What is a Story Goal? The MCs or bor bird's perspective?

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.

What is a Story Goal? The MCs or bor bird's perspective?

Postby MadsNilsson » Apr 15, 2015 9:02 am

I am struggling to define a story goal. I have outlined my story like 100 times, and find it quite appealing. I have tried to use Dramatica as I think the software could elevate the story. But I always get turned back entering question 200 or something.

My story is about a fallen, drinking director. He has lots of ideas - an insane idea for a reality show. He presents the plot to a broadcaster (without knowing the guy is representing a broadcaster) drunk.

As his girlfriend leaves him, he is offered to realize his crazy idea. The show is about surviving a "new civilization" in a dome in Artic, remote areas. The participants are to live in a dome. Half of them drugged as Neanderthals, half of them still have their intellect intact. Who will win? It is a big prize in the end. The show is THE most spectacular, and the participants agrees to go into the show with their life on stake.

The director has bills to pay and undertake to realizes the show - though in doubt. It is to crazy. To little thought through. In the casting process he casts a sociopath (Zorac) who wants to win the prize whatever it takes. His girlfriend, Cynthia, is a crazy girl, suffering from Shizo. The director likes her.

The show goes wild, as the Director thought. An intence violence is soon exposed. The production crew leaves the production, leaving the director and the broadcaster and some scientific guys alone in the remote area.

For the first time in his life the director understand that his wild imagination has consequences to REAL people. They actually KILL each other. He has to restore order, but the broadcaster has NEVER had higher ratings. They want to continue.

As the audience can interact with the reality show, they decide that the wall separating two worlds inside the dome (one of the world is normal people, the other half is injected with a serum, turning them into neanderthals). The director has to enter the bubble and be a part of the show himself, to turn off the wall, seperating the two cultures.

As soon as he does, Armageddon is loose. The participants starts to eat each other. Mattias has never faced his own fears, and is now more fearful than ever. He have to survive.

One of the participant (The antagonist???) didnt take the serum. He is just pretending being retarded to win the big prize. He want the show to go on, as he can pay off debt to his creditors and thus survive. The director understands this and are afraid of him. At the same time, he has fallen in love with this guys girlfriend.

When the creditors enter the Artic, they mess up the system and the artificial dome explodes. All of the sudden the temperature is down to minus 40 degrees. The director and his new found love, has to escape to the harbour, where a boat will pick up people the director says is ok. The bad guy joins him - and it is a dysfunctional gang that heads to the harbour in the cold.

To survive, the director understand he will be killed as soon as he enters the boat. The bad guy has to be killed. For the first time he uses violence. I am not finished with the end yet, but I think it goes like the bad guy gets killed and the Director lives on with his love and change career.

Overall: It is about big dreams, to big to be cool, breaken apart,and understanding.

What would YOU suggest as a story goal? Isnt the story goal much the same as the main character - the director? And what time to enter the story?



Re: What is a Story Goal? The MCs or bor bird's perspective?

Postby glennbecker » Sep 19, 2015 7:39 am

Firstly, it's important to separate out your Main Character from the overall story. If you took the director and dropped him into the Sound of Music, he'd still be a sad-sack drunk, so I'd take that out of consideration. The overall story should include everyone's goal and concern.

The story feels more like a process than a state, so I'd say it has an activity or psychology domain.

Of those two, I'd say psychology. Mostly because of the how the signposts would lay out. The story feels like two halves with a bump in the middle. The director blurts out this idea (conceiving) and the director picks it up, the implement the idea by casting, drugging people, building this bubble (conceptualizing), the director enters the bubble, the people start playing it up for the cameras, getting more and more violent (being), finally all hell breaks lose as everyone completely devolves into inhuman savagery (becoming).

Because the goal is also the same type as the overall story concern, I'd put the goal as becoming. (Why else would you go on such a crazy show if you didn't want to be famous?) That put's the goal as becoming and the consequences as obtaining/losing. The director doesn't seem to be pursuing a goal regardless of the odds or cost, that seems more like the producer to me. So I'd put the goal as becoming a ratings hit, or becoming the #1 network or else everyone will lose their jobs and their livelihoods.

That changes your story a little bit, but firms it up I think. So, the story is about a crazed producer driven to create a ratings hit at all costs, from the perspective of a washed up director with a hell of a drinking problem. I'd recommend putting the overall story issue to responsibility vs commitment, giving you a problem quad of conscience, temptation, control, uncontrolled.

The next big step would be deciding if the Main Character thinks he has a situation problem or an attitude problem.

Hope that helps.

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How to get CLOSE to figuring out your story's goal.

Postby adambein » Dec 01, 2015 7:54 pm

From the book "Dramatica, A New Theory of Story" by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley, 10th edition (the book, not Mr. Huntley), on page 127...
"In stories that reflect Western culture-particularly in American culture-the Story Goal is traditionally the Overall Story Throughline."

Later on, on page 203; "A story's Goal is most often found in the Overall Story Throughline for stories written in our culture."

Also, it is THAT goal which is the concern of ALL the Overall Story Characters.

The Story Goal CAN be the Main Character's Throughline. That'd probably make it simpler/easier to come up with the overall goal.

To work backwards to figure out what your Story Goal is... (page 203) "The audience sees a story's Goal as being the central objective of the story." So, what's the central objective of YOUR story?

Perhaps your Story Goal is... <reads your synopsis> I dunno.

Okay, try this to figure out the goal. Let's cut your options down to 16 possible choices, and then from there you can cut your options down to 8 possible choices. Go to this link:


You should see a table.The table is divided up into 4 grids. Each of those grids is one throughline. YOU have to assign each of your four throughlines to each one of those grids. The top two grids are categorized as 'Physical', the bottom two as 'Mental'. The goal of the story will be either physical or mental-but you don't need to decide that now, and if you don't, that's okay, it'll become clearer later. Hopefully. :shock:

1. One grid is what the MC is going thru. In your story it looks like the Director is the Main Character. Thru which of the 4 grids is the MC going?

2. One grid is what the Impact Character/Influence Character is going thru. You CAN have the bad guy be the Impact Character/Influence Character, you can have the Schizo girlfriend be the Impact Character/IC, you can have someone else be the Impact Character/IC. If you're not sure who of your characters IS the Impact Character/IC/Group of Characters, you'll have to clarify the essential elements that make an Impact Character/Influence Character/Group of Impact Characters. But, to narrow it down, one thing an Impact Character's/Influence Character's job to do is to 'present an alternative path to the Main Character'. So, if you know what your MC's path is, the IC is probably the person/ppl who points out an alternative. When you figure out who the Impact Character/Influence Character is, assign that person/them to one of the grids. Becauuuse...

3. When you have figured out who your MC is and you have figured out who our IC is, one grid is for the battle between MC and IC, and THAT battle is called the Subjective Story Throughline and IT is assigned to a grid too.

4. One grid is what the Overall view of the story is. Looks to me like it's a reality show that takes a turn for the worse. That'd be the top left grid. This might very well be the Overall Story Goal. It might be easier to make it so, I think so, especially for beginners.

Identify all those, then pick one of those grids to be your Story Goal. Or something like that. Ask again in 2 yr when I'm better at this.

By the way, if you haven't done so, go online and buy 'Writer's DreamKit 4.0' That'll reaaaally help. And, given the amount of time you've spent, it'll pay for itself after about 5 hours worth of using it. U can get that here for about $50 U.S.


AND, get this book. You can download it in .pdf I think for free here. It's the book I quoted. 'Dramatica, A New Theory of Story'.


By the way. It MAY just be that what you've come up with already may not fit into what's required. You may have to adjust your characters, the choices your characters make, a location, THE location, etc., to come up with a goal and characters that are functional-and make the story much easier to assemble. Not write, 'assemble', cuz it's occurring to me that this story making stuff is less about writing and more about assembling.

You're close. Stay with it.


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