A challenge to the Dramatica team and others – can you help

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.
MadsNilsson

A challenge to the Dramatica team and others – can you help

Postby MadsNilsson » Apr 15, 2015 8:37 am

I find it a bit hard defining and understanding a story goal, as, I understand it, Dramatica Theory prompts me for this before the MCs storyline. Maybe I have misunderstood something. I have a story, but I do not know the story goal as described by Dramatica. Neither do I find the right impact character.

In the theory, I do not find any stories related to this question. They ALL have big Story Goals seen from a birds’ perspective. My story is told from the MC’s.

****When to enter the story? (Yes – I know – from the start, but some conflict here with the story goal as it is not revealed yet) ****
At WHAT point in the story DOES the story goal ticks in? Meaning; People DO learn and discover along the way. In the beginning, the story goal could be: “Making a successful and spectacular reality series, but taking chances with a serum manipulating the dna of the participants”?.

When my Main Character Realizes he has made a big mistake and tries (for the first time) to restore law and order – or die (they are in a remote place, murders after them, they have to run). It would be quite dull with just the escape as the story goal as my story build up in long waves…

On the other side – that is what is on stake, as I see it? But the MC doesn’t realizes this until the third act?


*** Like an exercise – how would you describe the story goal in “Yes man”****
Jim Carrey cannot say “no”. Who is the impact character? His friend forcing him to action? The girl he falls in love with? Doesn’t his change also change the story goal?

My story (from the MCs view. What would be the story goal?) “Atomic winter”
An alcoholic and abounded director undertakes realizing his insane wild idea of a reality show. The Broadcaster needs ratings to survive. The show will take place in a dome in the Antarctica. The participants are drugged to act like Neanderthals. It all falls apart in violence, but the broadcaster wants him to continue. Armageddon breaks loose as the dome burst and people starts to kill each other. He realizes his ideas involves real consequences and have to cope with consequences for the first time of his life. Else he and the cast will die.

Is that a story goal or a throughline?

What about the Impact Character? Isnt the IC a character that sets the story in motion? It could be
1) The Main Character’s longing for Career/Approval from the audience
2) The BIG reality show taking chances never taken before?
3) MCs love he find among one of the participants, a Schizophrenic women (the chick of one of the bad guys).

I am confused. I tried to use Dramatica to simplify my story, but find it more complicated after fitting struggle it to fit the interface. I have really did an effort to struggle myself through Dramaticas prompts as I believe the software could elevate the story/plot. Then, again, I stumble and fall. I realizes after filling in 200 answers that I did something wrong at Q50.

Below you willl find my outline. Can someone help me narrow it down to: Story goal, MC, who is the impact character?

****
Some issues
- Who is the impact character? My character sucks for attention and audience in the beginning, realizing he sucks for another girl later – and then for surviving? Who is the trigger? The girl? The survivor? The broadcaster (as my main character is a director)?
- Back to one – I really TRIED to describe a story goal, but as the story changes, the story goal changes. Here are some takes:
- WHO, GOAL, OBSTACLE?

****Some takes on story goal (am I in the right direction here?)*****
Take 1: An alcoholic director tries to save his career, realizing a crazy and wild reality show, but people dies. For the first time in his life, he realizes his fantasy involves real consequences and have to cope with fear for the first time

Take 2: An alcoholic director realizes his monstrous reality show at the Antarctica gets REAL people killed. He tries to turn it down, but one of the participants will do anything to stop him

Take 3: A reality show in the Antarctica goes overboard and REAL people are killed at the best watch time. The director wants to turn it down, but one of the participants will do anything to stop him

****** SYNOPSIS*****

At a bar, a wash drunken and recently abandoned reality director (Mattias) brags about his brilliance and his crazy idea of a reality show in front of a broadcaster representative (Slynning). Mattias doesn’t know this.
As Mattias’ career flushed down the drain, he drinks too heavy. His girlfriend leaves him. His only chance is to undertake to realize the sick reality series to save himself and TV CEE from bankruptcy.

(Later – end) Mattias’ idea goes total overboard, people starts killing each other, and for the first time in his life, Mattias understand he has to take consequences of his actions to save himself and other human beings.

Mattias’ reality series Idea:
Twenty-four people shall live in a dome with artificial atmosphere and plants from the era of the Precambrian. The dome is located in a deserted place in the Arctic. Half of the participants will have a serum, which will turn them into Neanderthals. The rest will live with the intellect intact. The aim is to determine which civilization survives. A big glass wall will separate these worlds in the dome.

Realization, meeting Zorac and Cynthia + second thoughts from Mattias
Mattias is not accustomed taking consequences and become anxious as he realizes the concept will hit air. TV CEE really need a television success.

As the casting process begins, we get to know the sociopath ZORAC. He is fleeing from drug debt and aims to win the huge prize (1 bill dollars), whatever the cost will be. Zorac also has a girlfriend (Cynthia) whom he manipulates. Cynthia is bipolar, drugged and suffering from Schizophrenia. When Mattias first sees Cynthia; immediate interest.

In the preproduction process, Mattias doubts several times. Things are moving too fast. Like the serum thing he see tested on animals and human beings in Munich. People gets insane! In Munich we meet THE PROFESSOR behind the serum. In the casting process, SLYNNING (TV CEE) ignores the advices from psychologists, telling which participant will fit or not. The participants has to sign a contract, obliging them to go into the series with their life on stake.

The show kicks off – but Zorac fakes taking an injection
It is show start. The participants arrives the remote Artic area.
Before they enter the dome, they all have to take an injection. Some of them get the real serum that turns them into Neanderthals, some get placebo. Everything caught on camera. Zorac pretends taking the Neanderthal-serum. Mattias and Slynning divides the group in two, by the one injected with real serum and not. Zorac pretends to be a Neanderthal and ports that half of the bubble (as the only one with his intellect intact).

The show goes overboard, but Slynning (representing the broadcaster, pushes)
The series soon turns wild. The participants soon exposes violence in a way audience has never seen. The worlds apart by the glass wall, look curious at each other. TV Cee V/Slynning is ALWAYS pushing Mattias to go further. Slynning knows about Mattias alcohol problem and his problem getting a job, so Mattias does what he says.

Removal of the glass wall - Armageddon
As the ratings falls, viewers require the artificial wall between the two worlds removed. The Broadcaster forces Mattias to turn it off, even though he is afraid the consequences.

This is when things really goes bad. Participants start to kill and eat each other. Viewers love it, but the moral dilemma tortures Mattias who realizes that this is real people, not just puppets. The broadcaster does not agree – it is all about ratings, even if it costs lives.

As a result, the Production team leaves the production, one by one. They cannot live witnessing the situation in the bubble evolves into pure madness. The team cannot bear all the violence and cannibalism.

Mattias wants to save the bad situation. He even agree, by request of the viewers, entering the bubble to turn the wall on again. His plan is then to turn off the system and lay down the series. By doing this, Mattias is all of the sudden a participant in a program he has created.

Mattias alone in the bubble, struggling to end the show
He is alone and scared. Mattias has always been afraid. He meets Cynthia and realizes that he can reach through to Cynthia’s schizophrenia, occasionally. He hopes she will save him.

For the first time in his life: Mattias MUST take the consequences of his actions and stop this series. Zorac, however, want the series to continue, as he sees a chance to win the prize money and survive creditors.

Zorac therefore do everything to keep the wall down, keeping the series alive. As the series has no rules, Zorac tries to prevent Mattias to end it all. Meanwhile Mattias falls in love with Cynthia.

Armageddon
At the same time, Armageddon is to break loose. Zorac’s creditors has seen Zorac on TV and have travelled to the location to crave their debts. As the team has left the dome, it is an easy job to take the control over the dome. The intruders ignores warnings from the last Scientifics. In the end, the bubble bursts. It becomes minus 40 degrees inside, and every man left has to escape. At the port there will be a ferry, just taking those onboard that Mattias or the Broadcaster approves.

Zorac understand that he has lost it. He now wants to survive. He knows that Mattias is his ticket out – and run with Cynthia and Mattias over the ice to the port. The last scooter is taken by SLYNNING.

Zorac has to depend on Mattias to get approval to enter the boat, but at the same time, he doesn’t know about Mattias interest in Cynthia. At this point, Mattias and Cynthia is bonding.

They forces the snow and ice, on their way to the port. Mattias has to kill Zorac know or getting killed himself if Zorac will find out. He has to trap Zorac into something. He has to use violence for the first time in his life.

They find Slynning in an abonded small cottage, near the port. He is half frozen to death as the gas went out of his scooter.

Zorac killed – the end
At the end – Mattias and Cynthia manipulate Zorac. Cynthia killes Zorac (Mattias doesn’t dare – but lure her into it). They end up at the boat. Mattias have learned a lesson. Be happy without to much responsibilities. He takes care of Cynthia and start a new career.

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"At what point does the story goal kick in?".

Postby adambein » Feb 04, 2016 8:14 pm

Now that is a good question.
Regarding everything else you posted, lemme reply after I've had a while to look over what you've posted and think a bit (I see it's been a while).

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Defining and Understanding a story goal.

Postby adambein » Feb 19, 2016 12:01 pm

Hi,

You wrote: "I find it a bit hard defining and understanding a story goal, as, I understand it, Dramatica Theory prompts me for this before the MCs storyline. Maybe I have misunderstood something. I have a story, but I do not know the story goal as described by Dramatica. Neither do I find the right impact character.

In the theory, I do not find any stories related to this question. They ALL have big Story Goals seen from a birds’ perspective. My story is told from the MC’s."

-----------------
That's a good question actually. I've found that there's been some serious splitting of hairs when it comes to defining a story goal for one of my stories myself. Given the importance of the story goal, figuring what the story goal is is very, very important and is a big, big deal. Perhaps you're like me and you've got an IDEA of the story goal/you are in the ballpark of having a story goal. Perhaps you were like me and had a theme/genre FOR your story, but you needed to whittle THAT down/be more specific. I also had some ideas about the characters I'd like to have in my story as well.

You know what it felt like? It felt like I had walked into the kitchen at 10:30 pm and said "I'm hungry. I'm gonna make something. What though?" While I had a thought and some ideas would come along readily, I was geared for something in particular (food!) but I had to take an inventory of what categories of ingredients I had on hand/what options there were. THEN comes the fundamental ingredient "Well, we've got ____________." It seems to me that a story gets going that way in one facet. Am I right when it comes to your story? Do you have some essential elements you wanna see in it? List those.

Another issue I knew I had was the topic of 'variation'. This came up due to me having a bunch of "No, that won't work"s . You know that film 'Die Hard'? What if instead of the Cop John McClane being stuck in a skyscraper that terrorists had taken over he was stuck in something else? A cruise ship. An airplane. A battleship and he was a chef (that Steven Segal film). In a mall. In a hospital-ooh, yeah! A hospital gets taken over by terrorists and the only one on the inside who can help is a has-been cop who's now a Security Guard! There we go-snap! I hope this illustrates the variation one can have once one is in the ballpark of having an idea for a story.

In and of itself this may not be the end of finding the goal OF your story, but what it can do is it facilitates the popping up of elements that prior to this weren't popping up/occurring to you. Then back off of one variation can remove those options. For example, if John McClane WAS trapped in a hospital that had been taken over by terrorists, was his goal and the story goal to stop the terrorists or was it to get the pediatric patients out alive? Big difference.

Let's add something to THAT concept that will let us take AWAY the concept of John McClane's personal goal and instead, focus on the story goal. We'll use another character to shed some light on this difference. What if the Mayor of the City in which the terrorists took over the hospital had a personal goal of being the Governor of the State? While the story goal and the MC goal is to get the kids out alive, the Mayor's PERSONAL goal is to become Governor and the story goal in which the Mayor is participating is to get the kids out alive-BUT, he wants to keep the kids in longer and longer so that he can get his face on the television and reach out to voters. So what you end up with is the Mayor being in the actual way OF the story goal. Get it? This illustrates the difference between a character's personal goal and the story goal. And in this case, can lead the way to some serious dynamics, as the Mayor tosses in some barriers to actually getting the kids out just so he can have his face on TV.

I'm going to assume that you have a set of activities or a situation or a theme in which pretty much all your characters together are involved/are effected. Figure out what THAT is will definitely get you in the ballpark of what your story goal is. However, whittling down the actual goal, refining the actual goal, can't happen at this point. I propose that you have to do other things as a writer/story assembler before you can come up with the true goal: You have to go thru the cupboards in the kitchen and clarify what categories of ingredients you have first, and THEN you can make decisions as to your story goal.

Here's why: I don't care if I've got a can of French Vanilla coffee, a french coffee press, a lightning-fast electric water kettle, a timer, my favorite coffee mug, AND sugar-if I don't have any creamer I am NOT making COFFEE.

Clarify the categories of your ingredients, then clarify your ingredients. Clarify your genre, your Supportive Sidekicks, your location, whittle it down to some themes and some bad guys, conceive of some bad guy henchmen types, clarify some hurdles you'd like to see, clarify some more structural roles of characters, and so on and the whole mess will come together as options and choices are automatically ruled out.

John McClane on a blimp! Um, no. Too small. John McClane on a submarine! John McClane in a hockey stadium! John McClane in a Thrifty Drug store! "Clean up the dead terrorist, aisle 3. Sale on 'Chocolate Brownie single scoop ice cream cones at the ice cream counter!'. The more you get in the ballpark the more your ballpark gets smaller and more refined.

The IC will appear and clarify as you have needs in your story arise. You may very well need a bad guy (Antagonist) and a set of Contagonists first. Plus a Guardian character too.

Keep working on it. You can do it.

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When to enter the story?

Postby adambein » Feb 19, 2016 12:03 pm

You wrote:
" ****When to enter the story? (Yes – I know – from the start, but some conflict here with the story goal as it is not revealed yet) **** "

I can't help you with this question. However, the answer to this may start to clear up as other elements become clear. So, don't worry about this at this point.

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Jim Carrey in 'Yes Man'.

Postby adambein » Feb 19, 2016 12:04 pm

You wrote: " *** Like an exercise – how would you describe the story goal in “Yes man”****
Jim Carrey cannot say “no”. Who is the impact character? His friend forcing him to action? The girl he falls in love with? Doesn’t his change also change the story goal?"

I haven't seen it. I can't answer your question accurately. Sry. : (

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Postby adambein » Feb 19, 2016 12:08 pm

You wrote:
" My story (from the MCs view. What would be the story goal?) “Atomic winter”
An alcoholic and abounded director undertakes realizing his insane wild idea of a reality show. The Broadcaster needs ratings to survive. The show will take place in a dome in the Antarctica. The participants are drugged to act like Neanderthals. It all falls apart in violence, but the broadcaster wants him to continue. Armageddon breaks loose as the dome burst and people starts to kill each other. He realizes his ideas involves real consequences and have to cope with consequences for the first time of his life. Else he and the cast will die.

Is that a story goal or a throughline?"
---------------------------------------------------------

What you wrote up there is not a story goal and it is not a throughline. Consider it a 'synopsis'.

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Postby adambein » Feb 19, 2016 12:30 pm

You wrote:
"What about the Impact Character? Isnt the IC a character that sets the story in motion? It could be
1) The Main Character’s longing for Career/Approval from the audience
2) The BIG reality show taking chances never taken before?
3) MCs love he find among one of the participants, a Schizophrenic women (the chick of one of the bad guys).



Okay,
The IC is not the/a character who sets the story in motion. The IC is the character who gets in the way of the MC (for now, let's say MC/Protagonist, even tho' that's not accurate). Lemme resrart: The IC is the character who gets in the way of the MC/Prot. 's subjective story. Like in Star Wars, Obi Wan Kenobi got in the way of Luke wanting to go off into the Universe by saying "No bub, what you outta do is practice more with this whole 'Force' stuff-plus you need more lightsaber practice). Now, the IC gets in the way but the IC does NOT oppose. The IC forces the MC/Prot. to face his personal problem. No one else does this job. Capice?

I think by answering that, we removed your 1), 2), and 3), right?


Then you wrote:
"I am confused. I tried to use Dramatica to simplify my story, but find it more complicated after fitting struggle it to fit the interface. I have really did an effort to struggle myself through Dramaticas prompts as I believe the software could elevate the story/plot. Then, again, I stumble and fall. I realizes after filling in 200 answers that I did something wrong at Q50."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your confusion is normal, predictable, and common (I bet). Here's why: Up until now, and never before, have you or anyone probably really had to look at a story in terms of it's 'physiology'. A college anatomy class is 'Name that Part!' class. College 'Physiology' class however, is 'How does that part work?'. Any idiot can pass Anatomy-ya' just do like I did and spend 36 hours a week, every week, for 18 weeks, studying. Physiology, that's concept oriented. Big problems there. You can poke a bone or a heart or some lungs with your finger. Physiology is how things work and that is un-finger-pokeable. Now YOU have another problem-a pathophysiological problem. Pathophysiology is "The patient's lungs are not functioning well-how are they working now that they are broken?' YOU have discovered some of the parts of your story (true), some of how those parts work and articulate and function with one another (riiight?), and NOW-the damn thing's not working right! Ugh! It's together but not functioning correctly. 'Story Pathophysiology"" what's wrong with my story?

But if one doesn't get the anatomy and one doesn't have the physiology down pat, trying to wrap your head around a broken story ain't gonna work with great ease-as evidenced by the colossal crap that is presented on our tv screen and worse, films. We are bombarded with story facets that suffer from broken or ill-running parts.

Drop down a notch and get 'Writer's Dream Kit 4.0'. That'll help. Plus you can use it to reverse-engineer existing stories.

Back away from a big story and drop down to a smaller story that is simpler. Try sketch. If I make a sketch post I'll put the link to it below. I haven't seen one and it'd be nice to see how sketch incorporates Dramatica and how Dramatica can be used to assist in assembling a sketch story.

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Re: A challenge to the Dramatica team and others – can you h

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 24, 2016 11:52 am

I believe the issue you have is trying to use the Story Guide to develop your story, especially Level I or Level II. The StoryGuide paths are designed to be a linear process, and as such are not set up to explore your story as you want, but in a fixed order. I suggest moving away from Level I and Level II of the StoryGuide and use a different path -- almost any other path. The other paths do not require you to proceed through the topics in any given order. You may skip forward or backward and answer questions (or not) as you like. In that way, you do not have to answer questions about the "Story Goal" if you don't know anything about it (yet) and proceed directly to the topics that interest you most, first.

I believe that will help your process.

My story (from the MCs view. What would be the story goal?) “Atomic winter”
An alcoholic and abounded director undertakes realizing his insane wild idea of a reality show. The Broadcaster needs ratings to survive. The show will take place in a dome in the Antarctica. The participants are drugged to act like Neanderthals. It all falls apart in violence, but the broadcaster wants him to continue. Armageddon breaks loose as the dome burst and people starts to kill each other. He realizes his ideas involves real consequences and have to cope with consequences for the first time of his life. Else he and the cast will die.


From what little is in your example, I believe I can infer the following:

MC: The Alcoholic.
OS: Arctic Reality Show
IC: Unidentified
RS: Unidentified

The Story Goal is to get rating so that the Broadcaster can get ratings to survive. It's unclear exactly what the MC's Concern is, though I suspect he's had a disaster of a life that has driven family and friends away due to his alcoholism. The unidentified IC influences the MC to 'wake up and see the destructive affects his alcoholism has had on those around him' as the MC struggles with the as-yet-unidentified relationship he has with the unidentified IC.

It does not matter who you choose to narrate your story. A complete story must have ALL FOUR THROUGHLINES to fully function. In that way, each throughline has its own Concern, which is similar to having a throughline-specific 'goal'.
Chris Huntley
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