Writing Tips & Writing Software

Screenwriting Software

Books and Videos on Writing

Writing with the Story Mind<br>1 hour audio program
Dramatica &





A step by step approach to story development, from concept to completed story for your novel or screenplay. More than 200 interactive Story Cards guide you through the entire process.

Details and Demo



Dramatica Pro 4.0<br>Plus FREE Bonus!

The most powerful story structuring software available, Dramatica is driven by a patented "Story Engine" that cross-references your dramatic choices to ensure a perfect structure.

Details and Demo

Movie Magic Screenwriter


Movie Magic Screenwriter<br>Plus FREE Bonus!

The most advanced screenwriting software available, Movie Magic is deemed a "preferred file format" by the Writer's Guild. An industry standard, MMS is used by professionals and studios around the world.

Details and Demo

Throughline Index Cards


Interactive index cards - Name them, add notes, titles, colors, click and drag to re-arrange, adjust font, save, export and print. An essential tool for every writer.


Academic Discounts
on Select Products

Are you a student, teacher, or academic staffer? Get the very best price on select products with these manufacturer sponsored academic discounts!





Dramatica: A New Theory Of Story
By Melanie Anne Phillips  
and Chris Huntley

Chapter 4

Objective Characters

Archetypal Characters: Introduction to Archetypes

Archetypes exist as a form of storytelling shorthand. Because they are instantly recognizable, an author may choose to use archetypal characters for a variety of reasons -- because of limited storytelling time or space, to emphasize other aspects of story such as Plot or Theme, to play on audience familiarity, etc. The main advantage of Archetypes is their basic simplicity, although this can sometimes work as a disadvantage if the characters are not developed fully enough to make them seem real.

There are eight Archetypal Characters: Protagonist, Antagonist, Reason, Emotion, Sidekick, Skeptic, Guardian, and Contagonist. Several of these are familiar to most authors. Some are a bit more obscure. One is unique to Dramatica. We will introduce all eight, show how they interact, then explore each in greater detail.


Players and Characters?

In our earlier discussion of what sets the Subjective Characters apart from the Objective Characters, we described how authors frequently assign the roles of both Protagonist AND Main Character to the same player in the story.

The concept of "player" is found throughout Dramatica and differs from what we mean by "character." Dramatica defines a character as a set of dramatic functions that must be portrayed in order to make the complete argument of a story. Several functions may be grouped together and assigned to a person, place, or thing who will represent them in the story. The group of functions defines the nature of the character. The personage representing the functions is a player.

In other words, a player is like a vessel into which a character (and therefore a set of character functions) is placed. If more than one Objective Character is placed into a single player, the player will appear to have multiple personalities. This is clearly seen in the dual characters contained in player, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, or the many personalities of Sybil.

Describing the Protagonist

No doubt the most well-known of all the Archetypal Characters is the Protagonist. As with all the Archetypal Characters, there is a specific "shopping list" or "recipe" of dramatic functions that describes the Protagonist. In this regard, the archetypal Protagonist is the chief proponent and principal driver of the effort to achieve the story's goal.

At first, this description seems far too simple for even the most archetypal of Protagonists. This is because the Main Character is so often combined with the Protagonist when Archetypal Characters are used, that we seldom see a Protagonistic player representing the archetypal functions alone.

Still, pursuing the goal is the essential function of the Protagonist, and beginning here we can construct a network of relationships that describe the remaining archetypes.

(As a side note, the entire exploration of the Subjective Story is an independent job of the Main Character. For purposes of describing the Archetypal Protagonist, therefore, we will be considering only its role in the Objective Story Throughline as just another player on the field [albeit a crucial one]).

So, for our current needs, the Archetypal Protagonist can be considered the chief proponent and principal driver of the effort to achieve the story's goal.


What is an Antagonist?

The Archetypal Antagonist is diametrically opposed to the Protagonist's successful attainment of the goal. Often this results in a Protagonist who has a purpose and an Antagonist comes along and tries to stop it. Sometimes, however, it is the other way around. The Antagonist may have a goal of its own that causes negative repercussions. The Protagonist then has the goal of stopping the Antagonist. For purposes of establishing a consistent way to analyze how all Archetypal Characters relate to the goal of any story, Dramatica defines the Protagonist's goal as the .i.story's goal;, regardless of which kind it is.

Antagonist and the Obstacle Character

Just as the Protagonist is often "doubled up" with the function of the Main Character, the Antagonist is sometimes (though less frequently) combined with the Obstacle Character. The Obstacle Character is fully explored in the Subjective Characters section of this book. For now, a simple description of the Obstacle Character will serve our purposes.

Just as the Antagonist opposes the Protagonist in the Objective Story, the Obstacle Character stands in the way of the Main Character in the Subjective Story. Note we did not say the Obstacle Character opposes the Main Character, but rather stands in the way. The Obstacle Character's function is to represent an alternative belief system or world view to the Main Character, forcing him to avoid the easy way out and to face his personal problem.

When combining the Obstacle Character and the Antagonist in the same player, it is essential to keep in mind the difference between their respective functions, so that both dramatic purposes are fully expressed.

Reason & Emotion

Why Reason and Emotion Characters?

Having briefly described the Protagonist and Antagonist, we can already see how they represent basic functions of the Story Mind. The Protagonist represents the drive to try and solve a problem; the Antagonist represents the drive to undermine success. These two characters teeter back and forth over the course of the story as each in turn gains the upper hand.

Even in the most Archetypal terms this conflict is an insufficient process to fully describe an argument, for it fails to address many other basic concerns that will naturally occur in the minds of audience members, and must therefore be incorporated in the Story Mind as well. That is why there are six other Archetypal Characters. Just as Protagonist and Antagonist form a pair, the other six Archetypal Characters form three other pairs. The first of these is made up of Reason and Emotion.

Reason and Emotion Described

The Reason Archetypal Character is calm, collected, and cool, perhaps even cold. It makes decisions and takes action wholly on the basis of logic. (Remember, we say wholly because we are describing an Archetypal Character. As we shall see later, Complex Characters are much more diverse and dimensional.)

The Reason character is the organized, logical type. The Emotion character who is frenetic, disorganized, and driven by feelings.

It is important to note that as in real life, Reason is not inherently better than Emotion, nor does Emotion have the edge on Reason. They just have different areas of strength and weakness which may make one more appropriate than the other in a given context.

Functionally, the Emotion Character has its heart on its sleeve; it is quick to anger, but also quick to empathize. Because it is frenetic and disorganized, however, most of its energy is uncontrolled and gets wasted by lashing out in so many directions that it ends up running in circles and getting nowhere. In contrast, the Reason Character seems to lack "humanity" and has apparently no ability to think from the heart. As a result, the Reason Character often fails to find support for its well-laid plans and ends up wasting its effort because it has unknowingly violated the personal concerns of others.

In terms of the Story Mind, Reason and Emotion describe the conflict between our purely practical conclusions and considerations of our human side. Throughout a story, the Reason and Emotion Archetypal Characters will conflict over the proper course of action and decision, illustrating the Story Mind's deliberation between intellect and heart.

Sidekick & Skeptic

The next pair of Archetypal Characters are the Sidekick and the Skeptic, who represent the conflict between confidence and doubt in the Story Mind. The Sidekick is the faithful supporter. Usually, a Sidekick is attached to the Protagonist. Sometimes, however, they may be supporters of the Antagonist. This gives a good clue to the way Dramatica sees Objective Characters: The purpose of the Sidekick is to show faithful support. That does not determine who or what it supports, but just that it must loyally support someone or something. Other dynamics of a story will determine who the Sidekick needs to be attached to in order to make the story's argument, but from the standpoint of just describing the Archetypal Characters by themselves, the Sidekick faithfully supports.

The Sidekick is balanced by the Skeptic. Where the Sidekick has faith, the Skeptic disbelieves; where the Sidekick supports, the Skeptic opposes. The nature of the Skeptic is nicely described in the line of a song... "Whatever it is, I'm against it." In the Story Mind, it is the function of the Skeptic to note the indicators that portend failure. In contrast, the Sidekick notes the indicators that point to success. The interactions between Sidekick and Skeptic describe the Story Mind's consideration of the likelihood of success.

Guardian & Contagonist

What are the Guardian and Contagonist?

Finally we come to the remaining pair of Archetypal Characters. The first of these archetypes is a common yet often loosely defined set of functions; the second archetype is unique to Dramatica. The first of these characters is the Guardian. The Guardian functions as a teacher/helper who represents the Conscience of the Story Mind. This is a protective character who eliminates obstacles and illuminates the path ahead. In this way, the Guardian helps the Protagonist stay on the proper path to achieve success. Balancing the Guardian is a character representing Temptation in the Story Mind. This character works to place obstacles in the path of the Protagonist, and to lure it away from success. Because this character works to hinder the progress of the Protagonist, we coined the name "Contagonist".

Contagonist: "Whose side are you on?"

Because the Contagonist and Antagonist both have a negative effect on the Protagonist, they can easily be confused with one another. They are, however, two completely different characters because they have two completely different functions in the Story Mind. Whereas the Antagonist works to stop the Protagonist, the Contagonist acts to deflect the Protagonist. The Antagonist wants to prevent the Protagonist from making further progress, the Contagonist wants to delay or divert the Protagonist for a time.

As with the Sidekick, the Contagonist can be allied with either the Antagonist or the Protagonist. Often, Contagonists are cast as the Antagonist's henchman or second-in-command. However, Contagonists are sometimes attached to the Protagonist, where they function as a thorn in the side and bad influence. As a pair, Guardian and Contagonist function in the Story Mind as Conscience and Temptation, providing both a light to illuminate the proper path and the enticement to step off it.

Archetypes -- a Balanced Part of the Complete Argument

As a group, the Archetypal Characters represent all the essential functions of a complete Story Mind, though they are grouped in simple patterns. Because the Archetypes can be allied in different ways, however, a degree of versatility can be added to their relationships.

Complex Characters

What is a Complex Character?

Complex Characters are created from the same set of dramatic functions as Archetypes. The principal difference is that the Archetypal Characters group together functions that are most similar and compatible, and Complex Characters don't. This means that although Archetypal Characters may conflict with one another, an Archetypal Character is never at odds with its own drives and attitudes. This is why the Archetypal Characters so often appear to be less developed than Complex Characters or perhaps less human.

To create characters who more closely represent our own inconsistencies, we must redistribute their functions so they are less internally compatible. As this results in many more levels of exploration and understanding, we refer to any arrangement of character functions other than an Archetypal grouping to be Complex. A character containing such a grouping is a Complex Character.

Archetypes and Complex Characters Together

A single story may have both Archetypal and Complex Characters. The decision of how to group the functions is completely open to an author's storytelling desires. The problem is, until one is aware of exactly what these functions are and how they relate, it is impossible to make meaningful decisions about how to combine them. These essential functions are at such a basic level that they form the elemental building blocks of Objective Characters. Therefore, we refer to these functions as character Elements. Listing them gives no feel for the end product, much as just listing the Periodic Chart of Elements in chemistry gives no feel for the natures of the compounds that might be engineered through combining them.

As a result, the best way to present the character Elements with meaning is to start with the Archetypal Characters (who by definition contain all the Elements) and break them down, step by step, level by level, until their elemental components are exposed. In this manner, understanding is carried down to the Elements, which may then be combined in non-archetypal ways to create Complex Characters.

How to Order your copy of
Dramatica: A New Theory of Story


Back to the Table of Contents

Back to Home Page

Copyright�1996, Screenplay Systems Inc.

The Dramatica theory was developed by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
Chief Architect of the Dramatica software is Stephen Greenfield
is a registered trademark of Screenplay Systems Incorporated

Visit the Dramatica Theory Home Page

Try Dramatica & StoryWeaver Risk Free*

$179.95                       $29.95          

*Try either or both for 90 days.  Not working for you?  Return for a full refund of your purchase price!

About Dramatica and StoryWeaver

Hi, I'm Melanie Anne Phillips, creator of StoryWeaver, co-creator of Dramatica and owner of  If you have a moment, I'd like to tell you about  these two story development tools - what each is designed to do, how each works alone on a different part of story development and how they can be used together to cover the entire process from concept to completion of your novel or screenplay.

What They Do

Dramatica is a tool to help you build a perfect story structure.  StoryWeaver is a tool to help you build your story's world.  Dramatica focuses on the underlying logic of your story, making sure there are no holes or inconsistencies.  StoryWeaver focuses on the creative process, boosting your inspiration and guiding it to add depth, detail and passion  to your story.

How They Do It

Dramatica has the world's only patented interactive Story Engine� which cross-references your answers to questions about your dramatic intent, then finds any weaknesses in your structure and even suggests the best ways to strengthen them.

StoryWeaver uses a revolutionary new creative format as you follow more than 200 Story Cards� step by step through the story development process.  You'll design the people who'll inhabit your story's world, what happens to them, and what it all means.

How They Work Together

By itself Dramatic appeals to structural writers who like to work out all the details of their stories logically before they write a word.  By itself, StoryWeaver appeals to intuitive writers who like to follow their Muse and develop their stories as they go.

But, the finished work of a structural writer can often lack passion, which is where StoryWeaver can help.  And the finished work of an intuitive writer can often lack direction, which is where Dramatica can help.

So, while each kind of writer will find one program or the other the most initially appealing, both kinds of writers can benefit from both programs.

Try Both Programs Risk Free!

We have a 90 Day Return Policy here at Storymind.  Try either or both of these products and if you aren't completely satisfied we'll cheerfully refund your purchase price.

StoryWeaver Demo
Dramatica Demo

$29.95padFormat: Windows / Mac CD-ROM

  $29.95padFormat: Windows Download

$29.95padFormat: Mac OSX Download

Download ~ $179.95 

Boxed version ~ $199.95

Student or Teacher?
Get Dramatica Pro for just $99.95!

Our Complete Catalog of Products

Get the Writer's Survival Kit Bonus Package
FREE with ANY purchase!
A $300 Value!

StoryWeaver - $29.95

Our Bestseller!  A step by step approach to story development, from concept to completed story for your novel or screenplay.  More than 200 interactive Story Cards guide you through the entire process.

Dramatica Pro 4.0<br>Plus FREE Bonus!

Dramatica Pro - $179.95

Includes 2 Exclusive Bonuses! The most powerful story structuring software available, Dramatica is driven by a patented "Story Engine" that cross-references your dramatic choices to ensure a perfect structure.

Dramatica Writers DreamKit 4.0

Dramatica Writer's DreamKit - $49.95

Little brother to Dramatica Pro, Writer's DreamKit is built around the same patented Story Engine - it just tracks fewer story points.  So, you develop the same solid story structure, just with fewer details.  Perfect for beginning writers or those new to Dramatica.

Power Structure <br>Story Development <br>Software

Power Structure - $149.95

An all-in-one writing environment with built-in word processor that helps you organize and cross-reference your story development materials.  INCLUDES DVD SET BONUS!

Power Writer

Power Writer - $99.95

The little brother of Power Structure includes the essential organization and word processing tools writers need the most.

Throughline - Index Cards (Mac) - $19.95

Interactive index cards - add notes, titles, colors, click and drag to re-arrange.  An essential tool for every writer.

Movie Magic Screenwriter<br>Plus FREE Bonus!

Movie Magic Screenwriter - $149.95

The most advanced screenwriting software available, Movie Magic is deemed a "preferred file format" by the Writer's Guild.  An industry standard, MMS is used by professionals and studios around the world.

Final Draft 7 <br>Screenwriting Software

Final Draft - $199.95

Like Movie Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft is an industry standard, used by many professional screenwriters and studios around the world.

Between The Lines (Macintosh) - $29.95

The lowest cost automatic screenplay formatter for Macintosh includes high-end features such as interactive index cards linked to your script.

20 hour Writing<br>Course on CD ROM<br>featuring Dramatica

12 Hour Writing Course - $19.95

Everything you need to know about story structure - twelve hours of video on a single DVD - presented by Dramatica Theory co-creator, Melanie Anne Phillips.

Dramatica Software<br>Companion CD ROM

Dramatica Software Companion - $19.95

More than four hours of video demonstrations of every key feature in Dramatica, narrated by the co-creator of Dramatica.

Writing with the Story Mind<br>1 hour audio program

StoryWeaving Tips Book - $19.95

170 pages of eye-opening essays on story structure, storytelling, finding inspiration and a wide variety of writing techniques.

Writing with the Story Mind<br>1 hour audio program

StoryWeaving Seminar 8 DVD Set - $99.95

14 hours of video from a live two day course taught by theory co-creator Melanie Anne Phillips covering Dramatica story structure and StoryWeaver storytelling.

Writing with the Story Mind<br>1 hour audio program

StoryWeaving Seminar Online - $49.95

The same 14 hour program presented in streaming video that you can view online or download for a permanent copy.

The Dramatica Theory<br>2 hour audio program

Dramatica Theory 2 Hour Audio Program - $19.95

Every key concept in the Dramatica Theory of Story is fully explained in this double-CD set.

Writing Characters<br>of the Opposite Sex

Writing Characters of the Opposite Sex - $29.95

A three-hour audio CD set that explains everything you need to know to create characters of both sexes that ring absolutely true (and maybe even gain insight into the communication problems in the real world!)

Master Storyteller:<br>Improve your<br>Writing Skills!

Master Storyteller Improves Your Writing - $29.95

Become a better writing with this series of interactive exercises.

BS00865A.gif (2933 bytes)

How to Create Great Characters DVD - $19.95

A 90 minute video program recorded during Dramatica co-creator Melanie Anne Phillips' live in-person seminar on story structure and storytelling.

Click to enlarge

Structure vs. Passion - Audio CD $19.95

The Story Mind approach to writing uses your own passions to create your story's structure.  It focuses your efforts, clarifies the direction of your story, and triggers your imagination.

Writing with the Story Mind - Audio CD - $19.95

Learn how to psychoanalyze your story's "mind" to uncover and treat problems with characters, plot, theme, and genre.


Academic Prices - Discounts on Select Products

Are you a student, teacher, or academic staffer?  Get the very best price on select products with these manufacturer sponsored academic discounts! 


Package Deals - Starting at $49.95

Get deep discounts with these bundles of our most popular writing products.

Writer's Survival Kit Bonus Package - FREE!

Free with ANY purchase - Writing software, online writing workshops, writing seminars on video, story theory book, and much, MUCH more! 







Subscribe to Storymind Writing Tips Newsletter


Most Popular





Creative Writing

Constructive Criticisms

The Story Mind

Story Points



Story Development

Story Structure

Dramatica Theory

Dramatica Software



The Story Mind






Story Ecoding




Story Structure eBook

4 Hour Audio Program
on Story Sructure


Story Struicture inThe Real World eBook

eBooks, Guides

Demos & Trials

Subscribe to Storymind Writing Tips Newsletter

Contact Us - About Us - Lowest Price Guarantee - Shipping - Return Policy

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips - Owner,, Creator Storyweaver, Co-creator Dramatica