Basic OS Concern Question

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.
Mwoll
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Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Mwoll » Oct 22, 2009 9:13 pm

I'm just getting a handle on Dramatica, so some of the terms have not soaked in yet and become clear.

I have on OS Throughline of Situation. Basically, it's a monster story, so that's the situation: a monster shows up.

Now, for the Concern, I can't quite figure out which is the best choice. 3 of the 4 seem possible:

The Present: We have to deal with this monster.
The Future: How are we going to get out of this mess?
How Things are Changing: We were fine; now we're not.

I've been trying to think about movies, but it hasn't really helped.

Alien: They wake up (How Things are Changing, The Present); They go to the planet (Same choices), ...
Etc...

Any thoughts?
The major difference between how my story starts and Alien, if it matters, is that the first hint that something is amiss shows up almost immediately. No coming out of hypersleep.

Thanks.

Mwoll
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Re: Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Mwoll » Oct 23, 2009 5:19 pm

I've read through more of the questions posted in the forum. I'm in good company!

What I've gleaned is this: any of the concerns is valid. It depends on how I want to do it.

I guess that means I've got to figure it out...

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Chris Huntley » Oct 29, 2009 2:23 pm

That is correct. Any of them are good. The main thing an Overall Story throughline in the Situation domain is about being trapped in a bad situation. For example, a bunch of miners trapped in an abandoned mine with a monster fits the "Situation" scenario.

Use the concerns to identify the SPECIFIC SHARED concern by all the characters in the OS throughline. For example:

PAST: An ancient enemy has returned to repeat it's past terrors on everyone trapped on a luxury liner in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

PRESENT: A group of scientists must survive the night while trapped in a remote station with a band of blood sucking vampires.

FUTURE: A band of humans, captured by an alien race that has destroyed Earth, must find a way to keep the human race from extinction.

PROGRESS: (How things Are Going) A group of vacationers find themselves cast on a remote island and become infected with a slow-growing fungus that threatens to turn them into living slime.

Choosing clarity over originality, you can see how each of the above are in the Overall Story throughline (it involves everyone), are a situation (they are stuck somewhere with something bad), and are concerned with something appropriate to the Concern.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.
http://dramatica.com/
http://screenplay.com/

Mwoll
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Re: Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Mwoll » Oct 29, 2009 3:20 pm

Aha, perfect timing with your great answer -- because I have a direct follow-up.

I've done more work on the story, and Future is the right way for me to go. We'll stick with your example:
FUTURE: A band of humans, captured by an alien race that has destroyed Earth, must find a way to keep the human race from extinction.

Various other decisions have resulted in a MC Throughline of Activity -- he has the right way to get the information they need to kill the aliens and he's going to go get it.

However, this is where I'm confused. The Throughline order Dramatica came up with is:
Obtain
Understanding
Doing
Gathering information

It seems more natural that the story would go:

Gathering information (who are these aliens?)
Obtain (I've got to get my hands on that device)
Understanding (If I figure out how to use this device, I can wipe them out)
Doing (Wipe them out with device)

What is the effect you've seen when throughlines are shifted around like this?
While I have figured out a way to end the movie with "Gathering Information" it seems awfully passive for the hero of the movie. Even if I get him to reevaluate his plan, at some point, doesn't he still have to pull the trigger and DO?

Thanks! I'm loving this, btw.

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 02, 2009 3:00 pm

I am of several minds about the Signpost order.

1. I have found that following the signpost order is generally sound.

2. The Plot Sequence report often works better for writers when they don't like the flow of the signposts as indicated by the plot progression window.

3. Try changing them around to what feels right. If it works, it works.

Although I am confident in Dramatica's signpost orders, you should not be slavish to its recommendations.

However, the order you describe has to do with the MAIN CHARACTER throughline, which is the PERSONAL throughline, not the ALIEN OS throughline. So, instead of looking at those signposts in terms of the humans and aliens, it should be about the MC's personal stuff.


IF it was about the OS in Activity, try the order, you may like it. For example:

Signpost 1: OBTAINING -- Stunned by the loss of nearly the entire human race, the survivors struggle to find the remaining humans to figure out what they have left.

Signpost 2: UNDERSTANDING -- The surviving humans begin to understand they are no more than mere xeno-zoological specimens to their alien captors. Several misunderstandings between the humans and aliens nearly gets the humans exterminated.

Signpost 3: DOING -- The humans begin efforts to escape their imprisonment. They sabotage various alien facilities and clandestinely prepare weapons and other means to fight their captors.

Signpost 4: Gathering Information -- The humans learn the alien language, and also learn they are not alone. Their intelligence discovers that the aliens plan to kill them shortly after the alien transport arrives at the next planet they are to conquer. The humans learn enough to use the alien technology against the aliens.

This may not be what you have in mind, but remember -- the Story Goal would be about Obtaining, so the climax is about Obtaining (The humans escape!..or take over the ship...or whatever). There are many other plot points than the OS signposts with which to embellish your story, so don't get hung up on the signposts as the only plot elements in your story.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.
http://dramatica.com/
http://screenplay.com/

Mwoll
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Re: Basic OS Concern Question

Postby Mwoll » Nov 12, 2009 3:09 pm

I just discovered the Podcasts -- very cool.

Listening to Kung Fu Panda made me realize that the OS story isn't supposed to be a "Situation" after all -- but an "Activity."

Man, did that podcast help! In general, it was really informative to hear things gone through piece by piece. Thanks for posting it!


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