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Posted: Jan 01, 2013 5:38 am
by RoboButler
Does anyone have a suggestion for how to settle into this theory/program? I am almost finished with the Elements of Structure and hoping The Art of Storytelling pulls some of it together. I started strong, but after awhile it is like your mind is getting bludgeoned.

I'm not sure about plugging away at the software as I hadn't anything ready to go when I got this. It would seem the software would be making my story rather than I using the software to strengthen my story.

Is there a case of someone retaining even a portion of this the first time they rode one of their stories through? Is there a problem with just slamming a story through there and telling the software to bug off when you disagree?

I haven't had this much difficulty since I studied Kant in college! Although I could be dumber now...

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 03, 2013 9:27 am
by Geoff1975
It's very rewarding once you get the hang of it. I started this past Spring and listened to as many podcasts (analyzing movies with it) on as possible. In some sense, that's a faster way of learning it than the guide in the package. Those discussions bring up the principles repeatedly. Also watch the Storymind channel on Youtube. I did have a story idea going into it, and could see how it predicted a lot of what I imagined. In my experience, the principles seemed natural. The logic behind it came right out. My problem was tracking down the missing bits of info. I held off outlining with it until understanding the deeper parts of the theory.

This might help. Sketch out and doodle the relationships and terms in the theory on pieces of paper. Much of it is based on four elements in a quad. Learn the relationships amongst the four elements.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 04, 2013 1:29 am
by RoboButler
Thanks for your reply. I can see already some of the benefits of the approach. A lot of the principles seem very natural to me as well. It just seems like one hell of a lot of stuff to keep in one's head.

Although since I posted my question, I started using the program on a kernel of an idea I've been using as an excuse to watch tv. If I remember half of what I read, the software is still worth it. The first 5 questions of the Level 1 Story Guide had this kernel more focused than three weeks of drooling at the keyboard would do. Normally one would want to come with more ideas than I did, but it was great for learning. Story ain't too bad either.

I will check out the podcast and Youtube channel.I didn't know about those.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 05, 2013 3:19 am
by RoboButler
I should also have mentioned that the theory book is one the nastiest books I have ever had to follow. Some sections not only don't clarify but leave you sitting with new material tossed in and utterly unexplained.

For instance (hardback) on pg 133-134 of Elements of Structure introducing Acts, there is this immediate confusion. It is said that each class has four types. Right, good so far. And then it uses the Activity Class as an example with Learning, Understanding, Doing, and Obtaining being its types. Good. And the Activity Class will be assigned to one of the throughlines, and one of the four types will be its Concern. Still good.

Then we learn that each of the types will be in the throughline, one for each act. No effort is made to explain how one is supposed to be the Concern when all four of them are present. We learn, not in reference to this obvious confusion, that the types can come in any order. That the order will change the meaning, but not whether this has any bearing on, what one would guess is, the "main" type of the throughline. They can come in any order, one is The Concern of the throughline, but, seemingly, not, but is, in 3 of the 4 acts.

And then we simply go on with a gigantic question mark for the next such unexplained problem.

Before I sound too sour. The software is great, stupendous even, from even the little I've used it. But as great as the software is, the theory book is not. It is the archetype of obfuscation, the arch-nemesis of clarity.

They should do a roundtable with noobs so they can rewrite this with some clarity. Because the very first question in my example, the one that arises and should be addressed, if only to acknowledge that a such a confusion is known, is how is one of the 4 types a Concern for the throughline and have the other three in the story as well? Particularly if you are doing this sort of thing several times a chapter, a little addressing of the issue or an assurance that issue/question X will be addressed in Chapter Z.

Because the way they present it some 30 pages earlier there is a Class for each throughline, each throughline then has a Concern within their designated Class. Then we learn later that each Type in the four quads gets a turn in each of the four acts (making four different Types at play in each act) none repeating although one in each throughline somehow being the Concern while only appearing for a quarter of the story.

I do have to wonder how many customers, potential or former, are not persistent little bastards like myself. I am willing to bet most users died around pages 100-120.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 11, 2013 8:46 am
by Geoff1975
Personally, if it were up to me, I wouldn't structure the Theory book so linearly from the stand point of steps a writer would take in a story. It appears that way. I would preface the book by inviting the reader to jump around the book, absorbing what's clear. The first chapter would explain the dynamics of a quad, since a lot of the theory is based on this. Then I would explain Mental Relativity and the levels twisting. The next chapter would further explain how these can be seen in a story.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 12, 2013 6:30 pm
by Chris Huntley
RoboButler wrote:Because the way they present it some 30 pages earlier there is a Class for each throughline, each throughline then has a Concern within their designated Class. Then we learn later that each Type in the four quads gets a turn in each of the four acts (making four different Types at play in each act) none repeating although one in each throughline somehow being the Concern while only appearing for a quarter of the story.

RoboButler: Is this question still unexplained? If so, here is an answer.

The Domain, Concern, Issue, and Problem etc. in each throughline are static plot story points. This means they are consistent story points from the beginning to the end of the story.

The four Signposts in each throughline are found at the Type level, the same level as the throughline's Concern. The Signposts are "act-sized" segments of the plot.

Even though the Concern will be of the same nature as one of the Signposts, the context is different. This is best seen through examples.

From Star Wars:

Main Character Throughline: LUKE
DOMAIN: Being a farm boy stuck on Tatooine with untapped Jedi powers
CONCERN: How Little Progress He's Making (How Things are Changing)
SIGNPOST 1: Being Trapped by the Past
SIGNPOST 2: Jedi Training Going Too Slowly (How Things are Changing)
SIGNPOST 3: Having Dim Prospects for the Future
SIGNPOST 4: Being in the Moment

Influence Character: OBI-WAN
DOMAIN: Believing in the Force and the Ways of the Jedi
CONCERN: Letting the Force guide one's Thoughts and Responses (Impulsive Responses)
SIGNPOST 1: Thinking about the Force
SIGNPOST 2: Letting the Force Run Through Oneself (Impulsive Responses)
SIGNPOST 3: Remembering One's Mentor
SIGNPOST 4: Following One's Feelings by Using the Force

If we look at Luke's throughline, we see his concern is with how little progress he's making, especially as it concerns his progress toward finding his place in the world and history. Signpost 2 focuses on a specific instance of How Things Are Changing, namely Luke's apparent slow progress with his Jedi training.

While the throughline concern may only be explored a few times within an act, the entire act is focused within the context of the Signpost.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 13, 2013 5:03 am
by RoboButler
Thank you for the explanation, Mr. Huntley. Although I was, by that point in my posting, merely ripping on the book! You gotta admit it is quite the brain-splitter. I did have a concern of how you keep the focus on the main concern while going through the other types in the type quad. And that on four throughlines. Any question I may ever ask, just put it in terms of Star Wars and I'm right there (just not the God-awful prequels).

My real question was on the first post. I was wondering if someone had a better method than I (and I admit mine sucks) for getting acclimated to all of it. I was merely trying to master the book by itself. That is not panning out.

I have settled, sans a better solution, for the total immersion method. I just bury myself in it (book, tubes, and software) for several months till I can't believe I never had it. Geoff pointed to some good resources especially the Storymind channel on YouTube.


PS, I really love Dramatica btw, great product!

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 13, 2013 5:09 am
by RoboButler
Do you sell a big chart of the structural model and the quads and all that? It would be cool to have that on the wall in front of my face than tucked away in the book.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 13, 2013 8:43 pm
by Chris Huntley
We don't sell them, but we do have the downloadable PDF from which we produced our large charts available:

I recommend sending it to Kinko's (or the like) and have them enlarge and print it to the size you want.

Re: Approach

Posted: Jan 13, 2013 8:51 pm
by Chris Huntley
We have yet to find an easy way to learn Dramatica, partly because it is both familiar and wildly different at the same time. PLUS, it is large..and complicated.

Re: Approach

Posted: Apr 29, 2013 10:48 am
by Contagionist
I think it would be useful to have a forum in which each thread was analyzing a movie (or other story) with Dramatica. The movie analysis section on the website is great, but for most movies we just have the storyform and not the analysis process that lead to it. With an actual forum, not only would we get a lot more examples to work with, but writers could see not only the results of the analysis, but the discussion that lead to it, providing insight into how it all works. And by participating in the discussions, maybe the participants themselves learn a little more. I would gladly contribute my admittedly feeble knowledge to such a forum.

I think even examining movies that don't have a "Grand Argument" would be beneficial, because through discussion we can discover just where these stories are lacking, and what could have filled the holes.

P.S.: I entered this thread expecting it to be something about Approach vs Attitude. :)