea). Then click on the “Search” button just below that.

The site should next pull up images and information for at least 19 classic stories that have an OS Concern/Goal of Conceptualizing/Conceiving an Idea. And many of them apply the term more broadly than you do with your “toy inventor” idea.

If most everybody in your story comes to feel held up or “stuck” because of this one-man-became-two concept, then everybody accepting that idea (“Conceiving” that such a thing could actually be possible) seems like it might be the Story’s Goal (and thus everyone’s Concern, even if they can’t quite admit it to themselves).

Of course this means that those opposed to the two halves reconciling will not only try to keep them apart, but will also try and sell the idea that such a separation of a person is an impossible delusion.

These opposers will fight the Conceptualizing/Conceiving of such an idea, and try to make it sound like a heinous or preposterous thing, just to win over those whose conceptualizing is “on the fence.”

But of course, there’s so much I DON’T KNOW about your story, so the OS Concern/Goal could be something else altogether.

For now, it does sound like you’ve got some more-specific Overall-Story details appearing, what with financially-related plot items about “dropping out of college” and “destroying the father’s restaurant.” That’s definitely progress! And I hope you’ll spend more time studying the Story Examples available at the Dramatica.com website (many of which are in the Dramatica software).

Thanks! I hadn’t been sure if we could show the result of Conceiving an Idea without it turning into some other Concern.

I had gotten this to some extent before, but never completely until your explanation above. This could mean that Protagonist and Antagonist in the Overall Story are not the MC and IC in the relationship story? Have you ever come across that in stories?

Oh, definitely. Happens all the time. The most common example on this site is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Atticus is the Protagonist, the prosecution (whose name I do not remember) is the Antagonist, Scout is the Main Character, and Boo Radley is the Impact Character.

Of course… and that is the textbook example. And I knew that. It just never occurs to me to write a story that way. I realize Dramatica provides the ultimate license in freeing one up to do that… But for some reason I never got it through my thick noggin’ until now. Aha moment. Call Oprah.

Don’t feel bad, I read so much theory that I had to go back to figure out exactly what the Argument in the Grand Argument Story is supposed to be (it’s in proving the Overall Story Solution over its Dynamic Pair, right?).

Right you both are, SharkCat and MiggsEye!

great summary! Thanks for summarizing it this way.

Four years later, it should be understood that this is incorrect.

The Relationship Story Throughline is not about the Main Character or the Influence Character.

It’s about the Relationship.

Which can or CANNOT feature both or neither the Main Character nor Influence Character.