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Help with Impulsive Responses

Posted: Jan 06, 2011 2:11 pm
by gabriel17
In my story the Main Character has spent his entire life rejecting and repressing parts of himself that he finds distasteful, so his throughline is about facing and then accepting himself for who he really is. I'm happy with the story form that Dramatica has given me, however I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the Main Character Concern of Impulsive Responses

My understanding of Fixed Attitude is that the problem is psychological rather than physiological and that's where I've hit a brick wall. I’m trying so hard to make his problem mental rather than physical that I have to wonder if I haven’t missed the point.

Here are my thoughts so far:

Even if his problem is physical, which it kind of is, the real problem isn’t the thing that he's repressing, but
his attitude towards it that causes him to repress it in the first place. This ties in to the MC Problem of Trust - he's accepted the guidance of others who have instilled within him the belief that this part of himself is disgusting and should be repressed.

If he had Tourette’s Syndrome for example, would that be a Domain of Situation or Fixed Attitude? If the problem is controlling his Tourette’s then that might fall under the Domain of Situation and Concern of How Things Are Changing (his progress towards controlling it). If however, the problem is his own attitude towards it (say he’s obsessed with it, or he doesn’t care how it affects others) then wouldn’t that be Domain of Fixed Attitude and Concern of Impulsive Responses?

As I write this, I'm getting the feeling that I'm on the right track. A Main Character doesn't see his MC Problem because he's preoccupied with its Symptoms. Which is exactly the case in my story. My main character is so busy trying to suppress the parts of himself that he sees as disgusting, that he doesn't realise that the real problem lies with his unquestioning acceptance of his mentors' point of view. Therefore because it's only a symptom It doesn't really matter whether the problem as he sees it is a physical or mental one as long as it's consistent with the rest of the story.

I think that's correct, but I've been stuck on this part of the story for so long that I'm more than a bit wary of trusting an intuition that seems to have appeared out of nowhere within the last five minutes.

A third party opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Help with Impulsive Responses

Posted: Jan 06, 2011 6:39 pm
by phillybudd
Wow, really terrific and huge question! Although maybe you could get more specific.

For example, you say "If he had Tourette’s Syndrome for example..." which leads me to think that isn't the real problem. If it is, a concern of Impulsive Responses would make perfect sense. On the other hand, whatever the real problem is (physical, physiological, etc), remember that "impulsive responses" can also be called (according to the theory) innate responses, responses that come involuntarily, responses that are not learned, rather than those coming from the input from his mentor, which would be learned responses. Could it be, for example, that his innate responses are that he isn't revolting, conflicting with the mentor's input?

All that said, I agree that you seem to be on the right track. In my experience with Dramatica so far, these things fall into place if you trust that the storyform on which you've settled is the right one, as you seem to have done. When I find myself focusing on a particular point (issue, element, item, thing) that isn't making sense to me, that's when I know I have to turn my attention elsewhere and leave it alone for a while. (I went through this recently when my MC's solution showed up as inaction... I despaired over it for days, but not long after deciding to let it be and turn my attention elsewhere, "inaction" became an epiphany.)

Hopefully Chris can chime in and offer some additional thoughts, but it sounds to me, again, like you're absolutely on the right track.


by the way, I use the voice memo feature on my iPhone to record thoughts during the day, and when I had this "epiphany" I was shouting "Oh My God... Oh My God!" into the phone. Everybody around me just thought I was having an intense conversation.

Re: Help with Impulsive Responses

Posted: Jan 07, 2011 2:07 pm
by gabriel17
Thanks for replying so quickly Jeff and you’re right, the main character’s problem isn’t Tourette’s. I’ll explain a bit more about my story.

I’m writing a science fiction novel in which the main character is experiencing an identity crisis. In his back story, an unknowing contact with the antagonist lead to the discovery that instead of being the son of a long deceased nobleman, the main character was actually a kind of “test tube baby”. Horrified by this revelation the main character joined a kind of “religious order” in order to affirm his identity and it was there that he adopted the opinions of his mentors.

However, the part of him that comes from his biological father continues to manifest itself in uncomfortable or inappropriate reactions to the world around him. Thus in order to maintain the integrity of his identity, the main character must constantly struggle against what he sees as the heritage of his “impure birth”. The MC Throughline is concerned with the nature of this struggle as it plays out within the Objective Story. The OS itself is concerned with the protagonist’s struggle to survive the antagonist’s efforts to kill him and places the main character within a conflict that is linked to his biological father.

What I’m trying to do is define the nature of the problematic reactions that the main character has inherited from his father, which is why I used Tourette’s as an example. This is the problem that I’m trying to solve and I wonder if, as the Dude might put it, my thinking about this case has become very uptight. Have I missed the point? By attempting to define these problematic reactions as mental and not physical, am I wasting time on something that doesn’t matter?

Re: Help with Impulsive Responses

Posted: Jan 07, 2011 5:18 pm
by Chris Huntley
Tourette's itself may, or may not, be the source of conflict. In other words, Tourette's is not INHERENTLY problematic. It is only problematic in context.

-- If it is a physical condition that affects the MC's status (health or standing among others), then it is a Situation.

-- If it is a physical condition that is out of control and causes physical complications (imagine him working on a film sound stage, or as a Disney figure at the Magic Kingdom), then it could be an Activities issue.

-- If the character is biased because of the condition, or considered by others in a negatively biased manner, then it could be in the Fixed Attitude throughline.

-- If the Tourette's interfers with the character's ability to think, then it could be manipulation (Psychology).

YOU get to choose how you want your subject matter considered.

Impulsive responses describe the character's preconscious. These are the built in (or developed) filters that color the way we see, and react to, the world. If you want this to be something related to his genetic heritage, then preconscious/impulsive responses is a good choice. If it is more of a physical trait, then go for "how things are changing" (e.g. Progress).

If your character prefers to be a Be-er, then use preconscious. If your MC prefers to act as a Do-er, then use one of the physical domains for him.

I hope this helps.

Re: Help with Impulsive Responses

Posted: Jan 09, 2011 8:51 am
by gabriel17
Thanks for your help Chris.

I was getting so bogged down in trying to make my ideas conform to the story form that I forgot that Dramatica is a tool not a strait jacket. The Domains aren't absolute values that dictate the story, they're "areas of context" within which to examine it. When I think about it like that, then I realise why I've chosen my particular story form. The main character's DNA isn't the problem itself, but it causes problems by challenging his opinions and beliefs about his identity, hence his Domain of Fixed Attitude.

Gentlemen, I am very much obliged to you both. Thank you.