YA Supernatural Novel, help and guidance please

I like your understanding of Hope and Dream. However, try not to fall into the trap of thinking that certain elements are “better” or “more dramatic” than others. They can all be awesome, the question is how well they fit a particular story.

Besides, in your analogy, Hope would be about the guy who’s given up everything to train for the Great Bridge Sprint, hoping with everything he’s got that he’s going to win and set the course record. Yes, the bridge is solid – no one would worry about setting the record for crossing a seemingly nonexistent bridge – but that solidity enables other interesting dramatics and conflict.

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[quote=“mlucas, post:91, topic:1487”]but that solidity enables other interesting dramatics and conflict.

None of which seem relevant to my story.

Cool, that’s what matters! Though I think Hope may still be important in your story, isn’t it the IC Critical Flaw in both your above storyforms? That’s the thing that reduces the IC’s impact on the MC; it could even be the MC’s own hopes or hopelessness, as long as it reduces that impact.

How do you see the MC Unique Ability of Dream working? How about the IC Unique Ability of Choice?

We already decided that
Outcome: Successs (publishers tend to look for this in books they accept)
Judement: Good (Luke isn’t able to return home, but he has grown substantially along the quest)
Limit: Optionlock (we talked about this earlier and agreed that Optionlock is a good choice)
Resolve: Change (he has grown substantially along the quest)
Approach: Be-er (as Boone is a do-er, Luke must be a Be-er)
Problem-Solving Style: Holistic (like Sherlock Holmes, Ender Wiggins, Adrian Monk, and Benedict of Amber, Luke thinks in higher dimensions than everyone else)

Given the fundamental choices above, if we have MC Benchmark: Memories, then MC Signpost 1 must be Memories. If we have MC Benchmark: Contemplation, then MC Signpost 1 must be Memories.
The only good option here that I see is MC:Benchmark Contemplation and MC Signpost 1: Memories

Okay great! I wasn’t sure, because I thought I had posed a few additional questions on Judgment and audience reach (Optionlock-Holistic tending to reach female audiences better, though there are plenty of examples of ones that males still enjoyed).

Just make sure that you really understand what Holistic (aka Female Mental Sex) is before choosing that in your storyform. (This was something I got wrong in one my stories.) You can still have a “higher dimension” thinking Linear MC. To me, Sherlock Holmes is often using linear thinking – deduction being a logical process. But I haven’t read the books since I was young, and it’s quite possible he’s employing deduction while still balancing all of the forces involved.

So, assuming you don’t change your mind after brushing up on Holistic, you’re right there’s only those two storyforms left, with either Action or Decision as the driver.

Since I know we were struggling a bit with Driver (chicken-egg etc.), does one of the OS Signpost progressions call out to you more? What about the Benchmarks / Requirements / Forewarnings / etc.? Make sure to consider the old terms for the Types – Gathering Information can be Learning, teaching, etc.

Regardless of what Driver you choose, you should probably save both versions of your storyform. When I started my current novel I had several storyforms (saved as HTML files using the tool found here) bookmarked in my browser:

It wasn’t until I had around 75K words before I was sure on the top one!

I do understand the idea of audience reach, I just don’t agree with it.
There are many literary characters which appeal strongly to males and have a holistic problem-solving style. I listed four of them above. I bet that the majority of private dic characters have a holistic style.

That sounds like excellent advice which I’ll certainly follow.

Interesting article on the holistic assassin.

Back before I became disabled, my professional job was in cybersecurity. Holistic problem style, as discussed in the holistic assassin article, seems to closely parallel the typical approach of a computer hacker.

I’m not sure about this. Holistic has to do with balancing the environment in order to solve problems. I think many detective stories would use if-then type thinking during their investigations, which is inherently linear. (e.g. if the glass is on the outside, the window must’ve been broken from within.) And keep in mind that the majority of females tend toward holistic problem solving – it’s not something reserved only for famous thinkers.

When I mistakenly chose Holistic for one of my stories, I thought it meant intuitive. I learned that you can be highly intuitive but still linear. This would be like, skipping a step or two in the linear thinking, like A -> B -> D. Whereas Holistic is more like: A? Cheeseburger.

You’re probably right … but with Dramatica, be careful not to assume any story points unless they come from officially analysed stories, or examples in the theory book.

Anyway, I’m not great with Holistic thinking. I just know that if you find your MC doing any if-then type thinking (if I join Boone in his quest, then I might live up to my destiny and kill him … but if I’m very careful to watch myself, I think it’ll be okay), i’ts more likely he’s Linear.

All that said, it’s certainly your decision … I feel like I’m probably annoying you by being so careful on these last important points!

I don’t think that’s true. I do understand and agree that an if…then algorithm in and of itself is linear. However, neural nets are made of if…then processes and, I believe, neural nets are characteristically holistic.
Look at this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b3KM2p1nHs It is a bunch of if…then thinking, BUT it has arranged those if…then processes into a neural net. Holmes is simultaneously identifying a bunch of details (both details which exist and, importantly, details which don’t exist or don’t matter) and combining them to create a gestalt holistic conclusion.

By the way, here’s a great example of what I think of as “holistic problem solving” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se_iv1SJxiI

I won’t lie. I am anxious to get to work actually writing. We’ve probably done as much story forming as we can for now. If something pops up during the story encoding phase, we can always fix it then.

So, how do you want to handle the encoding phase?


Just throwing out another aside here. Sherlock Holmes actually uses something like Inductive or Abductive reasoning. It’s pretty much just a form of educated guessing. I’m wondering if that tends to be his Unique Ability at work (Analysis or whatever Variation would contain Induction for his throughline). No idea if he’s more Holistic or Linear. Probably depends on the portrayal. I’m probably going to have to watch the first two season of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch now.

What you do in encoding really depends on your writing process, which differs for everyone. Plus, most people are still learning Dramatica and how to apply it to their writing, so no one’s got it totally figured out.

First, definitely use that Bob Raskoph tool from the other thread to create single-page HTML of the one or two storyforms you like best. They make awesome references. Pretty soon you’ll have all the major points memorized.

Next, I’d actually recommend to stop adding anything into the Dramatica application. Now that you have the storyform, I think the rest is best done in a word processing tool. (NOTE: you could skip encoding altogether and just start writing your story now, if you want! Just referencing the storyform when you get stuck or need ideas.)

For storyencoding, start with a very quick pass, where you just write one or two brief phrases for each story point. You can export the Story Engine Settings report, save it to a word processor, and start marking it up like this:

(Caitlin Finch)
THROUGHLINE: Being the magic-born girl
CONCERN: Having a bleak future
ISSUE: Being prejudged for her devil’s blood vs. Openness
PROBLEM: Being a free spirit; Being abandoned by her family
SOLUTION: Allowing oneself to be tamed/controlled [Following the old man’s guidance]
SYMPTOM: Making things difficult for oneself; Being chained by rules
RESPONSE: Aiding others (esp. healing)
UNIQUE ABILITY: Accessing the time-slowed dimension / Taking time to calm down and think
CRITICAL FLAW: Outmaneuvering authority
BENCHMARK: Being focused on one’s immediate needs (e.g. hunger, tests, escaping execution, avoiding pursuit)
SIGNPOST 1: Being ready (presentable) for the Lord’s return home. Also: not being aware of current affairs (recently enacted laws regarding magic-born).

You’ll note I erased the original Dramtica terms as I went, to make it feel more creative than those sterile terms. Up to you if you want to leave them in.

If you’re not sure on something, leave it blank or throw in a bunch of question marks beside your ideas.


Once you’re done all the throughlines, get a feel for how well you “grok” each throughline. It’s fine if some signposts are left blank (you don’t need to know everything ahead of time) but you should have a good sense of the main conflict points – Domain, Concern, Issue, Problem. If any of the throughlines seem weak or you don’t quite get them, then you can focus in on those by brainstorming and writing more – a paragraph for each story point. This is where people on this forum might be able to help if you have questions.

Note sometimes it helps to do Domain & Concern, and Symptom & Response, together. That idea comes from Narrative First – and if you REALLY want to get a strong sense of your throughlines, you can try the Narrative First playground exercises. They can be a lot of work, but can help you grasp the throughline really well.

I’m not sure if a detailed outline is part of your writing process, but if it is, another thing you can do is try to identify the act turn Story Drivers. This can be tricky, but can be really valuable to understanding your story. (But if you only do a vague plot outline or none at all, you can’t really do this.)

Sherlock Holmes is using inference or probabilistic thinking, but he’s doing it for a lot of A’s and B’s concurrently. Its the same kind of thing used in email spam filters, facial recognition software, voice-to-text software, etc.
If that’s not “holistic,” then I have no idea what “holism” is. I do not believe that holism is random. Its conclusions are not arbitrary. But, if it isn’t probability based and drawn from a large number of as and bs concurrently, if it isn’t inference, then I have no idea what it is.

To the holistic thinker, what matters is not the As and Bs, but the balance of forces between them.

Here’s an example I use. 72 F is the room temperature we usually keep the house at in the winter. We’re all pretty comfortable there. Say we get home from being out and the thermostat was down to save energy, so the house is say 67. I’ll turn it up to 72. (or sometimes 70 or 71 – if no one notices, we’ll save more energy!)

But if my wife (holistic) gets home and sees it at 67, she’s like “Brrr!” and will turn it up to 73. If it’s even colder, say 65, she’ll turn it up to 74. Even though she knows that doesn’t make it heat up any faster, and even though she knows she’s most comfortable at 72. That high number on the thermostat is her attempt to “balance” things – at least there’s now one force in the house that represents heat (the high number). Also, holistically across time, if the house ends up warmer in the future, that sort of balances out its being colder earlier.

NOTE: I believe it’s actually more accurate to use the original terms Male and Female Mental Sex, but some might find that offensive, so we use Linear and Holistic.

That’s what inductive logic is though.

Inductive logic is about probabilities instead of certainties (deductive)… It doesn’t have much to do with “balance of forces” as far as I know.

What do you think probabilities are? If I have 100 marbles 50 black and 50 white, then the probability of drawing a white marble is 50%, but “50 black and 50 white” describes a “balance of forces” between white and black marbles. In fact, we can generalize thilss to say that we have 100 marbles with n marbles of one color and m of another color. We have m% chance to draw an m marble, but “n marbles of one color and m of another color” describes a balance of forces between the two colors.
To simplify, “balance of forces” is just another way to describe a probability.

I’m pretty sure everything you just said is a linear way of looking at it. The Holistic thinker would include the colour of the marble bag and whether it happens to be day or night when considering the balance between light and dark (white and black).

At least, that’s my understanding, but I generally only think holistically when I’m running. Maybe we should get a real holistic thinker like @Audz involved here to help out… :slight_smile: