What is the MC?

So, I think this is what you’re asking…
The analogy that helps me is simply “Analogy” itself.

What I mean by that is: I ask myself a really basic question about my story/characters to both get to those universal dilemmas and to double-check if my argument is relatable.

I’ll just rephrase the point of whichever throughline I’m looking at by saying "You know, it’s like when ____ "

It then becomes so much easier to detach myself from the Players or specific Relationships in that throughline. I can usually transpose the idea of the argument to something in my own life, or anyone else’s life.

You’re writing a story about a hobbit that must destroy an evil ring of power, but the closer he gets to destroying the ring the more he falls in love with it.

And then I say, “You know, it’s like when you have to quit something that’s bad for you, but the closer you get to doing it, the more you just want to hold on to it…”
Huh… I guess what I’m really saying is that “People need to get rid of dangerous things before it ruins their life… Except attachment to things makes them precious to you, bringing feelings of security”
(And I could be talking about ANYTHING here… smoking, credit cards, too much chocolate cake…)

And you start to see how when you get to the universal truth beneath your writing, the “characters” can basically fall away. It becomes really easy to see them as big metaphors for that POV. You’re able to relate it to a number of tangible things that anyone can feel. And I’d argue, you’re evoking the same feeling in an audience has with whatever it is in their life they struggle to get rid of when you show them your hobbit and his precious ring.

For me, taking a moment to analyze my writing like that works to my advantage as a writer. I’ll have a better understanding about subtle word choices to use to relate my story… metaphors, real life analogies, etc. etc.


I see what you mean.

Would i be correct to say, then, that the analogy of a mind solving a problem is exactly this? Which ends up being the premise, divided into 4 branches.

So in this vein, would it be necessary for the overarching 4 conflicts to be tied to an “angle on” the premise itself…


with 4 sub conflicts related to dangerous things or ruining lives or attachments or security.

Or is it by nature connected because of the associated concern/ issue/ etc?

AND one more Q: as I look at your premise I sort of see all four throughlines in there.

Yes, definitely sheds light on what’s going on. One of the best analogies yet. Thank you.

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So, the example I gave would be just for the OS or MC. I’m sure the actual example from LOTR would be different … but my example was for illustrative purposes to convey how I stop thinking about characters as people and learn to love the conflict beneath.

EDIT: The dilemmas with the IC and RS would look very different than that of the OS or MC. The RS would speak to a dilemma with a growing relationship, and the IC would speak to a perspective that’s to do with looking at the “You” part of the Mind.

As far as the througlines/sources of conflict being connected… it’s less that they’re subdivisions of the larger one, and more that they’re related due to their position in the Concern quads.

There’s an appreciation to be had at each level: Domain, Concern, Issue, Problem, as well as each story beat. Each with their own dilemmas which when the Mind processes, in that order, will mean something to whomever appreciates it.

This might not be EXACTLY what Dramatica defines the StoryMind as, but it’s best way I’ve come to understand the term/concept:

  • An author has something they want to say, but it’s in their mind.
  • They then encode that idea in some medium, which has the ability to hold onto the Narrative Argument outside of the Author’s mind. And one can call it a Story Mind.
  • Someone picks up a book, watches a play, takes in a movie… and is exposed to the Story Mind, allowing them to appreciate (understand) what was originally just in the Author’s mind.

Storytelling is telepathy.


Thank you. This is helpful.

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Matt Brad doesn’t make a reference in his book. But Heart, Gut and Head could refer to the Triads or the Centres in the Enneagram theory.


The Enneagram describes different groups of behaviours and characteristics and could be used for identifying the character of the MC and/or Protagonist.

In Enneagram there are 9 types.

If you don’t know the type of your Protagonist or don’t have a glue yet about the Antagonist and other players the Enneagram might help:

Example: When your Protagonist is a Type 7 (Problem of PURSUIT … Options, Adventure, Fun)

  • Type 1 as Antagonist (1 focus on Perfection and is the Stress-Point of 7)
  • Type 4 as Influence (4 focus on Uniqueness, arrive at the same place by variant processes)
  • Type 3 as Sidekick (3 focus on Success, both types have similar modes of expression)
  • Type 6 as Guardian (6 focus on Security, parent-child-feeling)
  • Type 9 as Reason (9 focus on Harmony, prefer similar climates without having much in common)
  • Type 5 as Skeptic (5 focus on Insight, a puzzle and totally foreign in nearly every facet)

A mapping of Dramatica Elements with Enneagram types you can find here:

On the web there is a lot of material. Two books I can recommend working with Dramatica (no commercial interests from my side):

  • Thomas Condon, The Enneagram Movie Guide
  • Jens Becker, Script-Tool: Enneagram 2.0

Oh wow, cool @Gernot. I remember seeing that original post a while ago but not digging into it. I’ll have to circle back on this.

This is a great thread. And @JohnDusenberry, your method is so cool. Reminds me of my favorite author: Brandon Sanderson. He says he figures out his plot and structure, then free-writes his characters for them to fit the roles he’s set. And he takes no prisoners. He’ll swap out station, gender, anything the worldbuilding accommodates so he can get the right fit.

In my understanding, so far, I’ve learned one crucial thing with Dramatica, and that’s TRUST.

I trust that a storyform no matter what shape, is a complete story. This is what helps me get through the process.

A humble request, no, a plea (with tears n snot and all of that).

@JohnDusenberry, @mlucas, @jhull, @jhay and the other long-form story lovers, can we work together to breakdown a masterwork like
It’s one of the proofs of concept that is still missing around here.

If we pulled it off, it’ll be such a revelation for EVERYONE in the forum, and really a massive boon for Dramatica as a theory, especially where argument/confusion comes up.

Tracy Hickman( known for his Dragon Lance series) did some surface domain breakdown way back, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere now.

Guys…it will be so epic. To see the structure, the weaving, the telling… Some of us can take on individual scenes and break those down with KTAD, PASS, PRCO/P…
We don’t have to do all the scenes. Just a few. 5 maybe? And the rest of the guys or even newcomers can use the rest of the material for practice.

It’s a crap tonne of work, I know, but think about it. Heck, if it’s something we (well, I, and I’m sure some others) need to pay for, I’ll do it.

Please let’s consider this. Even if it’s the only breakdown we do this year. It’ll be well worth it.


That’s interesting. I remember watching a few of his videos on YouTube. Never read his work though.

As much as I use this technique, I almost always develop my principle characters first, often write a rough draft, and then use Subtext to “clean it up,” make things more airtight, or fill in any missing pieces.

I come from a more creative background, went to film school and trained to become an animator and story artist. I think just from a more creative/intuitive stance, I would urge writers to NOT think about all this stuff first and just write. Free-form.

You definitely CAN use Subtext/Dramatica to generate a creative work. I’ve found that some writers who are just starting out or don’t have as strong of an intuitive sense of story or character work the other way around — structure/plot first… then everything conforms to that.

RE: LOTR, I would love to. It’s my favorite story of all time for sure.
It’s definitely a herculean task, and things get complex.

Fellowship, Two Tower, and Return of the King definitely would have their own storyforms, if not multiple storyforms within each. Two Towers for sure has at least two major storyforms, and the Trilogy/Complete Book itself has at LEAST one storyform.

I think the new developing questions on Subtext will help make quick work of the films, but I’m not sure @jhull is totally satisfied with them yet. I’ve been trying to come up with versions of them myself…

All this being said, I think the overall story for the trilogy is pretty simple/straightforward. If I had to wager a guess:

The main story is between MC Frodo and IC Sam (Edit: Possibly Gollum??)
MC probably in Progress, maybe Future.
IC probably in PreConscious, maybe SubConscious
OS probably in Obtaining, maybe Doing (Possessing/Getting rid of the Ring of Power).
Which would put the RS in Being or Becoming…
Action Driver
Option lock
Changed MC

… but that convo should be another thread :slight_smile:

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@Khodu I think you joined this thread at some point – did you ever read through to the end? I felt pretty good about the storyform @mlucas and I were circling around but I’m not sure others agreed. We could start a new thread though. Of course there are no doubt stubstories in LOTRs.

FYI @JohnDusenberry


I definitely saw that thread… was a lot to digest.

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Indeed @JohnDusenberry . You NEEEED to read some of his books. I’ll recommend Mistborn to start with.
It’s a story where In Brandon’s words “The hero fails and 1000 years later a gang of thieves plan a crazy heist to rob him” It’s got everything: Awesome fights, Amazing magic system, Deeeeep plot, a complete storyform chock full of MAMs. I mean MAM’s for dayz! It’s got Everything!

And @Lakis . Thanks for reminding me. I did,in fact.

I think we can create a new Thread dedicated to TLOTR Trilogy.

I’ll watch The Fellowship of the Ring tonight and paste my findings.

Thanks guys.


What’s a MAM? Don’t think I’ve seen that

@Khodu I’m extremely unfamiliar with TLOTR books or movies (I think I saw the first one… maybe…), so I wouldn’t have anything to add to the analysis, but I would absolutely read through the threads. Sounds like it would be a very interesting project!

Plus, I’m doing my best to wrap my head around justifications and real conflict, so I’m not sure I could also handle trying to digest TLOTR and analyse it at the same time. :sweat_smile:

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I feel like Jim might have to split some of these posts into a different topic :slight_smile: but anyway…

I actually feel quite confident in that storyform as I’ve thought about it a few times since then and it always seems a perfect fit. The only thing I’m not 100% sure about is whether the Problem quad might be rotated, but I’m like 95% sure the Problem is Disbelief and the Symptom is Temptation. It really fits everything from the scenes fleeing the Shire to the crags of Mount Doom. (How many times does Gandalf warn people not to be tempted, nor to tempt him? etc.)

I think Fellowship probably has its own substory (ending in Failure and probably Bad) but not sure about the other two. (Or it may just be that I focused so hard on seeing the trilogy storyform that it’s now hard to notice others!) And I could see the possibility of a substory with Aragorn as a principal character that spans the trilogy.


“multi-appreciation moments” (I believe Melanie uses this term?) (unless you meant something else @Khodu)


Years ago, I went to a workshop in Portland, Oregon (I live there) where a writers’ organization brought in Melanie to give an instructive talk. After putting the attendants through many steps of many things with the theory, the point was made/demonstrated that a piece of writing was stronger if many storyforming [theory] points ended up (joined) on one spot. Those could continue on their own through the story, but lots, many, a lot of them coming together in one dialogue, moment, activity, sentence, somethingorother made a stronger writing. The more that met on the same spot made a stronger story. Maybe, that? I’m reaching back over a few decades of memory, here.


Would you be so kind as to spare me searching threads and drop or PM the story form you think it is?

Hi @MWollaeger. Multi Appreciation Moment.
Those areas of the story where some story points interweave and you get all sorts of contexts, interpretations, foreshadowing etc… Those moments.

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The ‘Mind’, or ‘Story Mind’, is the idea that a single human mind is trying to resolve a single inequity using the tools and perspectives available to it. Those include:

  • Four perspectives from which to examine the inequity: I, You, We, They

  • Four areas [domains] in which the inequity may exist

  • Multiple levels of resolution at which the effects of the inequity may be observed (Class/Types/Variations/Elemements)

  • Multiple points of reference (story points) that provide loci in which specific ‘meaning in context’ may be found

  • Temporal stages describing the process of resolving the inequity

  • …and much more, all organized to identify, explore, and resolve a single inequity

How is his relevant to narratives? We believe that stories have evolved an underlying structure and set of dynamics that mirror the mechanisms, methodologies, and standards of evaluation of the ‘Story Mind’, expressing the abstract exploration of the ‘Story Mind’ through characters, plots, themes, and genres as they involve the storyforming, storyencoding, storyweaving, and story reception processes and techniques.

Or as Mike W. says, “100% don’t worry about it” – [‘it’ being the above]. :slight_smile: