Trouble Understand Plot Sequence Report vs. Theme Browser

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Chris Huntley
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Trouble Understand Plot Sequence Report vs. Theme Browser

Postby Chris Huntley » May 30, 2008 11:30 am

WriterJoe -- Trouble Understand Plot Sequence Report vs. Theme Browser

I'm still trying to get a mental handle on the Dramatica system. Okay. Here's my problem/question.

I got it down to one Storyform, so I then looked at the Plot Sequence Report. Under "The Overall Storyline" is says that my Act I should deal primarily with "Understanding", and that Understanding is explored in terms of "Preconception, Choice, Openness, and Delay".

Looking at the Theme Browser, I see that "Activity" is my OS Throughline, and that "OS Signpost 1" is "Understanding". So this all makes sense.

But then, under Understanding, it says, "Instint, Senses, Conditioning, and Interpretation", not "Preconception, Choice, Openness, and Delay".

So, then I thought, oh, Preconception, Choice, Openness, and Delay must be a level deeper (the Element level?). But, alas, they aren't there either.

After searching around the Theme Browser for these terms, I ended up finding them in the Situation (Class) section, under the Future (Type) block, at the Variation level.


What is the supposed relationship between Activitiy and Situation, and between Understanding and the Future as it all applies to Act 1 of my Storyform?

NOTE: I'm guessing that these "explore in terms of" term are found at the Variation level simply because this is the best depth of concept to explore overall theme in a given scene? Why not a level deeper at the Element level? Would this be too specific to maintain the overall story's theme structure? Do tell.

Another example (just for the hell of it):

Under "Main Character Throughline" is says that my Act I should deal primarily with "The Present", and that The Present should be explored in terms of "State of Being, Situation, Circumstance, and Sense of Self".

These terms are found in the Manipulation (Class) section, under the Developing a Plan (Type) block (again, at the Variations level).

So, again, what is being implied by the Theme Browser structure here? What is the supposed relationship between my Main Character and Manipulation, and between The Present and Developing a Plan as it is supposed to Apply to my MC Act 1?

Chris Huntley Re: Trouble Understand Plot Sequence Report vs. Theme Browse #1

Here's a link to a Dramatica tip that addresses your question- about the Plot Sequence Report: ... p1203.html

Rest assured it's supposed to be that way. Dramatica actually puts this clarification at the head of the report:

"Plot Sequence Report for "Your Story"

This report shows how dramatic tension makes itself manifest in a series of discrepancies between plot and theme, act by act.

Information about the relationship between plot and theme comes in two forms in Dramatica. When you begin creating your Storyform, you are presented with a "perfect world" view of your story in which plot is completely aligned with theme. There is no discrepancy between the two, and therefore no dramatic tension. This balanced view is most easily seen in the Theme Browser, available through a tile on the Dramatica Desktop.

Once you arrive at a Storyform, however, you have input information about how that "perfect world" is twisted and warped by problems and conflicting perspectives. As a result, plot no longer matches theme, and the two are often quite out of step with one another.

As your story unfolds, it is the discrepancy between plot and theme that clues the audience in on the nature of the problem at the heart of your story and tells them much about the ways in which such a screwed up situation might be resolved.

Use this report as a guideline to the kinds of thematic considerations which should be addressed in your plot, act by act for each of the four throughlines. By developing this series of plot/theme discrepancies, the progress of your story will reflect the dramatic tension of the effort to unwind all the tentacles of the central problem."

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

WriterJoe Theme Browser #2


Here's a link to a Dramatica tip that addresses your question- about the Plot Sequence Report: ... p1203.html

Thanks for the link. I get it now. The Theme Browser shows everything BEFORE any character/story elements are added, as you said, in its "perfect" form.

The reason it doesn't match up once you have a Storyform is because now, as you said, it is "messed up" due to the story creating a difference between plot and theme...

...which is then worked out through the story.

Now if I could just wrap my mind around all the Storyforms and how they effect (screw up) the Themes. Yeah, right . But, I guess that's the point of having a computer program.

ASIDE: I be really interested in hearing about how you came up with the Theme Browser/Structure originally.
How did you flesh it out, test it for completeness etc...
Was it all trial and error and adding to the Theme structure as you analyzed more and more stories? Or was there some structure you started with from another discipline (I don't know what...maybe Linguistics or Comminications theory or something)? It's all pretty fascinating.

Chris Huntley Re: Theme Browser #3

The concept for the Dramatica structure (as seen in the Theme Browser) was part of a larger effort to figure out how stories worked. If you're into mind-melting stuff, you can see how we did it at this link:

Melanie has pretty well documented what we did and how we did it. It's dense material (no surprise there, I'm sure) but it covers the topic well.

As to the specifics of the model, we did not use any other system of the basis. We developed the "idea" of it based on the relationships we assigned to a quad. The structure is a representation of all the permutations of those relationships in a fractal system. Once we had the "math" in place, it was a long process of identifying the proper concepts appropriate for each "blank" in the model. It wasn't fun and I would not do it again.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

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