The Nature of Conflict

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Chris Huntley
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The Nature of Conflict

Postby Chris Huntley » May 30, 2008 9:29 am

CChartreux -- The Nature of Conflict


I'm new here and new to Dramatica (just got the book; perhaps soon the software).

First, before my question, compliments to Dramatica! I have only just started and already am enjoying the benefits of the clarity this theory brings to the whole approach. It really allows me to 'see' where I am.

My question: Does the antagonist have to be a person? My story is such that there is no 'real' antagonist in the sense that there's nothing preventing (or trying to stop) the protagonist from achieving the goal. The story deals with being exposed to certain experiences and, as a result, being changed by the experience. There isn't any real 'conflict'; however, there are perhaps situational circumstances that might deflect or distract the protagonist (more the contagonist role rather than antagonist). This story is more a 'wow, I never knew that before' experience rather than a traditional protagonist/antagonist model.

If I can use a situation as an antagonist, then I trust I could simply look at the situation and assign antagonist qualities/functions where it's appropriate. Or - alternatively - perhaps it would be wiser to simply accept that there is no 'real' antagonist and stop trying to force one there when there really isn't; perhaps I should just simply work from the 'evolutionary' nature of this story and go from there.

Any advice of guidance would be a help.

Thank you.

Chris Huntley Re: The Nature of Conflict #1

Dramatica sees stories as having four throughlines--four complete perspectives that coexist in the story from the beginnning to the end. These are:

-- The "Big Picture" throughline, aka the Overall Story
-- The "Personal" throughlnie, aka the Main Character
-- The "Opposition" throughline, aka the Impact Character
-- The "Relationship" throughline, aka the Main Character vs. Impact Character throughline

Each throughline has characters, plot, theme, and genre elements. The characters are portrayed by "players" which are often human but can be anything. Cartoons often have lots of non-human players. Players can embody characters from one or more of the throughlines, such as combining a protagonist with the Main Character in one player (a typical "hero").

The Protagonist and Antagonist exist in the Overall Story throughline.

The Main Character exists in the Main Character throughline and MC/IC (relationship) throughline.

What you seem to be describing is NOT the Overall Story throughline. It seems more like the Main Character throughline, the Impact Character throughline, and the MC/IC (Relationship) throughlines. The Impact Character's alternate world view and approach to problems forces the Main Character to reconsider the way he deals with his own personal problems. In that way, the Impact Character isn't so much an antagonist as a knowing or unknowing irritant to the Main Character.

The relationship throughline holds the emotional heart of the story.

The overall story throughline provides the rational side of the story.

It's best to have all four throughlines in your story, even if you only explore some minimally and spend most of your time exploring the others.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers

CChartreux Re: The Nature of Conflict #2


Thanks for your help above.

Again, I am really enjoying this book very much. May I ask another question...about the difference between the book and software? I trust that the software takes the theories in the book and provides a mechanism to interact with software to help a writer? I guess what I'm asking is what does the software offer that the book doesn't? Are they meant to be complimentary (i.e., used together) - or is it just really the writer's preference? Given that I like the book so much, I'm very curious about the software.

Thanks again,

Chris Huntley Re: The Nature of Conflict #3

Hi CC --

The software is narrower in scope--it primarily focuses on storyforming with basic storyencoding and storyweaving tools--but deeper in practical application. One thing you get with the software that you do not get with the book is the ability to determine a story's storyform.

The book speaks abstractly about Story Goals, Main Character Problems, Overall Story Domains (Throughlines), and more. The Dramatica Pro software actually ties those disparate story points together with a storyform.

Instead of a "Story Goal," you get a Story Goal of Obtaining (or The Future, or Memories, etc.) and a Main Character Problem of Feeling (or Pursuit, or Oppose, etc.) and an Overall Story Domain of Activities, and so on. By making specific storyforming choices, Dramatica ensures that all parts of the storyform work together so that the story points create a cohesive whole. The software removes one level of "abstraction" by adding story specificity.

Look to the story examples, story analyses, and the downloadable demo on to see how key storyforms are to understanding a story.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers

CChartreux Re: The Nature of Conflict #4

Hi Chris

Thank you again for your helpful information.


p.s. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions...I'm starting to get further in the book and things are starting to get a little deeper and more complex.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

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