Build Characters

Come here to ask questions or give advice about the theory that forms the basis of Dramatica.
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stephenbuck415
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Build Characters

Postby stephenbuck415 » Mar 18, 2011 10:30 pm

Thus far when I use Dramatica, I jump between several different windows: The Query System (going to whatever area the impulse moves me to), the Plot Progression, and the Theme Browser. Unless there is already a premise inside my head, I start to visualize the story by keeping the Theme Browser open and using each element as a muse that helps me write the scene.

Now I'm learning how to use the Build Characters feature in Dramatica Pro 4.0, and would like help understanding its relationship to the elements within the Theme Browser, if there are any.

As an illustrated example, I've opened the Novel template, plugged in OS Throughlines of Learning, Understanding, Doing, Obtaining, SS is Conceiving, Conceptualizing, Being, Becoming, MC is Memory, Preconscious, Conscious, Subconscious, and OC is Present, Progress, Future, Past and included the relevant areas as a screen shot attached below.

The default Archetype Build Character grid placed the Sidekick in the MC Crucial block dynamically opposed to Skeptic in the OC Crucial. Having read Dramatica Log 10 at http://www.dramatica.com/archives/community/classes/AOL_Class_Logs_folder/dlog_10.html and Dramatica Tip of the Month (December, 2001, Character Archetypes and Crucial Elements) at http://www.dramatica.com/theory/tip_of_month/tips/tip1201.html, and combined with readings from the Theory book, I understand that the system will do that and it's beneficial to replace the assigned archetype placements with characters of my own choosing to create complex characters. In this example, I've chosen to assign the MC Crucial character to the Protagonist and the OC Crucial to the OC, who is the Guardian.

When I write scenes, I follow Plot Progression and use the quads and their individual elements within the Theme Browser to write the story. Can I use the same concept to develop greater depth to my characters by visualizing Theme Browser elements to elements on the character grid?

So, that is to ask if I use the upper left quad of Motivation, PRO=Consider, REA=Logic, ANT=Reconsider, and EMO=Feeling, does that mean I can relate it to the OS SP1 of Prerequisites and have the PRO related to Consider & Certainty, REA to Logic and Probability, ANT to Reconsider and Potentiality, EMO to Feeling and Possibility, and write scenes based on the diagonal, horizontal, and vertical relationship?
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Clint541963
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Clint541963 » Mar 19, 2011 6:17 am

Excellent question. This question has been brewing but not formulated as well as you have put it here. Thank you for asking it. Are there maps for the character traits that line up with the storymind throughlines?
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Re: Build Characters

Postby phillybudd » Mar 19, 2011 11:00 am

Chris has himself backpedaled on the importance of the "crucial" characteristics:

http://forums.screenplay.com/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=1371&p=2399&hilit=crucial#p2399

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Re: Build Characters

Postby Chris Huntley » Mar 19, 2011 5:39 pm

You can use pretty much any order or organization of OS characteristics you wish. The PSR patterns do not necessarily translate to the element level, but you that works just as well so long as you explore them in each act.
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Clint541963 » Mar 20, 2011 6:04 am

ME THINKING OUT LOUD AGAIN:
OK, for some reason this topic kept me awake most of the night and it occurred to me again to think of this from the perspective as an actor. The elements of a character make a 4 dimensional being. A character is not linear but but exists within a 3 dimensional linear world. So what I am saying is perhaps as a character moves forward within a story she has all these elements at her disposal (Internal and External or consciously or unconsciously) and they react to the given circumstances presented to them at the time. In my mind I see 4 tiers. Purposes on top and Motivations under that. Those two are a constant no matter where they are in the story. Then below Motivation is Methodology (or tactics) and below that is Evaluation. The Methods are constantly being Evaluated at any given moment in respect to how well the Methods are bringing her closer to her Purpose because of her Motivations, closer to her goal.
I haven't explored yet the difference in Internal Elements and External Elements but here is an article that may help:
http://dramaticapedia.com/2010/04/08/the-dramatica-structure-elements/

below is an example of how I see character elements working:
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.

see thread:
http://forums.screenplay.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=4135
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Chris Huntley » Mar 20, 2011 8:42 am

Works for me.

In Dramatica terms, I see characters as groups of character elements that travel through the story. Each character element is employed as the author (or story) dictates. The rules are fluid. At a minimum, each character element should be explored in each signpost.

The exception to this involves archetypes. Since archetypes are all in alignment, the character only needs to show up once a signpost/act because ALL of an archetype's elements are assumed to be there as a group. If you have a complex character that is similar to an archetypal character, you only need to illustrate the differences.

BTW, Clint541963, I think description of how an actor may use this, and your description of Ilsa in Casablance is terrific.
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Re:Characters/Elements/signposts

Postby Clint541963 » Mar 24, 2011 7:20 pm

To StephenBuck415, I would like to continue discussing this topic. I wonder if I didn't fully understand what you were going for and derailed your question. Did you read the article The Dramatica Structure: Elements (http://dramaticapedia.com/2010/04/08/the-dramatica-structure-elements/)?
If all sixty four elements (the same sixty four elements that make up character dimensions) If the same sixty-four elements are in each through-line/class (albeit arranged quite differently) then wouldn't it be true that those characters possessing the elements in a given signpost have a part to play in that signpost? Or perhaps it is best to think of the elements as characteristics that are emphasized in the corresponding signposts. In my first Screenplay my first signpost has only 2 people who are physically present.

@ Chris H.: I think I still had McKee's Story fresh in my head. He did such a great job describing Ilsa's Purposes, Methodologies, Motivations, and Evaluations when he talks about Casablanca.
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Chris Huntley » Mar 25, 2011 9:52 am

McKee's deconstruction of a character's thought process is amazing. I think it is the strongest aspect of his approach to story, and works well to give an author insight into how to create powerful and surprising dialog.
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Clint541963 » Mar 25, 2011 2:29 pm

Re: Robert McKee's STORY:

Agreed. When he does it with the scene from China Town as well as Casablanca and in scenes he creates it is very compelling. I also listened to him read the Audiobook. I loved it when he read those sections.
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Re: Re:Characters/Elements/signposts

Postby stephenbuck415 » Mar 28, 2011 8:02 am

Clint541963 wrote:To StephenBuck415, I would like to continue discussing this topic. I wonder if I didn't fully understand what you were going for and derailed your question.


Hi Sam.

Please feel free to simply address me by my last name, Buck.

No, I did not feel my question was derailed at all. You asked questions that were running around inside my head and had not made it out to the keyboard, so my feelings were and are that your question contributed quite well to the discussion

Clint541963 wrote:Did you read the article The Dramatica Structure: Elements (http://dramaticapedia.com/2010/04/08/the-dramatica-structure-elements/)?


Yes, and thank you for providing the link. Melanie has quite a lot of information posted there, and it's much easier to read and find information since she revised the site.

Clint541963 wrote:If all sixty four elements (the same sixty four elements that make up character dimensions) If the same sixty-four elements are in each through-line/class (albeit arranged quite differently) then wouldn't it be true that those characters possessing the elements in a given signpost have a part to play in that signpost? Or perhaps it is best to think of the elements as characteristics that are emphasized in the corresponding signposts. In my first Screenplay my first signpost has only 2 people who are physically present.


Currently I'm enrolled in my first college screenwriting class (McKee's Story is one of the required readings), but my focus in the past has been a very large novel project. Last year when I had my breakthrough learning Dramatica, I decided to map out a very detailed path to tell (elaborate on) the story. I chose a storyform, opened up the Theme Browser, and mapped out each signpost with the elements from each respective throughline, and even went so far as to create an individual Scene for each element (in the sequential order I wanted it to be told). The Pro to this was that I learned the definition of each element while doing so, but there were two cons: 1) was that it was terribly complex process, requiring me to think more about the writing process than to simply write the story and 2) it took a tremendous amount of time to do so (I spent more time constructing the story than writing the story).

Although I gained an excellent understanding of the element terms and concepts of how they can be applied to the throughlines, I had not gained the understanding of how they apply to the Build Character window. I feel that Chris addressed my questions by saying that characters possess groups of character elements that travel through the story which are employed as the author dictates.
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Re: Build Characters

Postby Clint541963 » Mar 31, 2011 4:22 am

Alright, Buck, you've got it. You are right, Chris DID answer the question well. I guess my real objective is to explore character development and analysis. I will start a thread which may spark discussion. Have a great day. What is the url for your blog?
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Re: Build Characters

Postby stephenbuck415 » Mar 31, 2011 3:02 pm

Hi Sam.

The blog is just beginning--my first formal article posted just yesterday. I planned to post a videocast to introduce Dramatica this Friday, but this morning my main computer melted... sometime tomorrow I receive a new motherboard and processor, and if all goes well, this weekend I will produce a videocast or two for the site.

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