OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

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.
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yellowsub
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OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby yellowsub » Mar 28, 2008 11:09 pm

I've been using Dramatica (that I've been studying for the last 3 months) to work out what the problem is structurally with a novel that I have revised quite a few times. I have decided to pretty much rewrite and use the old material as a bouncing board.

My issue, currently, is that I have a Main Character who is impacted by the protagonist and the antagonist and the IC in different ways. The Antagonist is also a helper (Guardian) for the MC and I decided today that I would need to have a hand-off from the IC to the Antagonist because the Antagonist-as-the-IC does not come in till much later in the piece. I guess this means the Guardian function might have to go to someone else at that point.

Also, all my secondary characters (Archetypes) interact with the MC (currently). This leaves very few characters to run the OS line with my protagonist. At least, the way I see it. Because my two throughlines happen in different places and they both need complex characters to carry the story... how do I assign enough elements to everyone? And how do I figure out how to use the scenario construction prompts. I guess that I'll have to understand what the software is trying to do and split up the various items in the scene list... ie., decide when to introduce main character and protagonist, followed by the appropriate time for the antagonist and obstacle character.

When the scene list refers to the protagonist-- I guess I can choose whether to use the Protagonist or the MC or both?

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby Chris Huntley » Mar 31, 2008 10:16 am

When you ask, "When the scene list refers to the protagonist-- I guess I can choose whether to use the Protagonist or the MC or both?", I assume you refer to the scenes as enumerated in one of the structure templates. If that is the case, then "yes," the structure templates are set up to make the protagonist also the Main Character. Otherwise, this association between protagonist and Main Character is not assumed.

I suggest you break out from using archetypes in your story. It sounds as though you wish to explore characterization at a finer level that archetypes readily allow. For example, your "antagoist" might be a complex character that represents both Avoid/Prevent (an antagonist element) and Conscience (a guardian element). Making your characters complex gives you great freedom to create more interesting, unpredictable characters. It also gives you more latitude to give other players in the story a functional part in the Overall Story throughline.

Keep in mind that the build characters window in Dramatica Pro has FOUR levels of characteristics, not just the 16 motivation elements that you usually see when you open the window. That means there are 64 elements to divide among your characters, which lets you populate your story "world" more effectively than if you use character archetypes.

Chris Huntley
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Chris Huntley
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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby yellowsub » Mar 31, 2008 5:16 pm

Yikes... I wrote a long reply and then got prompted to log in and then lost everything. Let me see what I can recreate:

First of all... thanks for the reply... was helpful.

I've been assigning elements all over the place but keeping in mind the archetypes. Each character would need at least one element from one of the 4 quads right?

I had a second question which I'll put into another post later.

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby Chris Huntley » Apr 01, 2008 5:08 pm

When you create complex characters you are not limited to anything. You may choose to include elements from each level, or each quad, but that is your choice...nothing dictates that.

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby yellowsub » Apr 01, 2008 11:19 pm

Looks like I have to rethink how I've used the Build Characters window.

From your reply, it doesn't seem like these characteristics have to have a necessary relationship to make a decent Grand Argument.

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby Chris Huntley » Apr 02, 2008 1:12 pm

The archetypes are a convenient set of character elements because they are internally and externally consistent. Complex characters are simpler or more complicated than archetypes because they are less "well-balanced" but often more interesting. The elements indicate what the characters' functions are in the Overall Story throughline. They represent ways to approach the inequity at the heart of the OS throughline. How the characters "relate" to one another in ways other than their element functions is COMPLETELY at the discretion of the author. Assignment of the elements and establishment of character relationships is pure storytelling.
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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby yellowsub » Apr 06, 2008 9:51 am

The challenge for me is to hold both functional requirements and be inspired to assign storytelling elements. I think this is more relevant to writing a novel (which I'm doing) plus the fact that I write lit fic and that I have an established way of writing.

However, I find one of the side effects of using such a complex program is that while my left brain is occupied with sorting out the details, my right brain seems to be able to throw up interesting ideas.

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby Chris Huntley » Apr 08, 2008 9:30 am

I couldn't agree with you more. Dramatica is best used when you are in an analytical mode.

If you tend to be an organic writer where inspiration comes from endless possibilities, write first and use Dramatica after you have finished "creating" and are ready to figure out what it is that you have created. Dramatica is a handy tool to help you make sense of what you have produced. It helps you identify the core of the story and then acts as a measure for determining what is appropriate for the story and what might work better elsewhere in another story.

If you tend to be a structured writer where infinite choices sap inspiration and you require something to push against to get the creative juices flowing, use Dramatica early on to give you edges to push against. Once the story starts flowing, drop Dramatica and write.

Writing is a constant tug-of-war or tidal flow of creativity and analysis. Use the tools when and where they work best. This may be different from writer to writer, even from project to project. Use Dramatica to help you through the process. Do not let Dramatica get in your way.

This is a very roundabout way of saying that I wouldn't worry about assigning your characters specific characteristics unless you find them lifeless and structurally useless. That is when I would go into the Build Characters window and "find" some functionality for them.
Chris Huntley
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http://screenplay.com/

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Re: OS Story Vs Subjective storyline

Postby yellowsub » Apr 09, 2008 2:54 am

I don't know how it will work since this is the first time I'll be using Dramatica on a novel. I was getting desperate. Everytime I rewrote I didn't feel like I was on the right track (and a novel that was a finalist in a Lit Award for the Novel... which might not mean anything except that I'm perhaps a writer who has/had problems with structure).

As I keep working through on the template, I can see that I'll have to change so much (yet so litle if that makes sense)... but I feel closer to the 'intent' of the story.


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