A step by
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Grouping the 16
A Better Way to Group Elements
A better way to organize these characteristics is to separate the Action Elements from
the Decision Elements. Of course, since the Eight Archetypal Character Types describe a
specific pairing of Action characteristic to Decision characteristic, when we separate the
sets, we cannot keep the Archetypal Character names as their contents are split.
Nevertheless, it is much more useful to arrange the Elements by their similar natures
rather than by the simple arrangement contained in the Archetypal Characters.
With 16 characteristics, we can create four quads of four characteristics each. This grows
from having a Driver Character Quad and a Passenger Character Quad, then splitting each in
two (Action Quad and Decision Quad), giving us four Quads: the Action Driver Quad, the
Decision Driver Quad, the Action Passenger Quad, and the Decision Passenger Quad.
Motivation Element Quads
Using the Quads to Gain Meaning
In Dramatica, a group of four Quads is called a Set. Note how the set above provides
additional meaning. For example, when dealing with a problem of Action in terms of
Drivers, one would have the choice to Pursue, Prevent, Help, or Hinder. When a Character
represents the Drive to Pursue, it applies itself to achieving the goal. Although it may
also want the goal to be achieved, a Help Character focuses its efforts on being useful to
the Pursuit of the goal rather than instigating its own effort. This explains the
functions of and relationship between the Protagonist's Drive (Pursue) and the Guardian's
Similarly, when a Protagonist's Drive is Pursue, an Antagonist's Drive is Prevent. And, of
course, the Contagonist Hinders the Protagonist's Pursuit. In fact, when we consider all
four Quads, we can obtain a very precise understanding of why the Eight Archetypal
Characters are created as they are and exactly how they relate.
Complex Arrangements of Character Elements
So far we have only explored sixteen different character Elements. One way to create
complex characters is by assigning these sixteen Elements to characters in non-archetypal
patterns. However, as great as the number of potential characters that can be created is,
this limited set of sixteen Elements is still not sufficient to describe all the
rich complexities of the Objective Characters we see in sophisticated stories. This is
because these sixteen Elements only represent character Motivations. In fact, we
call them the Sixteen Motivation Elements.
Characters Do Not Live By Motivations Alone
Like real people, characters are driven by Motivations, but they also aspire to
different Purposes, employ different Methodologies in the effort to achieve
those purposes, and use different Means of Evaluation to determine the
effectiveness of their efforts. The old adage that one should create three
dimensional characters falls short by one dimension. Fully realized characters are four
dimensional possessing an Action and Decision Element in each dimension.
In the following sections we will explore two kinds of character complexity. First we will
look at ways to rearrange the Motivation Elements, and second, we will outline how to
bring the other three character dimensions into play.
Star Wars Characters
in Four Motivation Quads
Once again, to enhance our "feel" for these relationships, let's add the names
of the Characters in Star Wars to the Quads.
As before, the amazingly pure Archetypal Characters of Star Wars
translate into a completely symmetrical pattern. Each Character has an Action Quad
characteristic and a Decision Quad characteristic. Each pair of Characters is in direct
opposition, both internally and externally. Further, Driver Archetypes are represented
exclusively in the Driver Quads, and Passenger Archetypes are found entirely within the
in Four Motivation Quads
The Wizard of Oz
In looking at these patterns, the Passenger Characters in The Wizard of Oz
seem very much like the Passenger Characters in Star Wars, with that one
notable exception of the "flipping" of Logic and Feeling in relation to Control
and Uncontrolled. In other words, the two Characters simply traded places on one Dynamic
Pair of Elements in a single Quad. It makes sense that a stereotypical Reason Character
would be logical AND controlled, and a stereotypical Emotion Character would be feeling
AND uncontrolled. But if you simply flip the Action Characteristics in relation to the
Decision Characteristics, far more versatile Characters are created -- characters whose
approach is no longer in complement to their attitude, but in conflict with
it. In a sense, these Characters are made more interesting by creating an inequity within
them even as they continue to represent methods of problem solving within the Story Mind.
Looking at the Wizard and the Wicked Witch we see that the other kind of swapping of
characteristics also creates much less stereotypical Characters. Rather than a tempter,
the Wicked Witch becomes a completely action-oriented pest not only trying to prevent
Dorothy from achieving her goal, but hindering her every step on the way as well. The
Wizard becomes a purely decision-oriented tempter who represents taking the apparent easy
way out while also (through his fearsome reputation, embodiment, and requests) urging
Dorothy and her friends to reconsider their decisions. This lack of action characteristics
may help explain why the Wizard is so obviously absent during most of the story, although
his influence is felt throughout. Obviously, the nature of the combinations of
characteristics has a great impact on which decisions and actions the audience will expect
and accept from a Character.
in Four Motivation Quads
Clearly, the Driver Character characteristics in Jaws are as simple as
those in Star Wars. In fact, they are identical in terms of which
characteristics are combined into a single Character. However, when we look at the
Passenger Character characteristics, we see a new phenomenon: some of those Elements are
present in the Driver Characters, two of whom are doing multiple duty.
The Mayor represents Temptation and Hinder as a Driver Character but also represents the
Passenger characteristics of Disbelief and Oppose. Hooper, a Driver in Conscience and
Help, also represents Logic and Uncontrolled, putting him in conflict with Quint. It is
clear that these "multi-characteristic" Characters are much more complex in
their make-up and therefore in their interactions than Archetypes. For this reason we
refer to them as Complex Characters.
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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
Dramatica is a registered trademark of Screenplay Systems Incorporated
the Dramatica Theory Home Page
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About Dramatica and
Hi, I'm Melanie Anne Phillips,
creator of StoryWeaver,
co-creator of Dramatica
and owner of Storymind.com. 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
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How They Do It
Dramatica has the world's only
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StoryWeaver uses a revolutionary new
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How They Work
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
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But, the finished work of a
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And the finished work of an intuitive writer can often lack direction, which is
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So, while each kind of writer will
find one program or the other the most initially appealing, both kinds of
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Try Both Programs
We have a 90
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