Why I Think This is The Best Article on NF

As I was working on my own project I stumbled back into this old article by JH. At the time I was getting frustrated (not really) that my story wasn’t fitting into the story form that it was set out to be and I felt I needed to restructure it all over again (and again. And again. And again).

Eventually this process started to reverse and I was writing more and more and caring less about the story form. Only going back into my dramatica software to guess or I should say, entertain myself on what storyform was perspiring out to be. (Yes, perspiring). When I realized:

If dramatica is about a mind solving a single problem… don’t I have a mind? And wouldn’t the software already be installed in my head? A glowing lightbulb.

From all these successful and dubbed “full” stories already out there that didn’t use dramatica, you’d think if these geniuses didn’t need dramatica than why should I?

Why shouldn’t I think myself a genius too?

And that’s when I stumbled upon that article. It was like a validation for me to use dramatica as a playground. Something where I’d go back and forth and not care if it was right or wrong — and if I felt like there was something missing, a beat, a scene, a different element or variation, I could simply plug in what I had down and viola it would spit out something that, at least to me that moment, felt right for the story. Of course it would change later but I could now continue solving the problem.

I know this may seem a little obvious to most but to me it was a game changer. And I hope anyone else new to dramatica won’t get tied up in the details like I did and… simply… just… start… writing…

Cliff notes:
Your mind is already a problem solving machine.
And dramatica is already installed in your brain.
So don’t worry. Get writing and it’ll solve itself.


YES! I wish I could double- or triple-heart your post.

For me, the proof was in writing a novel using the storyform (which I had determined about 10% into the first draft), but then having two separate sub-stories crop up magically on their own. And then finding, once my first draft was complete, that both of those sub-stories had complete storyforms of their own!


Love this!!!

I have gone through this process myself. Maybe it’s something many of us just have to go through learning Dramatica – that point where you’re obsessing if that idea for the scene “correctly” encodes a Variation of Rationalization while Conceiving…

But, as @mlucas said, when you’ve written something “complete” without using Dramatica, you realize it’s all in there.

Use Dramatica (and Subtext) as invaluable tools, but don’t become a slave to what you assume the theory is telling you…


And this is why I think this is the best post on Discuss Dramatica–not just because of the link to an article I wrote (which is always appreciated!), but moreso this whole idea that we already have Dramatica installed in our brains!!

That’s such a SIMPLE and POWERFUL analogy–what’s more, it’s ACCURATE.

That’s why everyone universally knows when a series on Netflix stinks or a movie isn’t worth heading to the theaters for–we all instinctively know story, we just don’t all share the same talent for storytelling.

Dramatica is already installed in our brains…awesome.


Yes! It’s like the obsession to make it correct/perfect; like you’re Syler from Heroes except here you’re killing your darlings (aka scenes) (as opposed to people); in order to understand your story (as opposed to a pocket watch). lol

Thanks for sharing guys!

@jhull I should have noted SUBTEXT in there as well >< shoot.
Usually that bad boy is open on the next tab ready to look up the 10th definition
that I needed in the last minute. lol.


I first used Dramatica on a story I had been thinking about and working on for a while. I had a relatively good grasp on the underlying drives and concepts of what I was trying to write but knew Dramatica would help and change my writing, and thinking, in ways I did not yet know.

The excitement I felt when, having answered the 12 questions to set up a story form, all the other aspects of my story, from IC, to RS, critical flaw to costs and requirements,and many more, were all there as I had already though or illustrated them, as if Dramatica knew my story better than I did already, as if Dramatica had read my story or predicted where it was heading. I was literally shaking for a couple of minutes.

I took two things away from that experience-

One was that I felt all my hard work and struggles to write had not been in vain, and that I did have some instinct for writing.

And two, that Dramtica worked. It was the real deal. Like when I read the ‘Double Helix’ many years ago, the book about the discovery of DNA, that things only truly fit together one way, and we just have to be able to see it.

Enough rambling in my first contribution. I love Dramatica, and these discussions around it. And Jim Hull, thank you so much for all you do.


As someone pushing through the final 5% of making what I offer even better, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this today :blush:


You’re more than welcome. Without your Narrative First, I don’t think I would have had the aptitude to keep applying and understanding Dramatica, and therefore would maybe have given up.