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IC Question

Posted: Jun 28, 2011 12:48 pm
by dono
I thought I had a good handle on how to choose a throughline for my Impact Character but now after reading the examples in the "Stories" section of the Query System in the Dramatica software I have some doubts.

Simply put, my understanding was that the throughline for the IC is supposed to be the area the IC will have an impact on for the MC. My MC has troubles with a fixed attitude and that was the area in which I would like to show his change. The IC has not got a fixed attitude, and in fact his freedom of thought and expression cause the MC to question his own fixed attitude.

In the Stories examples it seems as though all of the IC's themselves have fixed attitudes. I thought they were supposed to present an impact on the main character in the realm of the throughline chosen.

Is it okay if my Impact Character's throughline doesn't represent him at all, but rather the area I want him to address and change in my MC?

Thanks for any help or advice!

Re: IC Question

Posted: Jun 28, 2011 8:29 pm
by Clint541963
dono wrote:...
Simply put, my understanding was that the throughline for the IC is supposed to be the area the IC will have an impact on for the MC. My MC has troubles with a fixed attitude and that was the area in which I would like to show his change. The IC has not got a fixed attitude, and in fact his freedom of thought and expression cause the MC to question his own fixed attitude.

I always feel like I have to qualify my replies as only myself thinking out loud just trying to figure this out along with you (Process :P ). That being said it sounds like to me your MC's personal issue or problem is in the FIXED ATTITUDE throughline which (with the software) makes the MC a be-er. That puts your IC's personal issue in the SITUATION throughline. This does not make the IC a fixed attitude person. IC could be but that is not IC's issue here. IC's issue is being stuck in some kind of external situation. It also sounds like you want MC to be a change character and the IC to be a steadfast character. IC is steadfast in his freedom of thought and expression. In fact IC probably is the one who mostly influences MC to change from a be-er to a do-er and out of his fixed attitude. Now in the relationship throughline you get to choose MANIPULATION or ACTIVITY. I like the analogy of each signpost in the relationship throughline as a round in a boxing match between the MC and IC where each issue with all it's problems and symptoms (and solutions and responses) are bandied about with-in a concern
dono wrote:...In the Stories examples it seems as though all of the IC's themselves have fixed attitudes. I thought they were supposed to present an impact on the main character in the realm of the throughline chosen.
I guess if Dramatica represents the storymind in which a single mind is trying to solve an inequity You have the main character who wants/doesn't want X or to do/avoid X or to be/not to be X then the IC is there to influence MC to change their goal or to change their path or stop or start something. Then, like any argument, each side would at least start out with a fixed attitude of some sort otherwise there would be no conflict. the thing to understand is that the only reason to be in the FIXED attitude throughline is if your personal problem/issue is there.

dono wrote:...Is it okay if my Impact Character's throughline doesn't represent him at all, but rather the area I want him to address and change in my MC?
This I cannot answer. It doesn't sound quite right.
I hope this helps

Re: IC Question

Posted: Jun 28, 2011 10:51 pm
by dono
Perhaps I have become a little too MC-centric. I have begun to think that the MC/IC throughlines are mostly, if not entirely, about the MC.

So are we saying that the MC throughline is the area in which the MC needs to experience change--if he is, indeed, a "change" character--and that the IC throughline is the IC living their own problems and events in their throughline and that doing so creates the necessary impact on the MC to suggest or force change? An Impact Character, then, living in a Fixed Attitude throughline, would, somehow, by their fixedness, cause a change in an MC whose throughline is Situation. So one person's Fixed Attitude changes the MC's Situation.

And then, separate from all that, in the subjective story, we would have to create a way to illustrate that the way we are judging or observing the interaction between the two involves the way they think about things, or how they Manipulate or mentally juggle their lives, especially in ways that relate to one another's style of thinking.

An IC character who is Steadfast and Fixed Attitude throughlined, then, would be proven to be correct in their rigidity. We would see this proven in some kind of arena that showcased Manipulation or basically changing things around by using psychological methods, as opposed to physical ones.

Seeing as the remainging throughline is Activity, we would assign that to our Overall Story and notice that all the players seem to be engaged in some manner or other of physical activity and that somehow that style of engagement has caused our initial problem.

Am I on track here? I really appreciate your input.

Re: IC Question

Posted: Jun 29, 2011 3:44 am
by Clint541963
I am on my way to work so will reply later but in the meantime I copied entries from the Dramatica Dictionary regarding Impact Character. I seem to remember hearing that a steadfast character's concern or problem is their drive or source of drive. Does that sound right?
Dramatica Dictionary


Impact Character -- [Main vs. Impact Throughline Character] -- The character that forces the Main Character to face his personal problem -- Every Main Character has a single Impact Character that forces him to face his personal problems. From the Main Character's point of view, the Impact Character may seem to be blocking the road to the solution of the Main Character's personal problem, or he may seem to be trying to knock the Main Character off the road to the solution. In a more objective view, the Impact Character functions to block the Main Character from sweeping his personal problem under the carpet, forcing the Main Character to address it directly. In every act, a story problem is introduced that requires the Main Character to expose his personal problem in order to solve the story problem. It is the Impact Character that creates the most personal tension for the Main Character. Frequently, the Main Character is chosen by the author to be the Protagonist as well, and often the Impact Character function is combined with the Guardian or the Contagonist. In this way, they each do double duty as prime movers of both the Overall (Objective) and Main vs. Impact concerns of the story. This arrangement is not essential, however, and in many cases it is prudent to assign the Main and Impact Character roles to characters other than the Protagonist and Guardian/Contagonist in order to clearly explore the relationship between the Overall and Main vs. Impact problems of the story.

Impact Character Approach -- [Character Dynamic] -- By temperament, Impact Characters (like each of us) have a preferential method of approaching problems. Some would rather work things out externally, others would rather work things out internally. There is nothing intrinsically right or wrong with either approach, yet it does affect how one will respond to problems. Choosing "Do-er" or "Be-er" does not prevent a Impact Character from using either approach, but merely defines the way he is likely to first approach a problem, using the other method only if the first one fails.

Impact Character's Benchmark -- [Type] -- The standard against which the Impact Character's concern is measured -- The way of telling how much the Impact Character is dealing with the issues at stake for him in the story is by choosing an item in the story and using it as a measuring stick. This can be subtle or obvious, illustrated perhaps by the number of empty beer cans next to an alcoholic's bed, the severity of a facial tick, or the amount of perfume a character puts on. How ever it is illustrated, it needs to be there to give both the audience and the Impact Character some way of judging how deep his concern is and how far along in the story he is.

Impact Character's Concern -- [Type] -- The area of the Impact Character's cares, interests, or goals -- The Impact Character will be interested in achieving some degree of growth or control over things described by this appreciation. This could be in terms of concrete or abstract things, depending partly on the Impact Character's Domain and partly on the twist the author wants to put on that Domain.

Impact Character's Critical Flaw -- [Variation] -- The item that undermines the Impact Character's efforts -- The Impact Character's Critical Flaw undermines his effectiveness against the Main Character in general, but especially in regards to his Unique Ability. The Impact Character in any story has a Unique Ability which makes him uniquely qualified to thwart the Main Character. But in his character as well is a Critical Flaw which prevents him from just totally overwhelming the Main Character. This is again a trait which is unique to this particular character.

Impact Character's Issue -- [Variation] -- the nature of The Impact Character's efforts -- An Impact Character's Issue captures the essence of what that character will represent in the story. The nature of the things he does, intends to do, and effectively means to the passionate argument of the story are all linked in this appreciation.

Impact Character's Problem -- [Element] -- The source of the Impact Character's drive -- In every Impact Character there exists some inequity that is driving him. If the Impact Character Changes something in himself in response to the Main Character's Steadfastness, it is this item, his Problem, which he changes by exchanging it for his Solution. If the Impact Character is Steadfast, though, then he holds onto his problem, deepening his resolve to keep the same motivations at the end of the story as he had when he began the story.

Impact Character Problem Solving Style -- [Character Dynamic] -- Much of what we are as individuals is learned behavior. Yet, the basic operating system of the mind is cast biologically before birth. Talents, intellectual capacity, instincts - all of these are not learned, but inherited. Among these traits are those specific to females and others specific to males. To be sure, we can go a long way toward balancing out those traits, yet that does not eliminate them nor diminish their impact. In dealing with the psychology of a Impact Character, it is essential to understand upon which foundation his experience rests.

Impact Character's Response -- [Element] -- The direction of the Impact Character's efforts -- An Impact Character can never be sure if what he believes to be the source of his problem really is the source of his problem. Regardless, based on his way of seeing things, he will determine a potential solution or response by which he hopes to find the solution. The dramatic unit that describes what a Impact Character believes is the path to a solution is his Response.

Impact Character's Solution -- [Element] -- what is needed to truly satisfy The Impact Character's motivation -- The Solution Element is the "flip side" of the Problem Element. For the Impact Character, it is the element that would alleviate the Impact Character's drive which his Problem Element supplies. It is not necessarily applied during a story, but it exists in every story nevertheless.

Impact Character's Symptom -- [Element] -- Where the Impact Character's attention is most directed -- The Impact Character concentrates his attention where he thinks his problem lies. Just as in the Main Character, an inequity exists in the Impact Character between himself and his environment which is driving him. The actual nature of this inequity is described by the Impact Character Problem Element. The nature of what is required to restore balance is described by the Impact Character Solution Element. From the subjective view afforded to the Impact Character though, the inequity does not appear to be between himself and the Environment but wholly in one or the other. The Symptom Element describes the nature of how the problem appears to the Impact Character from his subjective point of view. Symptom really describes the effects of the Impact Character Problem element, but because the Problem element is on the level of his own motivations, Impact Characters can never see his actual problems without solving them.

Impact Character Throughline -- [Domain] -- The dramatic progression which builds the Impact Character's pressure on the Main Character to change -- The Impact Character is defined by its relationship to the Main Character. The Main Character represents the audience's position in the story which, in a sense, represents our sense of self within our own minds. When we consider changing our outlook in regard to a particular issue, we entertain an alternative viewpoint which we examine thoroughly before either adopting or rejecting. The Impact Character represents that alternative point of view. In stories, as in our own minds, this alternative view is seen from where we are positioned currently. After all, when it comes to changing something about who we are, we don't just make that change without first trying to understand what kind of person we would become and trying to anticipate how it might affect our situation. Over the course of the story, as the Main Character grows, the Impact Character must keep pace to provide alternative perspectives on all the key experiences the Main Character encounters. In this way, the best possible argument for adopting the new viewpoint is made, and the current and alternative paradigms can be judged fully against each other. This is how we arrive within ourselves to a point of change, and how the Impact Character drives the Main Character to the same point. For the author, the Impact Character Throughline is the progression through all of the issues which come up while providing alternative perspectives to the Main Character's currently held views. For an audience, the Impact Character Throughline simply describes the kinds of activities and concerns addressed by the Impact Character as he moves through the plot. The broadest description of the Impact Character's impact in a specific story -- Everything that emanates from what the Impact Character does and represents which primarily relates to his impact alone, as opposed to specific relationships he has with other characters, can be said to be part of the Obstacle Character Domain. There are four different Domains in the structure of any story, represented by the combination of each of the four Classes with each of the four throughlines the Overall Story Throughline, the Main vs. Impact Story Throughline, the Main Character Throughline, and the Impact Character Throughline. The Impact Character Throughline describes, in the broadest single term, what the Impact Character represents and the area in which the Impact Character operates within the story.

Impact Character's Unique Ability -- [Variation] -- The item that makes the Impact Character uniquely able to thwart the Main Character -- The reason the Impact Character is able to carry half of the Main vs. Impact Story is his unique suitability to take the opposite position to the Main Character on the Crucial Element of the story. The Impact Character Unique Ability gives the Impact Character a power which no one else in the story has to be able to affect the Main Character. The nature of this power is what is described by this appreciation.

Re: IC Question

Posted: Jun 29, 2011 2:03 pm
by Chris Huntley
The MC and IC throughlines act as point and counterpoint on the inequity in the story from personal and "impersonal" perspectives. The change character, whether it is the MC or IC, adopts the viewport of the steadfast character. So a Fixed Attitude Change MC is influenced by a Situation Steadfast IC, and ultimately adopts the perspective of the Situation IC -- meaning that the MC now evaluates his world as defined by his situation, not his fixations, biases, or preconceptions. For example, in Phat Girlz, the MC is overweight and has trouble because of her plus size (Domain of Situation). She meets a man that comes from a culture where "fat" women are cherished (Domain of Fixed Attitude). His attitude challenges the MC's world view that being big is troublesome. Eventually, she adopts his attitude, which allows her to move forward with creating a line of clothes for plus-sized women.

The OS and Relationship (SS) throughlines act as point and counterpoint on the story inequity from objective and subjective perspectives. The OS shows the audience the dispassionate, distanced view of the story. The SS provides the audience with the passionate, emotional view of the story. These two throughlines show the audience the tug-of-war that goes on between the head and the heart. So even though the relationship throughline has both the MC and IC in it, it is not about them individually but together in a relationship.

Re: IC Question

Posted: Jun 30, 2011 8:46 pm
by dono
Thanks, Sam, for being willing to help me try to understand what I was missing.

And as usual, Chris, thanks for shining a light on the dark recesses of my ever-more illluminated understanding of Dramatica!