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.
powerful story structuring software available, Dramatica is driven by a
patented "Story Engine" that cross-references your dramatic
choices to ensure a perfect structure.
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.
index cards - Name them, add notes, titles, colors, click and drag to
re-arrange, adjust font, save, export and print. An essential tool for
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Other Character Dimensions
What's the Purpose?
- When authors describe their characters, they are often asked to state a characters'
motivations. A common reply might be, "The character Jane wants to be
president." Often that is accepted as a valid motivation. In fact, becoming president
is Jane's Purpose, not her motivation. Her motivation may be that she felt
no control over her life as a child. Or she might be motivated by a love of the natural
world, hoping to instigate a national conservation plan. She might be motivated by a
desire for an equal rights amendment.
Just knowing what her purpose is does not tell us anything about what Jane is driven by
but only what she is driven toward. Any of the stated motivations would be
sufficient to explain Jane's purpose of becoming president. Conversely, if Jane's
motivation were the first example - a lack of control over her life as a child - several
different purposes might satisfy that motivation. She might become a school teacher, a
drill sergeant, or a religious leader. Clearly, motivations do not specifically dictate
purposes, nor are purposes indicative of any particular motivations.
Step into the Fourth Dimension....
- In Dramatica, we refer to Motivation as a Character Dimension. Often it is said that
characters must be three-dimensional to seem like real people. Dramatica sees four
dimensions as necessary to flesh out a character. Motivations and Purposes are the first
and last dimensions, but that is not enough. Motivation gives a character the force to
move, Purpose gives a character a direction in which to move. But how is he actually going
to get to where he wants to go? For this, he needs a Methodology, which is the third
dimension of character. Methodologies describe the kinds of approaches a character might
use in its efforts to achieve its purposes.
This might seem like enough dimensions. After all, we have a beginning (motivation), a
middle (methodology), and an end (purpose). Still, there is one remaining dimension
lacking: Evaluations. Evaluations are the standards by which characters measure their
All right, Buddy... Where's the conflict?!
- As an example of the concept of Evaluation, imagine two business partners who share
motivations, methodologies and purposes. They might agree on what drives them (a
motivation to be independent), what they want to achieve (a purpose of creating a thriving
business), and how to achieve that (word-of-mouth advertising as a methodology). Still,
they might argue if sales are up but satisfaction is low because one evaluates based on
gross sales and the other evaluates based on customer satisfaction. Their word-of-mouth
methodology brings in more business because their prices are good, but repeat business is
non-existent because of poor customer satisfaction. As a result, the two partners argue
all the time, even though they agree in all three dimensions of Motivation, Methodology,
Difficulties can arise between characters in any one of the four dimensions, even though
they might agree completely in one or more of the other dimensions. In short, characters
are never fully developed unless they are represented in all four dimensions, and they may
come into conflict over any combination of Motivations, Methodologies, Means of
Evaluation, or Purposes.
The Sixty-Four Element Question
- Each of the character dimensions contains sixteen Elements, as we have already seen with
Motivations. Each character dimension is referred to as a Set of Elements. All four Sets
come together to create what is called a Chess Set (due to its eight by eight grid)
as illustrated below:
- A good way to get a feel for the content of and relationships between character
dimensions is through the Archetypal Characters. Beginning with the Motivation Set, when
we superimpose the Archetypal Characters onto the character Elements, an "archetypal
pattern" appears as follows:
Mapping the Archetypal Pattern
The archetypal pattern formed in the Motivation Set clearly illustrates the consistency
and balance of the character Elements. In each quad of four Elements, the items that are
diagonal from one another hold the greatest potential for conflict because they are exact
For example, Pursuit is the opposite of Avoid. As a result, when we place the Protagonist
on the Motivation of Pursuit, we would expect the Antagonist to represent Avoid. As we
have illustrated in the previous section, that is exactly the case. Similarly, when we
place the Reason Archetype on Logic, it comes as no surprise to find Emotion residing on
Feeling, since it is diagonal from Logic. In fact, every pair of Archetypes that are in a
diagonal relationship will generate the greatest dynamics between them. This is why we
call two Elements in diagonal opposition a Dynamic Pair.
Shifting our attention to the Methodology Set, a very useful thing becomes evident.
Because the Methodology Elements are also arranged in Dynamic Pairs, we can simply
duplicate the Archetypal pattern from the Motivation Set and the Archetypal Characters
will cover the Methods they represent in stories as well.
- For example, a Protagonist who is Motivated by Pursuit employs a Methodology of
Pro-action, and a Skeptic who is Motivated to Oppose employs a Methodology of
This Archetypal Pattern continues through all four character dimensions such that a
Protagonist will be motivated by Pursuit, employ a Methodology of Pro-action, Evaluate its
progress by the Effect it has, and strive toward achieving Actuality as its Purpose. Each
of the Archetypal Characters follows the same pattern for both its External and Internal
characteristics, resulting in an alignment of character Elements in four dimensions.
Complex Dimensional Patterns
Most stories tend to emphasize one dimension over the others. Character Motivations are
often made most prominent. Still, many stories are written that compare the methods used
by characters, question their purposes, or carry a message that a Means of Evaluation is
actually the cause of the problem. Some characters become famous for characteristics other
than Motivations, such as a notable detective who employs a methodology of Deduction.
Being aware of all four character dimensions adds a level of versatility in creating
complex characters as well. Characters might be Archetypal in one dimension, but fall into
complex patterns in another. Also, a character may have three Motivations that drive it,
yet strive toward a single Purpose that it hopes will satisfy all three. Some characters
may not be represented at all in one or more dimensions, making them both more complex and
less well-rounded at the same time. To fully make the argument of any story, however, all
sixty-four Elements must be represented in one character or another. In addition, a key
point to remember is: Unless a character represents at least one Element, it is not
fulfilling a dramatic function and is therefore being employed for storytelling only.
What's In a Pair?
- Finally, we can use our Chess Set of Elements to learn something more about our
character's relationships. In each quad of Elements, we find not only Dynamic (diagonal)
Pairs, but horizontal and vertical pairs as well. Horizontal Elements are called Companion
Pairs, and vertical Elements are Dependent Pairs. Each kind of pair describes a different
kind of relationship between the Elements, and therefore between the characters that
In addition to the three types of pairs, we can look at each Element as a separate
component and compare it to the overall nature of the quad itself. This Component approach
describes the difference between any given Element and the family of Elements in which it
resides (quad). Therefore, the degree of individuality the characters represent within the
"group" can be explored.
- Dynamic Pairs describe Elements with the greatest opposition to one another.
Whenever two opposing forces come together they will create either a positive or negative
relationship. They can form a synthesis and create something greater than the sum
of the parts or they can simply tear away at each other until nothing is left (destructive).
Within a quad, one of the Dynamic Pairs will indicate a positive relationship, the other a
negative one. Which is which depends upon other story dynamics.
Companion Pairs contain the Elements that are most compatible. However, just being
compatible does not preclude a negative relationship. In a positive Companion Pair,
characters will proceed along their own paths, side by side. What one does not need they
will offer to the other (positive impact). In a negative Companion Pair, one
character may use up what the other needs. They are not against each other as in a
negative Dynamic Pair, but still manage to interfere with each other's efforts (negative
Dependent Pairs are most complementary. In a positive sense, each character
provides strengths to compensate for the other's weaknesses (cooperation). Together
they make a powerful team. In its negative incarnation, the Dependent Pair Relationship
has each character requiring the other in order to proceed (codependency).
Components describe the nature of the Elements in relationship to the overall quad.
On the one hand, the individual characters in a quad can be a group that works together (interdependency).
The group is seen to be greater than the individual characters that comprise it, at the
risk of overwhelming the individuality of its members. This is contrasted by identifying
the disparate nature of each character in the quad (independency). Seen this way,
the characters are noted for their distinguishing characteristics at the risk of losing
sight of shared interests.
Dynamic Relationships are the most familiar to writers, simply because they generate the
most obvious kind of conflict. Companion and Dependent Pairs are used all the time without
fanfare, as there has previously been no terminology to describe them. Components are
useful to writers because they allow characters in groups to be evaluated in and out of
By constructing characters with thought and foresight, an author can use the position of
Elements in the Chess Set to forge relationships that are Dynamic in one dimension while
being Companion and Dependent in others. Characters created with Dramatica can represent
both the structural Elements of the Story Mind's problem solving techniques and the
dynamic interchange between those techniques.
- Altogether we have outlined four dimensions of characteristics, each fostering an aspect
of the eight Archetypes. Each of the Archetypes can be sub-divided into internal and
external Elements resulting in a total of sixteen Elements in each dimension -- a total of
sixty-four characteristics from all four dimensions with which to build characters.
Complex character can be created by stepping out of the archetypal patterns and
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The Dramatica theory was developed by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
Chief Architect of the Dramatica software is Stephen
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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
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
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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
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
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.
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