Category Archives: Narrative Psychology

What Is Truth? (The Character’s Dilemma)

By Melanie Anne Phillips Characters reflect real people in a purified or idealized state.  And so, we can see in them qualities and traits that are hard to see within ourselves.  One of the most difficult challenges we face every … Continue reading

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Character Justifications

By Melanie Anne Phillips Problem solving tries to resolve an issue.  But if there is an obstacle to a solution, the process of justification tries to find a way around.  Sometimes characters get so wrapped up in the attempt to … Continue reading

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What Drives a Main Character?

By Melanie Anne Phillips A story begins when the Main Character has become stuck in the highest level of justification. Nobody gets there because they are stupid or mean. They get there because their unique life experience has brought them repeated … Continue reading

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The Dramatica Table of Story Elements is a Model of the Mind

By Melanie Anne Phillips The Dramatica Table of Story Elements is really a model of the mind. Twisting and turning it represents the kinds of stress (and experience) we encounter in everyday life. Sometimes things get wound up as tight … Continue reading

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How is Dramatic Tension Created?

By Melanie Anne Phillips How is dramatic potential created? The Dramatica chart (below) organizes all the categories of things we think about. Notice that the chart is nested, like wheels within wheels. That’s the way our minds work – we … Continue reading

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Narrative Psychology: To Know Oneself

By Melanie Anne Phillips We all have certain fundamental broad-stroke mental traits such as Reason, Initiative, and Skepticism. As individuals, we use the full spectrum of these tools to try and solve our problems. But when we get together in … Continue reading

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Are the Lambs Still Screaming….

In the classes I teach on story structure we often point to Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) in “Silence of the Lambs” as a great example of a Success/Bad story in which the goal (save the senator’s daughter from Buffalo Bill) … Continue reading

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Narrative Psychology: How memories work – an example

Narrative Psychology: How memories work – an example Something I posted today on my Facebook page: What a magnificent mountain morning. The air is clear, crisp and clean from several days of thunderstorms. Temperature was 40 degrees when we woke … Continue reading

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What if…

A thought exercise for writers: What if you could be genetically altered to be happy in a miserable life? Would you do it? Having had a number of private responses to this post in other venues, I offer the following: … Continue reading

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The 15 Cent Happiness Fix

People often shoot themselves in the foot, and so do characters. There’s a narrative reason for it. Happened to me today, but THIS time I dodged my own bullet. Here’s how I stopped following that storyline – something you can … Continue reading

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