Theme - struggling with terminology

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Theme - struggling with terminology

Postby AnneLyle » Oct 05, 2008 6:36 am

Hi there! This is my first post on the Dramatica forums, so go easy on me :)

I bought Dramatica Pro three years ago and was impressed with the theory, but found that I needed to explore my story through a first draft before I was ready to attempt a detailed analysis. So, when I got stuck on revisions recently, I installed Dramatica on my new laptop, experimented a bit with different storyforms, then set about working through the Level Three Storyguide. So far I've been pleasantly surprised at how Dramatica has anticipated some of my story decisions and made me think harder about others, but...I'm now nearing the end of Story Illustrating and am getting stuck on "Theme Development".

The choices I've made so far have resulted in the following OS factors:

OS Issue: Approach
OS Counterpoint: Attitude

I sort of understand the definitions of these, but I just can't get my head around how to apply them. Some of the other contrasting pairs (Truth vs Falsehood, Delay vs Choice) are easy to understand, but Approach vs Attitude...? :?

If it helps, the story is a historical mystery/thriller with lots of cloak'n'dagger stuff - murder, sabotage, spying, etc. - undertaken by characters who want to shake up, or preserve, the politicial status quo.

Thanks in anticipation!

(P.S. I did try searching before posting, but the search engine deemed that my search terms "theme", "attitude" and "approach" were all too common! :roll: )

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Re: Theme - struggling with terminology

Postby szore » Nov 08, 2008 4:42 am

Hey pal,

Did you download the PDF file on the book Dramatica: A new Theory of Story? In the back there is a dictionary. My take is that Approach refers to the methods one uses to solve a problem; attitude refers to a characters temperament while employing those methods (or Approach).


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Re: Theme - struggling with terminology

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 19, 2008 5:13 pm

Let's say you have a Kind Inspector, a Nasty Cop, and a frightened Witness in a room. Here's how an exploration of Attitude versus Approach might play out:

A frightened witness sits shaking on a chair by a table in a featureless interrogation room.

A Nasty Cop slams his fist on the table in front of the witness, points his finger at the startled witness' face and yells, "We know you know who did it! Tell us or we'll lock you up and throw away the key!!" The nasty cop gestures as if he is about to backhand the witness but stops when the door opens.

"We'll have none of that, officer," says the inspector as he enters the room. "Please leave this questioning to me." The inspector turns to the witness. "Would you like some water?"

The terrified witness quickly nods, "yes."

"Officer, please get our guest a cup of water," the inspector says and gestures the cop to leave the room. The cop stomps off, glaring back and forth between the inspector and witness. He slams the door as he exits.

The inspector sits on the edge of the desk and focuses on the witness with a friendly look on his face. The witness noticeably relaxes.

"Well, that's better. Now we can see if we can find out who is behind these awful murders. Do you think you might be able to help us?"...

In this example, I've given the Nasty Cop a negative attitude ("You're a hostile witness") and a negative approach ("I'll beat the #@%& out of you if I have to"). By contrast, I've given the Kind Inspector a positive attitude ("We're in this together") and a positive approach ("Let's take this calmly").

I could easily have mixed it up -- "You're a hostile witness" combined with "Let's take this calmly," or "We're in this together" with "I'll beat the @#%& out of you if I have to." Or illustrated the positives and negatives in any variety of ways.

The point is to explore the relative positives and negatives of EACH.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

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