Writing With Subtext

@jassnip Hi Diane, from what I’ve seen in the videos, you seemed to have a pretty good idea of what your MC’s Unique Ability is (Layla being able to see Auras), and how it was to be the key to unlocking the OS. There was a moment in one of the earlier episodes where Jim was excited that you seemed to be thinking about how the MC and OS throughlines would tie together already, but when he reviewed the Storyform, the UC variation seemed not to fit with what you had in mind.
I’m not really sure what my question is - perhaps, whether you think that the initial focus on the OS Throughline, and the choices you have to make as you work through it will mean you have to make sacrifices (of your initial ideas) in the other Throughlines to honour those OS choices?

Heya Rob,

Umm…part of it is a balance between adjusting the ideas that I’ve already had to fit the context the storyform is providing. I might have to let go of an idea/concept, but I will only be able to do that IF I think of something better. So no harm, no foul from that aspect. The last part is part of the whole learning experience – the part that I’m getting out of this endeavor – learning how to apply dramatica to my ideas. That’s honing my skills (or writing chops, as I like to call them) to be an artist/creative. Structure, in any art form, is always the difference between a novice, a journeyman, and a master.

This is kind of new territory, but I think so. Also note, I think the various Act Turn Drivers could coincide with EITHER the first PSR item of the next signpost, OR the last PSR item of the previous signpost.

HI @jassnip @jhull how are things going with this venture? Are people on holiday, hiatus, or just busy right now? I’m

This was so helpful to watch and learn. Thank you so much for sharing these vids!

OMG another gem! I already have more clarity on how to use the Decision driver in my own story. I was a little worried that decision drivers could be less action packed but it can be quite the opposite. Lots of action can follow (and usually follows) the Decision driver. Good stuff. Thanks!

That’s a fantastic illustration of the story points in action! Thanks, @mlucas.

Am I right in thinking this is similar for most other opening Act scenes?

Hi Everybody,

We have another video that I need to edit today and then get up. I’ll let you know when I post it. I usually have to fight the video to keep the picture and sound synched so it takes me a while to go through one…

I apologize for the delay. This has been an insane month for my family as we moved two of my birds out of the house and down to So. Cal. My nest feels so empty. sobs a mother’s tears


Ooh, if it’s possible to crank up the volume, that would be great, @jassnip. If it ends up being too much hassle, don’t worry. It is hear-able.

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I do have the ability to up the volume a bit. Can do. :slight_smile:

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BTW, so looking forward to seeing the next video and how your conflict is coming along! :slight_smile:

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These are some great examples, and I just want to throw my two cents in.

Most story points won’t get a moment to themselves. Almost every moment in a story has multiple appreciations.

Anything that gets a moment to itself is likely to feel like a Deus ex Machina. (This is a theory, but it sounds right.)

Still, I recommend against thinking that there is something that must happen 100% of the time with any single part of Dramatica. Anything that you think must happen 100% of the time–use it as a bridge towards understanding, and then abandon it.


But, it’s a very helpful and manageable way to utilise or kickstart an idea that can be used in the story. Personally, I’d encourage more examples like @mlucas shared. It’s an intermediate level use of Dramatica, and it’s really cool to see Dramatica in action like that.

We gotta learn the basics before we can fly, and @mlucas’s fine examples are very helpful in that way.


Bump. As promised Episode 7 is now up. Hope y’all enjoy it.


This is what I’ve found when I’m writing, but I think the point doesn’t get emphasized enough, and I think failure to understand this can create to unnecessary doubt/paralysis when trying to get into the flow state of drafting.

Can you elaborate on this? I think I understand what you mean but I want to be sure.

I’d be happy to elaborate on it. This is still going to be all theory, because I haven’t thought of a concrete example.

Let’s just say we are in a Decision driver.

I decide to run for President of some club at my graduate school. This leads to the actions of campaigning, etc. and then the Second Driver is a bunch of people deliberating whether or not they think I’ll be a good President. Some say yes, some say no, and this leads to a bunch of actions (like interrupting classes to promote me and hanging big signs on buildings to embarrass me).

Then the campaign manager for Obama decides to help me.

This will obviously shift the perspective of the story, as Drivers are supposed to do. But it comes out of nowhere. It would be extremely jarring–assuming (like I am) that the story is small and contained to the university. How would this guy even know?? Why would he want to help me??

More specific to my point, it’s not the effect of any cause, nor is it the world trying to rebalance. It just kind of happens, unrelated to anything else.

I am probably opening a can of worms here, but I have an example from Stranger Things 3 that feels tacked on that really pulled me out of the story and I would guess that they would have a tenuous tie to the three-pronged storyform of that season of the show. I’m going to resist putting it here, under my “everything deserves a month before spoilers are allowed” policy.

Also, he’s a ghost. He’s been dead the whole time.


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I feel like you are contradicting me by saying exactly what I said.

I see. So to restate: this circles back to @mlucas point that Drivers usually coincide with/are connected to the previous and/or next Signpost/PSR beat.

So to use your example, maybe this…

…gets so extreme and controversial that the university makes national news, which brings it to the attention of Obama’s campaign manager, who then Decides to come and help. If one were using the PSR, this decision could be connected to/inspired by those variations (I can’t think of any good examples now…) in addition to whatever everyone is Doing in the second signpost.

Is that kind of what you meant?

Yes, that is what I meant. Ultimately, stories feel cohesive, and your extension of my example is a great way to make one thing flow to the next.

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A key thing here. Noticed this in my tearing down of Casablanca. It’s weird but Rick’s throughline (SP1) doesn’t kick in till the second act (by conventional standards of time; a good third of the entire film). What’s was even more intriguing is the mixing of the PSR variations in a non-sequential order: I’m guessing this might be an exposition- storytelling choice or something?
Quite interesting.