Character Element Confusion

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Leonides02
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Character Element Confusion

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 02, 2011 11:42 am

So, I'm diligently working on building my characters. I'm learning a lot about them, but I'm a little confused about something.

When you select, say, the "Self-Awareness" element and look it up in the handy-dandy Dramatica Theory book it says:

When a character possesses Self-Awareness he fully appreciates all his feelings, thoughts, abilities, and knowledge. Everything he experiences or observes is couched in terms of his own point of view.

To me, this seems to indicate the character representing Self-Awareness in the story already has it. However, since this is a Purpose Element, the notes say that the character that represents Self-Awareness should be ...driven to achieve self-awareness.

That's what's confusing me. I don't understand if the character is supposed to HAVE Self-Awareness already, or if they're supposed to be driven to achieve it. Is it both?

I have some similar questions regarding the Motivate Elements. Basically: Is the character representing the elements supposed to already have and utilize them in the story, or is it something they’re supposed to gain?

Also I want to make sure I’m grasping the elements idea. Let’s say a “Joey” (a complex character) has the following Characteristic Elements:

Motivation – Faith / Pursuit
Methodology – Certainty / Proaction
Evaluation – Result / Proven
Purpose – Change / Equity

Would it be a good use of the elements to say:

Joey’s <Faith> in democracy drives him toward <Pursuing> his goal, which is <Change> within his society, hoping to make things more <Equitable> for his fellow citizens. Once he is absolutely <Certain> of his actions, he initiates the things which drives him forward. Along the way he decides if things are going well by all available evidence <Proven>, but Joey will also worry about the ramifications of his actions <Reason>.

Also, incidentally, I'm having some trouble figuring out what the "Non-Accurate" Element means.

Thanks, all!

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Clint541963
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Clint541963 » Feb 02, 2011 1:49 pm

Motivation – Faith / Pursuit
Methodology – Certainty / Proaction
Evaluation – Result / Proven
Purpose – Change / Equity

Joey’s <Faith> in democracy drives him toward <Pursuing> his goal, which is <Change> within his society, hoping to make things more <Equitable> for his fellow citizens. Once he is absolutely <Certain> of his actions, he initiates the things which drives him forward. Along the way he decides if things are going well by all available evidence <Proven>, but Joey will also worry about the ramifications of his actions <Reason>.


As an actor I would say it more like this:
Joey the politician" has a purpose or goal to <change> the current "politics as usual" and bring more <equity> to the current monitary class system. Joey's motivation or drive toward this goal comes from his <faith> in democracy and his constant <pursuit> of making his fore fathers dream of democracy become true rather than just a facade. Joey's methodology or tactics to achieve his goal include <Proaction>. He is a man of action not debate. He is a do-er. And he does not question is actions or his beleifs. He acts with <certainty>. As he takes action he evaluates his methods by looking at the <results>. Did he get the results he wanted? Did they get him closer to his goal? and are his methods <proven> by the past or perhaps if he gets the <results> he expected he sees that as <proof> that he is on the right path.

Again, that is how I would lay it out as an actor according to the given circumstances given in the script and if it is in line with what the director wants and/or the freedom I am given to create my own character.

As far as the first part of your question, does it really say the character possesses self-awareness? or did you infer that. I am guessing it is more like the character possesses the purpose element of self-awareness. I would say, the definition gives you the WHAT it is and if it is listed as the purpose you make it the goal or direction to move toward. I would use the same logic for the other character dimension elements ( motivation, methodology, evaluation)
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Leonides02
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 02, 2011 3:52 pm

Joey the politician" has a purpose or goal to <change> the current "politics as usual" and bring more <equity> to the current monitary class system. Joey's motivation or drive toward this goal comes from his <faith> in democracy and his constant <pursuit> of making his fore fathers dream of democracy become true rather than just a facade. Joey's methodology or tactics to achieve his goal include <Proaction>. He is a man of action not debate. He is a do-er. And he does not question is actions or his beleifs. He acts with <certainty>. As he takes action he evaluates his methods by looking at the <results>. Did he get the results he wanted? Did they get him closer to his goal? and are his methods <proven> by the past or perhaps if he gets the <results> he expected he sees that as <proof> that he is on the right path.

That's really great, Sam. You really illustrated how those elements build a very solid 4D character. I love how it all connects together. Thanks. Too bad there aren't more Joey politicians in the real world.

I very well may have inferred it.

I guess what's confusing me a little, too, is the "characteristic notes" section of the Character Builder. Unforunately, this section is left blank in all of the example files Dramatica ships with, so I don't really know what to do with it. However, it says: Provide examples of how this character represents this element. (Paraphrasing, as I don't have the software with me).

So, for instance, my MC has the element of Knowledge. In that section I wrote that he has a lot of theoretical knowledge that he will utilize, but that he will be at a disadvantage when his "theoretics" meets the "facts on the ground." To me, this was how he "represented" knowledge in the sotry.

Now, if we go with what you're saying (and I think it's probably right) he has a Purpose to achieve knowledge. I guess I just need to re-word that section so that it's clear that while he has theoretical knowledge, he is ultimately what he's after TRUE knowledge.

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Clint541963
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Clint541963 » Feb 02, 2011 8:06 pm

It would be really cool if they had a report that ran character elements and how they fit into the throughlines. That one came easy because you set it up well. Let's see if I can do it again with another character....
(moments later) Well they do have reports. one is called "All Characters", another, "Build Characters" and one "Main vs. Impact Story Character".

Casalbanca:
Ilsa (wife of Lazlo and one time lover of Rick
PURPOSE: Desire, Change
MOTIVATION: Consider, Feeling, Faith, Help
METHODOLOGY: Protection
EVALUATION: Hunch, Test

Ilsa's goal or purpose is to acquire desire.
As defined by Dramatica, desire is the motivation toward something better. So Ilsa's purpose is not to acquire something better but it is to 'acquire the motivation toward something better. She doesn't care about anything anymore. Ilsa also has a goal or purpose toward Change. If Rick is a Change/start Character and a logical be-er than most likely Ilsa as the impact character is a steadfast/stop character who is an intuitive do-er. So her goal in the story is for Rick to change, to stop hating her. For Rick to care again. (maybe her goal of desire is for Rick not herself, after all she is the impact character.)
Ilsa's motivation or drive is to get Rick to consider the pros and cons (appeal to his logical thinking). Her intuition tells her and motivates her to get Rick to help her husband to America. Her feelings or emotional sense of how things are going. She is motivated in her faith(accepting something as certain without proof) that Rick still cares about people, that he still loves her and will help Lazlo for her sake. She is motivated by Help. She has to have Ricks help. He has the passport. He is the only one who can get them out of this country away from the Nazis.
Ilsa's methods or tactics to achieve her goals is protection (an effort to prevent interference with ones concerns.) In a strange way she does this by avoiding Rick's painful jabs at her character. If she sees his concerns as not wanting to be hurt by love again then maybe she protects him as long as she can by letting him be angry and hateful. She is also protecting her husband by using her connection, all-be-it a strained connection, with Rick to get Lazlo a passport to save his life.

She evaluates her efforts and her progress by her hunches or understandings based on insufficient circumstantial evidence. She also evaluates her progess by testing or trials to determine something validity. SO, she has a hunch Rick is not happy for disappearing on him in Paris after they proclaimed their love for each other and she is right, but she keeps testing to see if he still cares for her. She smiles, flirts, she gets hurt by Rick's remarks, she tells him the truth. She is testing to see if he is approachable. If she can get close to him again to tell him she loves him and she is sorry and to get his help.

That is an un-practiced attempt to do the same thing with a Dramatic example with pre-chosen characteristics. I was going to do Rick but he had no Evaluation characteristics chosen.
When working on my own story I find this very difficult to choose these characteristics once you get to complex characters but doing this exercise might help.
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Leonides02
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 02, 2011 10:14 pm

Thanks again, Sam. It surely seems like it's supposed to work that way. Maybe when Chris gets a chance he can tell us if we're totally off-base. For now, I'm going to go torment some characters... :twisted:

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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 03, 2011 10:15 am

Great examples.

With character elements, and all structural items per se, you can see them as having the trait or lacking the trait, having too much, or too little, having it as an attribute or having it attributed to them, having it as positive or negative, waxing and waning, etc. I often refer to this as "flavoring." The item has a base meaning, but you may "flavor" it to give it greater subtlety and variety.

For example, if we look at the character element of Desire, we can "flavor" in different ways:

-- Having too much desire (e.g. being overzealous, heartsick, too passionate)
-- Having too little desire (e.g. being indifferent, blase, too dispassionate)
-- Having a desire (e.g. wanting something or someone)
-- Being desired (e.g. being wanted for something or by someone)
-- Having positive desires (e.g. Love, career goals, hobbies, constructive desires)
-- Having negative desires (e.g. obsessions, depravities, destructive desires)
-- Having waxing desires (e.g. growing passions, gaining interest, falling in love)
-- Having waning desires (e.g. dampening passions, losing interest, falling out of love)

... And so on.

It is up to you, as the writer, to choose the type of spin you want to put on the dramatic element.
Chris Huntley
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Leonides02
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 03, 2011 7:54 pm

Thank you, Chris. That helps, too. I guess the freedom within the overall structure takes a little getting used to.

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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby phillybudd » Feb 04, 2011 4:34 am

Ain't that the truth! The storyforming part of this theory is so rigorous and was such an epiphany (for me) where story structure is concerned. The storyweaving part is much scarier.

I have found the book "Dramatica for Screenwriters" to be a great help in getting past this. The section "Instant Dramatica" alone is worth the price of the book (but it is also available on the Dramatica website). Most of the early part of the book applies to any kind of fiction writer.

Jeff

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Leonides02
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Re: Character Element Confusion

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 04, 2011 12:57 pm

So I've heard, Jeff -- Which is why last night I ordered Dramatica For Screenwriters off of Amazon. Hopefully it will help me as much as it did you.


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