Which problem quad for an excess of Loyalty?

The title is self-explanatory.
My MC is blinded because the truth which is right in front of his eyes contradicts his loyalty for someone he loves. The bigger is the evidence, the stronger he resists to accept it. It is not bad faith or even conscious but his mind doesn’t want to start getting pulled to what he considers being disloyal.
I don’t have a clue about his Problem characteristic. Actuality ? Perception ?
Does anyone have an idea or a suggestion to how could I turn my questioning differently ?

You may be looking at Loyalty/Disloyalty as the subject matter, versus whatever mental process he’s getting hung up on.

If his main issue has to do with evidence, you might be describing Aware/Self-Aware.

I would ask yourself what the character thinks the problem is and then what direction that leads him. That’ll be your Symptom and Response (Focus and Direction) in Dramatica… but knowing underneath it from YOUR POV, the character only thinks that because of his underlying problem.

If he thinks his problem is what he sees right in front of him, that could possibly be Aware … making the underlying fundamental problem either ability or desire. Either he’s incapable of seeing the problem right in front of his face, or he doesn’t want to see it.

But… caveat… depending on your story, it could be entirely different elements altogether.
I would just ask yourself that first question and keep the specific elements a little open ended until something resonates.


Hi John,

That sounds good to me but what do I do with that ? I mean, what is the subject Matter in terms of Dramatica ? Where should I put it when deciding on my story point ?

To give you a little bit more about the path I am following, here is my first Story Points:

The IC is in Situation (What is so special about your past ?)
The RS is in MANIPULATION (How are we being manipulated ?)
And the GOAL is UNDERSTANDING (That is the flavour I’d like for my story yet I haven’t found exactly what to understand !)

Based on your choices, the MC Issue would be Truth/Evidence/Suspicion/Falsehood – any of which I think could work with your idea.

Just brainstorming – if the Issue is Falsehood (the MC is lying to himself), the Focus/Direction could be Speculation/Projection – consciously he believes that people shouldn’t make “unfounded” accusations (Speculation), because that could ruin a person’s reputation (Projection) (and/or every time he is confronted with evidence, he dismisses it as speculative and projects nefarious motives onto others). The Problem would be Equity – he is unconsciously driven to not “rock the boat”.


Think of subject matter as the “color of paint” you as the Author choose. As far as Dramatica is concerned, it’s the Encoding stage… and you can literally make it anything you want.

Dramatica is concerned with the struggles in regard to what mental process is happening at any given beat in the story, and tracking how that moves focus over the course of the story.

Seeing that your IC is in Situation Past sounds spot on…
That puts the MC in Mind>Memory>Evidence… leaving you to sort out those exact elements I mentioned before.

If you can just answer whether your MC is Changed or Steadfast, Linear/Holistic…
And then the other Plot Dynamics–you’ll have yourself a working Storyform – a map to keep your message on the rails as you write.


Thanks guy, that already gives me a lot to think about.
These has been coming back again and again today, so I guess i am in the right area…
And a Issue of Falsehood sound really good as well.

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Actually, I realise that I made a mistake in my very first post. It is my IC that is dealing with a problem of Loyalty, not the MC.
Although my Story points are OK, so for the IC my choice of Issues is : Fate/Destiny/Prediction/Interdiction.

I like Fate and Destiny as it implies Truth or Falsehood for the MC. and all the story is about that.

But it is my IC who is lying to himself, hmmm…

Gotcha, then yeah… your IC would be dealing with Destiny.

For MC – by the end, does he keep not rocking the boat, or does he start rocking the boat?

And MC in Falsehood, I kinda like that.
Do you mean MC is Change or Steadfast ?
I haven’t decided yet. My MC is a She and that’s all I know !
In fact I am focused on my IC because he is at the source of my main plot idea. And I don’t want to make him my MC because I don’t want to see the events from his POV.

IC stuff is easier to answer anyway.

So maybe focus on whether or not you want the MC to influence the IC to change their point of view or not. Answering either would give you both answers.

Oh yes definitely ! She loves him(the IC) and in order to save him, she will have to change I think.

For the IC, the problem could be Actuality (his Loyalty keeping him to see what is under his nose)
Or should it be Perception ?

So Actuality would be a mental dilemma about seeing things for how they really are… something like:

She needs to see him objectively show her something so she can know the truth about where his loyalties lie, unless the truth is everything is just circumstantial.

Perception would be its own form of that.

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As you suggested John, I have been thinking in terms of Symptom/Response and it has been very helpful. I would like to test this:

My character Peter (the IC) has lost complete memory of his whole life after an unknown event. (The doctor in charge of his therapy is the MC). Finding out what happened to him maybe the Story Goal.

I am trying here to identify the IC problem Quad.
Let’s say that if my character is forgetting the past, it is the Response to something unbearable to him.
Facing the past is exposing him to an impossible truth (his all personal construction as an person is based on a lie) that would destroy his psyche . So he needs to find a way of ignoring it.

What about Chaos/Order working has a Symptom/Response pair ?

Isn’t ‘forget everything’ the best radical strategy to bring back Order ? When the N°1 value of your life collapses in front of your eyes and therefore brings absolute Chaos in your life, it’s a survival strategy.
And every time he is forced to approach this truth, he always uses the same strategy, forget it, erase everything, back to a blank slate.
It’s only when he finds a way of disconnecting the truth from the threat of chaos (when he understand he needs to abandon his unconditional Loyalty) that he can face the Truth in full light.

Following that path, the IC could be in:
Manipulation > Developing a plan > Sense of self vs State of being
with a problem quad of:
Perception/Actuality (crucial element)
Chaos/Order (symptom/response)

Story Goal : The Past

How does it sound ? I kinda thinks it all falls in place, is it not ?

Out of curiosity – how is the problem of Memory something that affects all the characters? It is definitely possible that this describes your story – and it sounds like you for sure have the Concern quad correct but from what you’ve described my first instinct wouldn’t be to put the OS Mind/Memory.

Well, the for me the Story Goal of Past makes more sense and seems easier to find (a past event can easily be connected to all the characters).
But I am confused because my OS is not in Mind/Memory and you seem to assume it is.

Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. Past makes more sense.

And Memories as a consequence works like this:
The therapy conducted by MC on IC is an experiment that would, if proven efficient, heal hundreds of WW1 suffering from amnesia due to PTS

Happy to hear it! Finding out what happened to him would definitely still be Understanding as a Goal.

It sounds like your IC has a problem of Past-ing. That’s where the conflict you’re describing seems to lay. That puts them in Universe (where you originally had him, which I think sounds right).

Figuring out what happened to him may colloquially sound like Conceptualizing, but that element is more like: They have an idea about/for something, but they’re not sure what to do with hit. So the struggle comes in the strategizing or planning of what to do with it. Something like, “Well we have all this ice cream. I guess we could give it to a restaurant? Or maybe we should just eat it ourselves? Will it even keep?” … Problems conceptualizing.

Struggling to find out what happened to him might sound like, “Okay, I was here on this date… with these people, but they say they were somewhere else. But I have this receipt… And this photo of myself. Those match, but the people aren’t there like I thought…” leading him to struggle mentally and probably say "I don’t understand."

Just based on your descriptions so far, I think you were a touch closer with the other elements.

But like some others have voiced up… how does your IC (who sounds an awful lot like a potential protagonist, btw) dealing with a goal of Understanding affect everyone?
If he understands the big picture, does that screw up the plans everyone else was doing or something?

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I have to think about what your saying, but first what do you think of my problem quad and the way I put with the amnesia as a response?

Perception/Actuality (crucial element)
Chaos/Order (symptom/response)

I am not following you there, which path are you following here ? IC in Situation or Manipulation ?