Dramatica, Eastern storytelling, passive MCs

Come here to ask questions or give advice about the theory that forms the basis of Dramatica.
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Dramatica, Eastern storytelling, passive MCs

Postby rbrucecom » Feb 04, 2016 5:15 pm

Dramatica theory states the model is for western thinking stories... active protagonist, conflict, and character arc... telling all sides of the issues and the solution.
But in various translated stories I've read of the Eastern variety, it's often the reverse. The MC is passive, the victim of his/her environment or the villain. We follow the story of the MC to understand what they are going through and why, and the character arc is usually being steadfast in their honor, but no great change like in western stories. Also, resolution and conflict is not needed in the way in western stories do.

All that being said, as a personal exercise, there's a few such stories that I'd like to 'fill in the holes' as it were.
How should I model such a character in Dramatica to do that?
For example, a young chinese girl discovers that her family has sold her to a local lord in order to pay their debts. She becomes the lord's property, and endures the words and deeds of the young lord because it is her duty to her family. In the end, she is steadfast in her duty, but there is no resolution of gaining freedom, she is simply stronger.
Or a young asian man learns that he is conscripted into the local warlord's army, and though he lacks experience, fights (and dies bravely). His family receives a medal commemorating his bravery and service, and thus family honor is maintained.
Or a teenage girl entering adulthood learns that she is legally declared a slave once the government learns a secret about her father. She is taken to a farm, made to farm it for her owners, and has no rights. She accepts her place because she has no power or rights and enjoys farming. In the ending, she thinks "I am a good farmer, after all."

None of these are active main characters or active arcs for main characters.
Yes, I know that many of these will be a MC throughline of Situation, a Steadfast character, etc.
But the characters are not actively trying to solve their problem(s), they are simply trying to survive and stay true (where possible) to themselves or uphold their honor.

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Eastern storytelling

Postby adambein » Feb 04, 2016 8:30 pm

I'm no pro but I think the deal is is that until the Clergy showed up in the New World, the stories here (in the New World) and the 'East" didn't have the moral endings or fulfilling closure to which we are accustomed now. Um, an example of this might be a story with an unsatisfying ending. Saay... A man goes walking thru a jungle, a boulder falls on him, squishing him, it continues rolling, a tiger sees it, (now we follow the tiger) the tiger goes to the water and looks in it while it drinks, the water makes a gurgling sound that comes from heaven, blah blah blah. Um, I dunno if the term "Art for art's sake" is an accurate way to describe it... I saw a Modern Dance presentation once. A rectangular shaped girl in her 20's was dressed up like a bird. The colors were like autumn leaves. She had a cardboard beak and there were a bunch of sticks she assembled into a nest. She danced around. During the performance I thought "I bet the previous performance her foot placement was not exactly the same as this performance." A Jazz Dance or Ballet woulda been spot-on. So I'm saying that that unstructured/lacks structured presentation was dissatisfying and was arty for arts sake. <shrug>

So I'm gonna argue that you're barking up the wrong tree and combining characteristics wrong.

The MC/Protagonist combo regardless of whether or not that char is active or passive doesn't matter. Active & passive are not defining characteristics.

Uh, there's pleeenty of Western stories in which change does not occur. Hell, I think the entire genre of 'Romanticism' has no change. That's why ppl die standing up. 'Realism' followed 'Romanticism' and IT incorporated the change to which you refer (instead of dying standing up ppl'd rather live on their knees). I'm no pro, don't quote me on this, I'm just arguing/taking a side/expressing something to consider.

Resolution exists tho'. Just like in Western stories. There's 4 choices at the end: 1. Win/Win. 2. Lose/lose. 3. Win/Lose. 4. Lose/win. The Chinese girl is lose/win. Or the other way around. That's in the book.

The young man who gets conscripted and dies: Lose/Win.

The young girl farmer: Lose/win.

The character remained steadfast. There's your arc.

Your characters ARE trying to solve their problems. Not via an activity but...psychologically. Thus, they are 'being'. That's in the book too.

Good questions and examples and points.

Don't take any of what I've written/replied as being accurate or carved in stone. I'm not a pro like many of the others in this forum.

: )

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Re: Dramatica, Eastern storytelling, passive MCs

Postby adambein » Feb 06, 2016 8:55 am

I am not sure if I made an error. If you look in the book 'Dramatica, A New Theory of Story", on page 158, you'll find a grid. 'Grid of Dramatica Genres'. Based on that grid, your ideas may instead fall into the following categories:
'Exploration Drama'
'Bias Drama'
'Growth Drama'.

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