How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

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prodos
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How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby prodos » Dec 23, 2010 12:11 pm

Good morning.

In the story I'm currently working on, the Impact Character is supposed to be in "Fixed Attitude".

These are her Signposts:

MEMORIES >> IMPULSIVE RESPONSES >> INNERMOST DESIRES >> CONTEMPLATION

Here is the Dramatica definition of "Memories" ...

The Past is an objective look at what has happened. In contrast, Memories is a subjective look at what has happened. Therefore, Memories of the same events varies among individuals creating many different and possibly conflicting recollections. Often one's current feelings come from memories, both pleasant and unpleasant. Many a taut story revolves around a character's effort to resolve open issues from his memories by recalling or forgetting them.


So at Signpost 1, which is "Memories", is it the case that ...

a) The Impact Character is herself involved in "... a subjective look at what has happened ..." and that this SOMEHOW influences the Main Character?

Or is it the case that ...

b) The Impact Character causes (directly or indirectly) the Main Character to become concerned with "... a subjective look at what has happened ..."? Therefore the Impact Character is not necessarily herself involved in Memories, but her influence is such that the Main Character is now involved in Memories.

From reading the Dramatica book, I would say approach b) is correct and approach a) is not correct.

But some of the story examples from the Dramatica software seem to follow approach a)

Thanks for any assistance with this.

Merry Christmas, :)

PRODOS
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Re: How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby phillybudd » Dec 23, 2010 4:36 pm

Hi Prodos,

boy, have I struggled with this issue as well. But yes, I think you're right about "B". The impact character's purpose (dramatica-lly speaking) is always to affect, influence, change the main character. But then there is the "relationship" between them (the SS throughline). I've had a hell of a time distinguishing the two. But it sounds to me like you're on the right track.

Jeff

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Re: How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby prodos » Dec 23, 2010 5:42 pm

G'day Jeff,

Thanks for your viewpoint ...

phillybudd wrote:... I think you're right about "B". The impact character's purpose (dramatica-lly speaking) is always to affect, influence, change the main character ...


Well, both Approach a) and Approach b) involve affecting/influencing the Main Character. Agreed?

The question remains whether the writer should treat "SP #1, Impact Character = Memories" as meaning ...

... the Impact Character is herself involved in (for instance)"Memories" and this involvement in "Memories" somehow - in a manner unspecified - affects the Main Character. If it's this option then the Main Character doesn't necessarily end up being involved in "Memories".

Or as meaning ...

... an Impact Character Signpost of (for instance) "Memories" means that the Impact Character is affecting the Main Character in such a way as to cause the Main Character to get into "Memories" (a subjective look at what has happened).

In Approach a) the writer must figure out what the Impact Character of the story is doing that is concerned with "a subjective look at what has happened" ... and then figure out how this affects the Main Character.

In Approach b) the writer must figure out how the Main Character of his story is to be thrown into a "a subjective look at what has happened" by something the Impact Character of his story does. "Memories" therefore describes the outcome upon the Main Character. The Impact Character is not, herself, necessarily involved with "Memories". But the Main Character MUST end up in "Memories".

Approach b) is centred on the Main Character. When Dramatica assigns "Memories" to the Impact Character's 1st Signpost, the writer must then work on making sure that, at this point of the story, the Main Character is moved into "Memories" by something the Impact Character does. That seems very clear.

Approach a) does not seem to tell us anything about what state the Main Character must end up in. Only that wherever he ends up, he got there because the Impact Character was involved in "a subjective look at what happened".

I note that in both approaches, the Impact Character does need to remain within her Fixed Attitude Class.

Either: one of these approaches is right and the other is wrong, or they're both right.

If they're both right, I don't understand why.

Merry Christmas,

PRODOS
Melbourne, Australia

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Re: How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby stephenbuck415 » Jan 08, 2011 9:15 am

prodos wrote:Either: one of these approaches is right and the other is wrong, or they're both right.

If they're both right, I don't understand why.



Hi Prodos.

Have you come closer to finding an answer to your questions since you posted them?

Based on my understanding of Dramatica and its theory thus far, both are right. Why? There are a few reasons that go something like this:
Dramatica does not tell the writer what to write, but rather it provides guides for the writer to consider when writing the story. Those guides allow the writer to look at the story through several perspectives; present psychologically sound, emotionally logical experiences for the characters; and those guides are there to be used only when they work, not when they don't. The writer always has the opportunity and the right to disregard what Dramatica suggests and write what their inspiration, what their intuition, tells them to write.
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Re: How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby prodos » Jan 09, 2011 1:50 am

Good afternoon Stephen,

stephenbuck415 wrote:
Have you come closer to finding an answer to your questions since you posted them?


A little bit.

I wrote to two Dramatica experts (not Chris Huntley or Melanie Anne Phillips) and asked for their response to the issue I raised at the beginning of this thread.

My original question:

PRODOS wrote:
... is it the case that ...

a) The Impact Character is herself involved in "... a subjective look at what has happened ..." and that this SOMEHOW influences the Main Character?

Or is it the case that ...

b) The Impact Character causes (directly or indirectly) the Main Character to become concerned with "... a subjective look at what has happened ..."? Therefore the Impact Character is not necessarily herself involved in Memories, but her influence is such that the Main Character is now involved in Memories.

From reading the Dramatica book, I would say approach b) is correct and approach a) is not correct.


Email response from "Expert A":

Expert A wrote:
The answer you're going to get is "No,"

Dramatica doesn't have to settle on either one because they're not mutually exclusive -- both a) and b) apply.

They're both correct because they both serve the same purpose by providing influence towards the Main Character's throughline.

The reality of one explanation does not cancel out the other.


And then, by email:

Expert B wrote:
... about your question. Here's my answer -- based on my own experience: there is no right or wrong interpretation of a Dramatica appreciation.

The only "right" one is the one that applies to your story -- this is very similar to what (Expert A) said and to the examples that come with the Dramatica software.

A brief look at the "Stories" on the Query System (IC Concern of Memories) will show that: "I Love Lucy": Ricky has memories; "Klute": Bree tries to forget something; "Quills": The Marquis produces memories; "Rear Window": Lisa strives to produce a lasting memory ....

In a nutshell: the only right appreciation is that the Impact Character is somehow involved with memories and that makes a strong effect on the Main Character's vision of the world.

Other than that, go with whatever works best for your story.


... to which I replied ....

Prodos wrote:
The only one of these movies I've seen is "Rear Window".

Regarding the I Love Lucy episode, here's a summary over at IMDB:

http://www.tv.com/i-love-lucy/lucy-is-e ... ecap;recap

The (example of this episode within the) Dramatica software says at Impact Character Signpost #1:

"Ricky reminisces with Fred about the trials and tribulations of show biz."

But does that really define what is happening at Signpost #1?

From the IMDB summary, this section is described as (my emphasis added) ...

IMDB: When Lucy comes back from the doctor she breaks the news to Ethel--she is pregnant. The girls are so excited and Lucy wants to tell Ricky the news the way she's always dreamed of ... When Ricky comes home for lunch Lucy tries to break the news, but he's too preoccupied with work to listen to her, and then Fred and Ethel come over and Ricky chats with Fred about what a bad week it's been at the club.

It seems to me that Ricky's preoccupation with business problems CAUSES Lucy to get into a state where she's probably very concerned with the issue of MEMORIES.

Probably something along the lines of "... oh man, we've tried so much to have a baby ... I had given up on it ... we've both almost accepted it as impossible ... now I want to break that negative expectation .... but your darned preoccupation with the week's troubles are keeping us stuck in the old perception ... I want to to tell you that the way the past has shaped our expectations is no more!"

As I said, I haven't seen the episode, but when the Dramatica software says .... "Ricky reminisces with Fred about the trials and tribulations of show biz" .... that seems to me to be rather "so what?"

So, I'm arguing that the point of the "reminiscing" ... is to accentuate Lucy's MEMORIES issues which are also the audience's MEMORIES issues.

The audience is (I'm guessing) feeling: Please shut up Ricky so we can all view the past in a completely different way. Let Lucy tell you the good news and you'll see everything in your life and your career up to this moment in a completely new and positive way!



I then wrote to both Expert A and Expert B:

PRODOS wrote:
Pursuant to my questioning of how to treat the Impact Character Signpost/Types.

i.e. Does an Impact Character Signpost of "Memories" mean the Impact Character gets involved with her own Memories and, as a result, affects the Main Character?

Or does it mean the Impact Character does things which result in the Main Character's "Memories" being affected? Or both/either are possible?

Looking at the Story Points Output for a story in which the Impact Character Signpost 1 is Memories, here is what appears in the report for each Throughline ...

  • OS Journey 1: as the Overall Story continues through Act 1 it grows from a concern with Gathering Information into a concern with Understanding
  • MC Journey 1: as (The Main Character) continues through Act 1 he grows from a concern with How Things are Changing into a concern with The Past
  • M/I Journey 1: as the relationship between (The Main Character) and (The Impact Character) develops through Act 1 it grows from a concern with Developing a Plan into a concern with Playing a Role
  • IC Journey 1: as (The Main Character) continues through Act 1, her impact on Memories deepens until it switches to Impulsive Responses

I note it does NOT say "her impact on the MC's Memories grows/deepens/develops".

It says "her impact on Memories". Whose Memories? The character whose Memories are at issue is not specified.

I conclude from this that my view that the "Memories" affected must be those of the Main Character is NOT correct.


That's where things stand at present.

I would greatly value a comment from Chris Huntley on this matter.

stephenbuck415 wrote:
Based on my understanding of Dramatica and its theory thus far, both are right. Why?

Dramatica does not tell the writer what to write, but rather it provides guides for the writer to consider when writing the story. Those guides allow the writer to look at the story through several perspectives; present psychologically sound, emotionally logical experiences for the characters; and those guides are there to be used only when they work, not when they don't.

( .... ) The writer always has the opportunity and the right to disregard what Dramatica suggests and write what their inspiration, what their intuition, tells them to write.


I certainly agree that the writer has the right and the opportunity to disregard whatever Dramatica comes up with.

But the question is: What exactly does Dramatica come up with?

If Dramatica said: "You must use this particular Impact Character appreciation in manner X, but not in manner Y", yes I can then turn around and defy this and use the appreciation in manner Y.

But if Dramatica says, "You can use this particular IC appreciation in EITHER manner X OR in manner Y", then if I use it in manner Y, what I'm doing is compatible with Dramatica.

On page 220 of the Dramatica book it says (my emphasis):

For example, in our sample story, the Impact Character Throughline is in the Fixed Attitude (Mind) Class.

As a result, the Impact Character Throughline Types are Memory, Impulsive Responses [Preconscious], Contemplation [Conscious], and Subconscious.

This means that the Impact Character will (in some order) force the Main Character to remember (Memory), to respond differently when there is no time for consideration (Impulsive Responses [Preconscious]), to become aware of something (Conscious), and to desire something (Subconscious).

Encode the Impact Character's Types by the impact the Impact Character has in that area of concern on the Main Character.

In this way, your Impact Character will force your Main Character to grow to a point of potential Change. That is the function and purpose of the Impact Character in a story.


And from the sample story on page 222:

(Impact Character) Signpost #3
Type 3. Memory

The Main Character has gone so deeply under cover that no one at the agency has heard from him in days.

The Impact Character contacts and meets with the Main Character, finding him caught in a web of selfdoubt, unable to choose between sticking with his code or helping the children's hospital.

The Impact Character forces the Main Character to remember their days growing up together in the same neighborhood.

Recalling how the Main Character's thinking was not always so black and white, he urges the Main Character to learn a lesson from those memories
and bend with the wind, rather than snap under the pressures that are upon him.


I remain unclear on this issue.

Best Wishes,

PRODOS

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Re: How to Understand Impact Character Signposts?

Postby Chris Huntley » Jan 09, 2011 2:35 pm

Both A and B are correct. It is the presence of Memory that influences the Main Character's in his dealings with his personal issues. Whether it is an attribute of the Impact Character, or attributed to the Impact Character is irrelevant.

Even if you do not connect the dots between the MC throughline and the IC throughline, the audience will.
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