Theory vs. Software - Need help

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PeterSchwaiger
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Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 17, 2014 7:06 am

Dear Forum,

having worked myself through the (excellent) book "Dramatica. A New Theory of Story" several times now, there are questions I just can't find an answer to - so I put them up here hoping some of you more experienced Dramatica users can give me advice where I lost track...

1. Story Goal
- The elements of structure/Plot Story Points/Story Goal (pg. 128): "The Story Goal will share the same Type as the Overall Story Concern."
- The Art of Story Telling/Stage One: Storyforming/Static Plot Story Points (pg. 203): "The goal will be the same nature as the Concern of one of the four Throughlines. Which one depends on which throughline an author wants to highlight in his storytelling"
Although I prefer the second, more flexible option, Dramatica software automatically assigns my Storygoal's Type to the Overall Throughline's Concern... what am I missing here?

2. Sequences/Scenes/Events
The elements of Structure/Plot(pg. 146 ff.) explains:
- Sequences: There are 6 Sequences (the 4 Variations measured each by each - I do understand that)
- Scenes: There are 24 scenes. "What then does a scene contain? Scenes describe the change in dynamics between Elements as the story progresses over time. And since Elements are the building blocks of characters, scenes describe the changing relationships between characters. Characters are made up of Motivations, Methodologies, Means of Evaluation and Purposes." I understand that, but where do the 24 come from? I just don't get it...

Any advice is appreciated from the heart!
Yours,
Peter

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby stephenbuck415 » Feb 17, 2014 5:46 pm

but where do the 24 come from? I just don't get it...


See: The Progression of Plot
http://dramatica.com/theory/book/plot

"6 Goes Into 24 Like Theme Goes Into Scenes

We have spoken of the three and four act appreciations of story. It was illustrated how both divisions are valid to specific tasks. When dealing with scenes, we find that no scenes ever hang between two acts, half in one and half in the other, regardless of a three or four act appreciation. This is because there are exactly 24 scenes created at the Element level: six per act in a four act appreciation, eight per act in a three act appreciation. In both cases, the scenes divide evenly into the acts, contributing to the “feel” of each act break being a major turning point in the progress of the story.

Sequences, on the other hand, exist as a six part partition of the story. Therefore, they divide evenly into a three act appreciation but not into a four. Since the four act view is objective, sequences — as they define Thematic movements — are truly an experiential phenomenon in the subjective appreciation and lose much of their power objectively."
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 18, 2014 2:27 am

Thank you for your reply, Stephen!

This is exactly the page I've been reading over and over and over again... but I still don't understand. "...there are exactly 24 scenes created at the Element level..." - yeah, but HOW are they created? What is the equation leading to the number of 24? Which are the elements (respectively, their interactions) involved?

Let's assume, I am writing a story as follows (I'll use a three-act structure for simplicity):
OS Domain: Situation
OS Concern: How things are changing
OS Issue: Fact
OS Problem: Proven

Acts: Journey 1 (e.g. The Past -> How things are changing) + Journey 2 (How things are changing -> The Future) + Journey 3 (The Future -> The Present) = 3 Acts
Sequences: since "Fact" is my Issue -> Fact vs Fantasy + Fact vs. Security + Fact vs. Threat + Fantasy vs. Security + Fantasy vs. Threat + Security vs. Threat = 6 Sequences
Scenes: But what then are the 24 scenes in such a story?
As far as I can see, it's not about Elements, but their interaction - so, if there are 6 possible interactions within a quad of 4 elements; the number of possible interactions of 4 quads examined would be 24. But - in this example story - what quads/Elements would that be? The 4 quads/16 Elements beneath the Fact/Fantasy/Security/Threat quad?

Or am I completely wrong?

Thank you in advance,
Peter

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby stephenbuck415 » Feb 18, 2014 3:23 pm

Hi Peter.

I'm on a tight schedule today and will provide a detailed reply later this evening... meanwhile, I believe Melanie addresses most of your general questions in this essay:
http://dramaticapedia.com/2011/10/24/character-development-and-the-28-magic-scenes/

I'll plug your settings into a blank storyform later this evening and provide screenprints in my reply. I'm using Dramatica Pro for the PC, so if you are using Story Expert then things will look a bit different but the concepts will be the same.
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 18, 2014 11:32 pm

Hi Stephen,

thank you so much for your support!
I have just read the article you recommended - thank God, I did not come across the "28 magic scenes" before; although they seem to be a nice Storytelling tool for getting that first draft done, there's also potential for further confusion... (especially, since there are 24 "structural scenes" per throughline - 96 in a complete story; but only 28 "magic scenes" in all 4 throughlines, which - if one leaves out the additional "final scene" in each throughline - leads to the question, where there is a difference between a "magic scene" and a sequence...)

But back to what Melanie wrote about the "24 structural scenes":
"Now, dealing with the 24 scenes in the structure, we find there are the same four signposts that delineate the sequence of topics that will be explored act by act. But each of the signposts must also be explored thematically. In other words, to make the story argument, the reflections or harmonics of the problem must be felt in the plot. To do this, you look at the thematic conflict for a given throughline (like the overall story) and then explore all of the thematic conflicts in each of the four signposts. There are four thematic elements in the quad containing the thematic conflict. In every quad there are six different relationships that can be explored, so four signposts “times” six relationships to be explored equals 24 sequences per throughline. "


- Confusion #1: This is all about exploring a story thematically. But isn't thematic conflict already explored on Variation Level by measuring Issue und creating Sequences? Aren't we down to Element level, where Character interaction/conflict happens, when creating Scenes - as the book says?
- Confusion #2: On Element level, the quad containing the thematic conflict (Problem vs. Solution) of my example story would be Proven/Unproven/Accurate/Non-Accurate, which falls under the "How things are changing"-Signpost. But which ones would be the conflict quads under the other three Signposts? Isn't there only 1 Problem per throughline?
- Confusion #3: I think, the word "sequences" at the end of the quote has to be replaced with "scenes", since this is what the whole paragraph is about, isn't it?

Really thankful for your support,
Peter
P.S.: At least my initial calculation - 4 x 6 interactions - seems to be correct :?

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 19, 2014 9:14 am

RE: SCENES

Shorter answer:

There are many ways to construct scenes. The 28-scene Signpost and Journeys method only looks at scenes at slightly less than act sized resolution and from a plot perspective. It's more like a suggested sense of the major beats in a plot, rather than filmic scenes. Character, theme, and genre need to be added to those scenes as well, which allow you to have reason to subdivide (or parallel) the plot scenes
even further.

THEN, when you add in whatever storyweaving techniques you wan to use, you'll find that variation is less tied to the storyform and more to the storytelling. This frees you up to explore the story in as many slices as you wish.


LONGER ANSWER:

There are all sorts of ways to figure out what goes on in a scene -- the 24 scene (minimum) using character element interactions is one. There are thematic scenes or sequences, as well as plot scenes (based on signposts and journeys). However, these are scenes that grow from the structure only, not organic scenes in the traditional sense.

Here is a link to one Dramatica tip on the subject. I followed it with an excerpt from another Dramatica tip.

TIP: 24 or 28 SCENES
http://dramatica.com/questions/does-dramatica-call-for-28-scenes-or-24

TIP: BUILDING SCENES

There is no single "right" way to build scenes. The Dramatica theory book and Armando's book, Dramatica for Screenwriters, as well as the structure templates shipped with Dramatica, each give you different approaches to accomplish the same task, namely storyweaving your encoded story points into a finished work. There are MANY ways to approach this process. What you include and how you organize your scenes depends on your personal taste and the constraints of the form of writing you are doing (e.g. screenplay, novel, stage play, etc.). Screenplays have limited space to cover a lot of material, whereas novels have relatively more space to explore the storyform at leisure.

If you are an organic writer, then write and rework it after the fact. If you are a structural writer, then I suggest you lay out your story in plot order FIRST, then figure out how you want to rearrange things through storyweaving for the finished work (e.g. reveal early plot points at the end of the work such as "Whodunit?"). In any case, here are a few tips:
There are four acts. Make sure all static story points (e.g. Story Goal, MC Problem, OS Issue, etc.) appear at least ONCE in each act.

    - Make sure each throughline appears at LEAST once per act.
    - Make sure each character appears at least once per act.
    - Make sure there are elements of Character, Plot, Theme, and Genre at least once per act (it's hard NOT to do this but it bears mentioning).
Whenever possible, combine story points and throughlines into the same scenes. This weaves your story tighter and makes it appear more cohesive and organic to the audience.

Everything else is personal preference--YOUR personal preference.
Chris Huntley
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 19, 2014 9:26 am

PeterSchwaiger wrote:
1. Story Goal
- The elements of structure/Plot Story Points/Story Goal (pg. 128): "The Story Goal will share the same Type as the Overall Story Concern."
- The Art of Story Telling/Stage One: Storyforming/Static Plot Story Points (pg. 203): "The goal will be the same nature as the Concern of one of the four Throughlines. Which one depends on which throughline an author wants to highlight in his storytelling"
Although I prefer the second, more flexible option, Dramatica software automatically assigns my Storygoal's Type to the Overall Throughline's Concern... what am I missing here?


The software requires that the Story Goal be located withing the Overall Story Domain. When defining the goal as the item or condition everyone in the 'story' are trying to achieve (or prevent), then having it in the OS makes the most sense.

HOWEVER, any of the four throughline's Concerns can be emphasized in the storytelling to make it appear to be the 'story goal'. Likewise, each throughline's concern may emphasize one particular aspect of the Concern to make it appear to be the throughline's goal. This appearance does not affect the story structurally, but may play an important part in your audience's story reception.

THEORY NOTE: It is conceivable that alternative versions of the Dramatica model built on different 'givens' could accommodate Story Goals that do not appear in the Overall Story throughline. The implication would be that the other static plot points would have to be recalibrated to reflect the alternative version's new baseline ('givens'). We included that note in the theory book to indicate the potentially relative nature of the Story Goal as a concept but not necessarily as a practical application.
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby stephenbuck415 » Feb 19, 2014 11:59 am

Pete, I apologize for not being able to reply last night, and am glad that Chris made his reply.

- Confusion #2: On Element level, the quad containing the thematic conflict (Problem vs. Solution) of my example story would be Proven/Unproven/Accurate/Non-Accurate, which falls under the "How things are changing"-Signpost. But which ones would be the conflict quads under the other three Signposts? Isn't there only 1 Problem per throughline?


The Theme Browser may be a useful tool to help determine conflict. In the Build Chacters tool screenprint below that there are Dynamic, Companion, and Dependent relationships between the elements. The Dynamic \ or / indicates elements that are in conflict with each other. Now, apply that same concept to the presentation of elements through the Theme Browser. I'm including a screenprint of a Theme Browser based on the initial settings you provided (I filled in the blanks to reduce it to 1 storyform):
http://goo.gl/f6sRxH

In the screenprint linked above, the Problem, Response, Symptom, and Solution is displayed in each signpost and in each element.

The default version of the Theme Browser in Dramatica Pro seems to have all extra features turned off. In Dramatica Pro, activating those additional guides is done through a drop down menu located in the lower left region of the theme browser (print attached below).

It may also be worth mentioning that hidden away in the Level Three Storyguide are detailed instructions about scenes (print attached below). Storyweaving > Scene Creation > Step #6 Building > Guidelines presents four stages to the building of a scene.
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 19, 2014 11:18 pm

Dear Chris, dear Stephen,

thank you so much for your effort and for sharing so many valuable tips and insights!
Being an experienced and rather organic writer, I know well about the necessity of a multi-angle approach when it comes to creating scenes. I find the blending of theme-, plot- and character-perspectives on scenes and especially the way, Dramatica's Build Character Tool and the Scene Creation Tool in the StoryGuide support that approach, very very helpful.

Nevertheless, whenever I encounter a new theory, I want to be pursuaded by the naked inner logic of the theory itself (the way I was pursuaded by Aristotles' Poetics years ago). So, let's stay within the argumentative boundaries of the book "Dramatica. A New Theory of Story" for one last time. Can you help me close the gap down the line, which keeps my mind from becoming a true believer?

1. Being given nothing but the book and one specific throughline of a single storyform (let's use the OS of Stephen's: http://goo.gl/f6sRxH), even an abolute beginner like me can easily tell what the 3 (or even 4) acts of this throughline look like:
- Act 1: The Past -> How things are changing
- Act 2: How things are changing -> The Future
- Act 3: The Future -> The Present

2. Listing the 6 necessary sequences in that throughline is not very hard, either:
- Sequence 1: Fact vs Fantasy
- Sequence 2: Fact vs. Security
- Sequence 3: Fact vs. Threat
- Sequence 4: Fantasy vs. Security
- Sequence 5: Fantasy vs. Threat
- Sequence 6: Security vs. Threat

3. But then I turn another page, reading:
"This is because there are exactly 24 scenes created at the Element level".

Exactly. At the element level.
Or as Chris puts it in his reply:
"There are all sorts of ways to figure out what goes on in a scene -- the 24 scene (minimum) using character element interactions is one."

Ok. Let's see how this one works...
Still being given nothing but the book and a storyform, I start out:
- Scene 1: Proven vs. Unproven
- Scene 2: Proven vs. Accurate
- Scene 3: Proven vs. Non-Accurate
- Scene 4: Unproven vs. Accurate
- Scene 5: Unproven vs. Non-Accurate
- Scene 6: Accurate vs. Non-Accurate
...

Hm.
This is were I start to speculate.
What might the other 18 scenes in this specific throughline of this specific storyform be? What are the other 3 quads, whose interactions have to be evaluated?

Please, don't get me wrong.
I don't believe in blueprints for literary fiction; neither am I looking for a paint-by-numbers-recipy for writing a story!
All I want is to arrive - in a purely theoretical, abstract, mathematical sense - at my personal Signpost of Understanding.

Thank you once more for all the support!
Yours,
Peter

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 20, 2014 10:42 am

The best way of imagining element interactions is through the objective characters to which the elements (characteristics) have been assigned. Each level has four quads. The elements have four levels (a total of 64 characteristics).

Now, there is a simple way to imagine how to get the 24 scenes. The first is to imagine the four levels of character elements (characteristics) are stacked vertically and that you have assigned the eight character archetypes -- each with two elements at each of the four levels for a total of 8 characteristics a piece. Then follow the pattern you identified above but substitute the archetype for the specific element. You'd end up with the following interactions using the quad of Protagonist/Antagonist/Sidekick/Skeptic (Proven/Unproven/Accurate/Non-accurate) pattern:

- Scene 1: Protagonist (Proven) vs. Antagonist (Unproven)
- Scene 2: Protagonist (Proven) vs. Sidekick (Accurate)
- Scene 3: Protagonist (Proven) vs. Skeptic (Non-Accurate)
- Scene 4: Antagonist (Unproven) vs. Sidekick (Accurate)
- Scene 5: Antagonist (Unproven) vs. Skeptic (Non-Accurate)
- Scene 6: Sidekick (Accurate) vs. Skeptic (Non-Accurate)

That's six scenes exploring one quad. There are four quads, so exploring the remaining three give you the 24 scenes. This assumes you explore the archetype interactions, not the individual element interactions.

If you want to explore the element interactions, multiply the number by 4 to account for the four layers of characteristics (motivations, methodologies, evaluations, and purposes) for a total of 96 direct character interactions based on the quad relationships of the character archetypes.
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 20, 2014 11:21 am

This makes perfect sense! Thank you, Chris, for your explanation and your patience!
Now I no longer have the feeling that I am missing something...

I must say, I am deeply impressed by the brilliantly developed theory behind Dramatica - since it works on so many levels and from so many perspectives simultaneously. Like a well told story does.

Regards,
Peter

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 21, 2014 1:20 am

P.S.: I have just opened the example storyform and created the 8 Archetypal characters...

Can I say
In a "standard" story there are 8 Archetypal characters: 4 Drivers, 4 Passengers - each of them consisting of four dimensions (Motivation, Purpose, Methodology, Means of Evaluation - which is reflected by stacking the Characteristics Quad)

Creating Scenes from Character Interaction therefore means evaluating
- each possible External relationship between Driver Characters (6)
- each possible Internal relationship between Driver Characters (6)
- each possible External relationship between Passenger Characters (6)
- each possible Internal relationship between Passenger Characters (6)

?

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 21, 2014 1:09 pm

I'm not sure of the value of viewing it that way, but yes -- that's the way it looks in terms of archetypes.

I think it's important to point out that very few stories (apart from children's stories) rely on pure character archetypes. Most stories use simple characters (one or two characteristics from a single dimension), or complex characters (characteristics from multiple dimensions in partial or non-archetypal patterns).
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Feb 22, 2014 6:24 am

I definitely agree with that.

Reducing the complex materia of Character Development to Archetypes is not what I am after, neither my intent as an author. But it personally helps me with getting kind of a feel for the multi-angle, multi-dimensional approach of the StoryMind model of Dramatica.

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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby stephenbuck415 » Feb 27, 2014 9:14 pm

On the side, Armando's book: Dramatica For Screenwriters is very valuable no matter what type of story you are writing.

Armando puts together some very basic methods to help the brainstorming and story creation process.

The BRIEF SYNOPSIS, for example, can be initially created with four sentences:

1st Sentence:
Driver + Consequence.

2nd Sentence:
Goal + Requirements.

3rd Sentence:
Forewarnings + Limit.

4th Sentence:
Driver + Outcome.

Combine those four sentences into a paragraph, and voila, you've got a brief synopsis.

Another example is the CHARACTER ARC SYNOPSIS:

1st Character Arc Synopsis:
MC Crucial + OC Crucial.

2nd Character Arc Synopsis:
MC Growth.

3rd Character Arc Synopsis:
MC Resolve + OC Resolve.

4th Character Arc Synopsis:
MC Judgment.

Write one or two sentences inspired by each of the above points, and you've got the basics of the Character Arc before you.

Armando gives suggestions for the Plot Synopsis, Throughline Titles, Throughline Summaries, and all in all his book makes for an incredible set inspirational guidelines.

Armando's book will help deepen your understanding of Dramatica Theory, and perhaps help make a previously unseen connection seen.
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Re: Theory vs. Software - Need help

Postby PeterSchwaiger » Mar 05, 2014 1:36 am

Thank you very much, Stephen!
I immediately ordered a copy...


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