The Crucial Element & Story Engine Settings

Discuss the practical use of Dramatica. Have questions about how throughlines should be used, how to create Complex Characters or even the various combinations of the 12 Essential Questions and how they will affect your story go here.

The Crucial Element & Story Engine Settings

Postby mgarrido2440 » Dec 19, 2009 2:07 am

Hello, Mr. Huntley, thank you in advance for your help.

I bought Dramatica a few years back and I felt in love with it the first time I read it. My goal is to create Complete Argument Stories, which I will then turn into screenplays.

Based on my understanding of the theory, I wanted a hero for my first story, so I looked at the eight Elements that make up a Protagonist and chose Actuality as the Crucial Element. Then I went to the Story Engine and chose Actuality as the OS Problem and as the MC Problem. Then, knowing the MC Dynamics and the OS Plot Dynamics, I toyed with the Story Engine until it chose the OS Themes and the other Appreciations. Finally, I got a Storyform I believe I want.

When I printed the Story Engine Settings, I noticed that the Element Actuality is not only the Problem for the MC and the OS, which is great, but also for the SS. Likewise, the Element Perception shows as the Solution for all three Throughlines. For the IC, the Element Knowledge shows as the Problem and the Element Thought as the Solution. The Element Knowledge is a Decision Characteristic of the Protagonist and the Element Thought a Decision Characteristic of the Antagonist.

Again, based on my understanding, I am making the IC an Objective Complex Character, representing the Guardian and Reason Archetypes. However, if I follow the theory the IC should be the Antagonist, which is the Archetype with the other Element (Perception) in the Dynamic Pair and with the Action Characteristic.

I believe the OS Class is a Situation: For example, US Immigration laws govern all citizens, Americans or not. Some may see them as fair others as bias, and that it is in my opinion the Actuality that affects the Overall Characters. If this is right, then the MC Class is an Activity: MC pursuits getting his lover into USA, legally or illegally. Looking at the Dynamic Pairs, the IC Class is Psychology and the SS Class is Mind. Concerns and Issues fall into place automatically.


1. Am I being a perfectionist?
2. Should I be happy that the Element Actuality is the same for the OS, MC, and SS?
3. Is it okay if IC does not have the greatest dramatic influence to change MC?
4. What will the experts in Hollywood think?
5. I believe the OS Class is a Situation and the MC Class is Physics, do you?

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Chris Huntley
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Re: The Crucial Element & Story Engine Settings

Postby Chris Huntley » Dec 20, 2009 9:09 am

Well articulated descriptions of your story settings and interests.

Here are your answers:

1. Yes, but that isn't a problem unless you let it keep you from writing or finishing.

2. Yes, that is the nature of some storyforms, including yours apparently.

3. I'm not sure why you think the IC is not having the greatest dramatic influence on your MC. He will whether you like it or not as long as you include him. If you're worried about the IC Crucial Element, don't be. It's overrated.

4. I haven't a clue what the Hollywood experts will think. That's the $300M question. The storyform is the part that lets you identify your author's intent. You then need to encode and weave the story elements and pray that it is received well by the audience. Lots can go right or wrong in that process. Your chances, IMO, are better with you aware of the underlying dramatics of your story than not. You'll have fewer obvious pitfalls to fall into as you write.

5. Those domains sound fine. You haven't described the MC enough to lock it down as Physics (Activities), but that domain choice would be a more "Hollywood" choice than Psychology (Manipulation).
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

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