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Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it take?

Posted: Feb 11, 2014 12:39 pm
by PeterSchwaiger
Dear Chris, dear Everybody!

Being a writer for many years now, I came across the Dramatic theory and software after having finished the first draft of a John-Irving-style 900-pages novel (and even being awarded for it), just to find myself totally stuck, having lost the big picture of what was going on at all (after 4 years of work).

Dramatica Story Expert helped me with clarifying my vision and pointing out things I was no longer able to see. It made me discover that one unique storyform which perfectly reflects the dramatic structure of my novel.

Here is a (very) brief description:
- In the 1960s my MC starts a family. He is tempted, makes a decision and looses it all. 20 years later he has started a family again. Tempted once more, he makes a contrary decision and - since the context has changed - looses it all again.
- My MC is the same person throughout the novel; for my IC I use handoffs between 3 women who have strong influence on my MC’s life.
- Readers will be presented with the events in a non-chronological order: starting out with chapter 1 of the second family’s story, followed by chapter 1 of the first family’s story, and so on … so when the characters in the second family’s story discover WHAT really has gone wrong in the past, the following chapter reveals HOW it went wrong (which both lead to the final, resolution act of the book).

The problem is - in order to achieve this „history repeating“-effect, my Storyweaving had to look like this: starting out shortly after Signpost 2 (Introduction of the second family) the second family’s story moves straightforward until it reaches Signpost 4 at the end of the book, while being intercut with scenes from the first family’s story, which begins at Signpost 1 (Starting a family for the first time) and moves straightforward until it reaches Signpost 2 at the end of the book.

The only alternative option - as far as I can see - is to use two storyforms, one for each family’s story, and interweave them (although none of them would make a „complete“ story and the latter would not have ever happened without the first).

So, finally, this is where I really really need your help:
Are there any questions I should consider - to help me with the decision whether I should use one storyform (and a rather complex Storyweaving) or better two?

Any suggestions are appreciated!
Thank you in advance,

Austria, Europe

Re: Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it t

Posted: Feb 17, 2014 7:23 am
by Geoff1975
I had been holding off on answering this until someone with a stronger view could chime in. Sorry. My instinct says go with the one story form. That way the audience wouldn't be trying to keep track of too many different themes.

Re: Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it t

Posted: Feb 17, 2014 10:54 am
by PeterSchwaiger
Dear Geoff,

Thank you for your input! That's exactly what I thought about it in the first place: a single sound Storyform to rely on while experimenting with rather eloborate Storyweaving.

On the downside, this way the journey from Signost 1 to 2 would take about half of the book, and therefore be disproportionately deeper explored than the Journeys from 2 to 3 to 4...

Messing with theme is, imho, not the point. To achieve the "history repeating"-effect, I think I would use exactly the same Storyform twice - perhaps with a little twist - or leaving out the exploration of one Type in one story, that of another (perhaps, it's dynamic pair) in the other...

Anyway, since I'm still unsure, the delay of this decision has provided me with a nice and rather pragmatic advantage: to gain a clearer view of my two storylines I put them into two .dr5 files with identical Storyforms. This way, I can have (b&w) pictures of my 60s hippie characters in one, color pics of my settled 80s characers in the other file. At least, this visually helps keeping me on track.


Re: Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it t

Posted: Feb 17, 2014 8:53 pm
by Geoff1975
Glad to read you're working with Dramatica. I would say stick with those two files. You should feel one way or the other is better after working with both for a while.

Re: Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it t

Posted: Feb 19, 2014 9:07 am
by Chris Huntley
Hey Peter --

The two ways your novel can be storyformed are the two you described: One storyform for the whole shebang or two storyforms (one for each family).

If the first family represents your MC's backstory, then the two storyform approach might be a better fit. The backstory need not be fully explored. You need only reveal enough to show why the MC is the way he is, but you may certainly show as much as you want.

My recommendation is to determine if the first family's part of the story contains all four throughlines that are part of the second family's story.

If it does (with mostly different players), then it may be the first signpost of the storyform that appears out of order chronologically due to storyweaving.

If it does not then you most likely have a main story (the second family) with a substory (the first family) acting as backstory and woven into the main story to compare and contrast each other.


Re: Storyweaving vs. Storiesweaving-How many Minds does it t

Posted: Feb 20, 2014 4:23 am
by PeterSchwaiger
Thank you, Chris, for this very focused advice!

Seems like sometimes we are looking for answers simply because the answer, we feel is the right one, is not the one we want to hear.
It' such fun to fiddle around with two storyforms and to have different pics for handoff characters and such.
But the truth is, of course all four throughlines are there and the same in both narrative strings, since the whole novel has been concepted as one complete story from the very start.

I think, I'll keep my two files while Illustrating, but keep in mind, that they both are only partly illustrations of one complete Story.