How “StoryWeaver” Came To Be

When Chris Huntley and I created the Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure back in the early 90’s, we originally envisioned it as the end-all of story models – the one single paradigm that explained it all. In fact, it was – but only in regard to the mechanics of stories.

Although Dramatica proved amazingly popular, and the Dramatica software we designed (along with Steve Greenfield) became the best selling story structure tool ever created, I began to feel there was something missing.

In spite of (or perhaps because of) its power, depth, and accuracy Dramatica required a huge learning curve. What’s more, though writers could intuitively tune in to its truth and vision it somehow left the user cold in a passionate or creative sense.

To compensate for these issues, we eventually carried the software through three complete major versions, each seeking to make the story development process more involving and accessible. After considering the last of these efforts, I came to realize that there was only so far you could go in an attempt to turn a logical model of story structure into a warm fuzzy teddy bear of inspiration.

So began a personal eight-year journey on my part to connect with that other “touchy-feely” side of story development. What I wanted was simple – the passionate counterpart to Dramatica: a simple, easy to follow, step-by-step approach to story development that goosed the Muse and never required an author to deal directly with theory or to drop out of creative mode in order to make logistic choices. In short, I wanted to create a means by which writing would become fun, easy, powerful, and meaningful and still hold true to the structural insights of the Dramatica Theory.

The result was a whole new system of writing which I called “StoryWeaving.” StoryWeaving is just what it sounds like: the process of weaving together a story. Picture an author in front of a loom, drawing on threads of structure and passion, pulling them together into something that will ultimately be both moving and meaningful, that will capture human emotion and present it in a pattern that makes logical sense.

Authors work best not when they simply let themselves go in an aimless fashion, nor when they adhere to a strict framework of structural imperatives, but rather, they maximize the fruits of their talents when they are free to move through both worlds on a whim, drawing on such elements of structure and passion as play across their minds at any given moment.

Having devised a method of assisting authors in embracing this freedom, I designed the StoryWeaver software to transform the concept into a practical tool. Within the first year of its release, StoryWeaver came to outsell Dramatica on my online store by a margin of six to one, and outsold all other products that I carry combined!

Still, as simple and straightforward as StoryWeaver is to use, many authors craved additional details about various StoryWeaving concepts. To include that degree of depth in the software would bog down the process. So, I began a series of StoryWeaving Tips to elucidate on particular areas of interest, and to enhance the StoryWeaving path with small excursions onto creative side-streets.

This web site is a compilation of the complete collection of all of these creative writing tips to date, mixed in with tips for story structure as well.

I leave you to explore these new worlds on your own.

Melanie Anne Phillips

 

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Basic Tips for Beginning Writers

Here’s a short list of our best tips and articles for novice writers to help you find inspiration, get you started, and carry you to completion of your novel or screenplay.

Ten Essential Tips for Beginning Writers

Character Development Tricks!

Finding Your Creative Time

How to Find Inspiration

What Chases Your Characters

Write Your Novel Step By Step

Free Videos on Story Development

The Creativity Two-Step

A Novelist’s Bag of Tricks!

How to Grow a Sentence into a Story

Four Essential Plot Points

Creating Characters from Scratch

How to Create Great Characters

What Chases Your Characters?

Your Plot Step by Step

Requirements for your Story’s Goal

Top Story Development Software

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Write Your Novel Step By Step

Write Your Novel Step By Step!

Read the complete book free on our web site at http://storymind.com/page31.htm

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Free for Writers – All Online Courses, Videos, Articles, and Writing Tips!

NOW FREE for Writers! All our writing courses, videos, audio programs, articles, and writing tips are NOW FREE on the Storymind.com web site!

You’re welcome.

The Management

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You are only as good as your own talent. GET OVER IT!

You are only as good as your own talent. GET OVER IT!

You have a gift. Maybe it’s a grand one and maybe you wish you could exchange it. But you can’t. It’s your gift and it’s only as good as it is. Sure, you can learn technique and structure and vocabulary, but you can’t be any better than you have the capacity to be. So grow up, deal with it and write fiercely.

And if you do need a little help along the way, check out our StoryWeaver software at Storymind.com

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Narrative in the Real World: Anticipatory Targeting of Data Gathering Resources (Part 1)

From Melanie Anne Phillips, Owner of Storymind.com

Here’s the beginning of an article I wrote back a few years ago when I was a consultant for the CIA and the NSA on narrative psychology and its application for counter-terrorism. I eventually finished the article, but am cleaning out my hard drive and this initial draft is the first thing I found and figured it was still worth publishing as an insight into the process:

Anticipatory Targeting of Data Gathering Resources

By Melanie Anne Phillips, Co-creator, Dramatica Theory

The Problem

The ability to assess a current situation and accurately predict its course is perhaps the paramount requirement for the security of an individual or a nation. To that end, we have developed ever more sophisticated systems for gathering and analyzing information to both understand the dangers of the present and to be prepared for emerging dangers in the future.

Current systems are largely based on a marriage of statistical databases and a variety of algorithms ranging from influence networks to hub theory to fluid dynamics and even models of the progression of infectious diseases. Increasingly, advancements in artificial intelligence have provided additional capability through the application of machine learning, group mind theory, and hierarchies of intelligent agents.

Despite these enhancements, our technology is rapidly approaching a limit as to how much more accurate and predictive it can become, regardless of further developments based on the same fundamental approaches. As a result, though our capacity to gather data has increased explosively, our ability to understand predictive patterns and employ them in a feedback loop to redirect our data gathering resources has lagged behind.

The problem behind this limitation is that there remains a missing piece in our analytic capacity: the ability to definitively model and predict the human element in terms of motivations and responses. While we can create algorithms to describe patterns of human movement and can assess individuals and organizations through psychological profiling, these approaches are largely built upon probability based on historic observation.
What is lacking is a unifying paradigm of human behavior based not on statistics, but on the underlying dynamics and interaction of mental processes, both cognitive and affective – essentially, a model of the mind itself.

Historically, attempts to model the mind have proven insufficient, but recently a much more functional system, which has been employed successfully in the field of narrative science for nearly twenty years, has emerged as a viable solution to the problem.
What follows is a description of this system and how it might be incorporated into to the existing framework of our data gathering resources.

The Solution

The Method

The Basis

The concepts in this article owe their roots to our Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure.  You can read our entire book explaining the theory here in PDF or on Amazon, and you may wish to demo our Dramatica narrative construction and analysis software based on our model of narrative psychology for use in fiction and the real world.

I’ll publish the complete article, if and when I find it as I plow through the archives…

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Do You Want to Change Your Audience?

Do you want your story to bring your audience to a point of change or to reinforce its current view? Oddly enough, choosing a steadfast Main Character may bring an audience to change and choosing a change character may influence the audience to remain steadfast. Why? It depends upon whether or not your audience shares the Main Character’s point of view to begin with.

Suppose your audience and your Main Character do NOT agree in attitudes about the central issue of the story. Even so, the audience will still identify with the Main Character because he represents the audience’s position in the story. So, if the Main Character grows in resolve to remain steadfast and succeeds, then the message to your audience is, “Change and adopt the Main Character’s view if you wish to succeed in similar situations.”

Clearly, since either change or steadfast can lead to either success or failure in a story, when you factor in where the audience stands a great number of different kinds of audience impact can be created by your choice.

In answering this question, therefore, consider not only what you want your Main Character to do as an individual, but also how that influences your story’s message and where your audience stands in regard to that issue to begin with.

Excerpted from our Dramatica software

Try it risk-free for 90 days at Storymind.com

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Overcome Writer’s Block with “Nonsense”

StoryWeaving – Write Your Novel or Screenplay Step By Step

Step 2: Nonsense!

If you already know what your story is about want to get right to the details, you might want to jump ahead to the “Finding the Holes” step farther down in this path.

But If you could use some additional ideas or are stuck trying to develop the ideas you already have, the next few questions will help you find new material.

If you are really stuck, its probably because you are trying too hard to be creative – a situation often referred to as “Writer’s Block.”

Fortunately, there is a trick you can use to break through Writer’s Block and get your creativity flowing again!

The following technique will help you loosen up and come up with some really off the wall ideas that you may want to incorporate in your story. At the very least, it should give your Muse a kick in the pants. So, even if the ideas themselves aren’t useful, you’ll be inspired to begin again where you were stuck before.

The Nonsense Technique for Overcoming Writers Block

First, write three nonsense words in the space below. Don’t stop to think it over, just jot down the first words that come to mind, as in a word-association test.

Example:

Cat, Running, Green

NOTE: You might want to include a mix of nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives

Write your nonsense words below, then proceed to the next step to turn your nonsense words into an inspiration….

Excerpted from our StoryWeaver software. Try it risk-free at Storymind.com

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Who’s Behind This Blog?

Who’s behind this blog?

Hi, I’m Melanie Anne Phillips – Owner of Storymind.com, creator of StoryWeaver, and Co-creator of Dramatica. I have two grown children, two grandchildren, and recently turned 65.

For 25 years I’ve taught creative writing and story structure, but there’s a lot more to me than that. I’m an avid photographer in the style of Ansel Adams, I hike in the back country of Yosemite, I write philosophy and personal journals (see my author page on Amazon) and I compose music – lots of music in lots of styles. Perhaps the best way to know the person behind this page is to hear a bit of my music, which is the voice of the soul.

ONE OF MY PIANO IMPROV SESSIONS

I find the best way to warm up my compositional skills is a little free-form invention on the fly for a short session. Often a new riff or an interesting chord progression emerges that eventually becomes a whole new song. The key is to walk out fearlessly among the notes, follow the Muse of whimsy and less loose the dogs of serendipity.

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Choosing Your Main Character’s Resolve

The Main Character represents the audience’s position in the story. Therefore, whether he or she changes or not has a huge impact on the audience’s story experience and the message you are sending to it.

Some Main Characters grow to the point of changing their nature or attitude regarding a central personal issue like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Others grow in their resolve, holding onto their nature or attitude against all obstacles like Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive.

Change can be good if the character is on the wrong track to begin with. It can also be bad if the character was on the right track. Similarly, remaining Steadfast is good if the character is on the right track, but bad if he is misguided or mistaken.

Think about the message you want to send to your audience, and whether the Main Character’s path should represent the proper or improper way of dealing with the story’s central issue. Then select a changing or steadfast Main Character accordingly.

Excerpted from our Dramatica Story Structure Software

Try it risk-free for 90 days at Storymind.com

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