Writing With Subtext

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.

So, I’m gonna bump the thread to say I really liked episode seven.

And, holy cow, @jhull, thank you for “People need to kill [the tiger] in order to stay alive unless every life is precious.” I have to admit, the whole time I was thinking something along those lines, the entire time.

Mine was, “…unless they believe it is more important to respect nature”. But, that’s probably because I happen to be more on the influence character side there… (Not completely, but more. A synthesis of sorts.)

Actually, real story time: When I was a child, my dad and I were on a hike one day and came across a bear. We were standing near the path her cubs took, and she was looking our way trying to decide if she should go straight across the path, or come down to where we were. It was scary, but it’s always stayed with me as a way of showing how having respect for nature can be a very important thing.

That’s a fun exercise, though. I need to do it for my own story…


I’ve been so appreciating these Writing with Subtext, to get into the mind of the writer when approaching the OS especially. I’m trying to get my head around how to write Protagonist in OS without it being MC. This series was very useful, and I’ve missed it over the past two months.

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I’m glad you like it!

I love doing it as well–right now, I’m in the midst of making some huge upgrades to Subtext, most of which will lay the foundation for even more integration with classes, developing stories, and pretty much all things Dramatica.

Once I get this rolled out, I will definitely be diving back into it (assuming Diane will still be interested!)


Okay so I finally managed to listen to Episode 7 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWtLZlUIWLs) and I agree with @Hunter, this one was great. HIGHLY recommended!

This episode set off lightbulbs. I have had that narrative first article (https://narrativefirst.com/articles/a-method-for-generating-conflict) bouncing around in my head for a couple of years but this is the first time I felt like I was starting to get it. Not only that, but I feel like it’s key to actually understanding what having two different “perspectives” between the IC and MC really MEANS (rather than just illustrating the individual storypoints of the two throughlines in isolation).

Another thanks to @jhull and @jassnip!


you couldn’t drive me away !

Jim and I will be getting back to this but right now I’m in So cal, with a tablet and a to-do list as long as my body. I’m scheduled to fly home on the 21st. At which point I can resume my happy job as Dramatica student surrogate.

| do apologize for all the delay but I had to get my kids out of a hellish situation. I know y’all get that family comes first. Thank you for your patience.