How do you know when you have the right storyform?

Come here to ask questions or give advice about the theory that forms the basis of Dramatica.
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Leonides02
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How do you know when you have the right storyform?

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 10, 2011 11:12 am

I've already written a (very) rough draft of my novel, so I'm going off of that and trying to decide my storyform. I started with one storyform but, after working on it for awhile, realized it was all wrong. Now I've been tinkering with the story engine and I feel like I almost have it, but not quite. I'm like 80% of the way there. It's becoming a little frustrating because I'll change one thing to mesh perfectly for the story, but then another item is out of wack -- it feels a little like a Chinese finger trap! :?

So, how do you know when you have the right storyform? Does everything need to click into place like a well-made puzzle? Or is it okay if some areas just don't fit?

-Jesse

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phillybudd
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Re: How do you know when you have the right storyform?

Postby phillybudd » Feb 10, 2011 1:58 pm

I know what you mean. You push something on one end and something falls out of the other end.

However, I think it is in the storyweaving where the solutions lie. I just read a section of "Dramatica for Screenwriters" today where he points out that you can stand things on their head. He uses as an example a signpost of Understanding in the OS throughline. The MC is trying to convince the police that there is a terrorist plot afoot. But the police mis-Understand and think he's one of the terrorists. This was a revelation to me, and I'm looking at my storyform and wondering where the "problematic" items could be inverted in this way.

There were also certain things in my storyform during all my experimentation that I considered immutable -- the MC HAS to be a Be-er / logical character, so I had those items locked. I also kept getting about 80% of the way there. On a whim I decided to change that and make him a Doer / logical character. All of a sudden I was 95% there. As the book says, the fact that he is a Doer doesn't mean that he doesn't work things out internally, just that his preference is to "act". Once I made this change, his stuggle with the way things are going (everyone's thinking and not acting) made perfect sense. So if you've got any settings you're set on of that type, try changing them and see if it gets you closer.

Jeff

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Chris Huntley
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Re: How do you know when you have the right storyform?

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 10, 2011 3:57 pm

I find that the gestalt of the storyform is more important than any particular part when testing to see if a storyform "fits" a story. It is far easier to get part of the storyform, e.g. a single throughline's story points, to fit what I have in mind than it is to get the whole storyform to fit. However, the only storyforms that seem to hold up and reflect my intent as an author are the ones that fit well everywhere.

Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling on how it fits. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right. However, even if it feels right you need to "logic" it by coming up with multiple examples that accurately illustrate the story point.

Rarely do I get the right storyform on the first try. Always begin with what you know best about your story, first. Everything else will conform to those parts of the story that you have prioritized by picking early in the process.
Chris Huntley
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Leonides02
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Re: How do you know when you have the right storyform?

Postby Leonides02 » Feb 11, 2011 12:07 am

Thanks, Jeff and Chris.

Well, that worked quite well. It took me five storyforms, but I found it. I did what you suggested, Jeff, and turned off my "immutables," then I did what Chris suggested and started with what I knew best. That turned out to be the relationship between my MC and IC. I adjusted them first in the appropriate panel, and then with just a little tweaking it fell into place. Cool!

Unfortunately, I did a bunch of work in the other four story forms before this. D'oh! Well, I guess that's what I get for not thinking them through.

-Jesse


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