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Matching Points Of View To The Chart
To reiterate: Theme is perspective. Perspective is created by the relationship between two
things: what is being looked at and where it is being seen from. In stories, what is being
looked at is the nature of the problem and its ramifications.
To define the story's problem we start with its Class, then find out what Type of problem
it is within that Class. Next we see what Variation of that Type the problem is and then
finally work down to the Elemental nature of the problem, which is reflected in Character.
Now we need to see what each of those aspects of the problem looks like from each of the
four points of view an audience will expect in a complete story. Let's begin with the
Objective Story Domain
All four of the Classes of problem (Universe - a situation, Mind - a fixed
attitude, Physics - an activity, and Psychology - a manner of thinking) will show up in a
complete story. As it turns out, one will represent the way the Objective Story view sees
the problem, one the Main Character's view of it, one the Obstacle Character's view, and
the remaining Class will tell us how the problem looks from the Subjective Story view.
The first key, then, to creating thematic perspectives in a story is to assign each of the
four throughlines to the four Classes in the structure. Once this is accomplished, the
most broad stroke foundations of the author's biases on the story's issues have been laid.
As an example, objectively, the problem in a particular story might seem to be a
situation. This means that the Objective Story point of view and the Universe Class would
be matched or linked in such a story. When we assign a point of view to a Class, we
say that Class is the point of view's Domain. In other words, all that we see in
our hypothetical story from the Objective Story view can be found in the Universe Class,
so the Universe Class is the Objective Story Domain.
Assigning a point of view to a Class creates the perspective, and therefore changes the
way dramatic items in that Class appear.
For example, if Universe is the Objective Story Domain, the story at large would be
about a situation that affects all the characters in the story to some degree. Such a
story might be about people in a post-nuclear holocaust world, prisoners of war in a
concentration camp, or two teenagers from rival gang families who have fallen in love. In
each case, the external situation is the cause of the story's problems, when we see them
objectively. Also in each case, all of the characters in the story will be affected by the
same situation, which is the definition of the problem when seen from the "they"
point of view, like that of the general on the hill watching the battle. The audience will
want to see what the problem looks like from this point of view to feel that the issues of
the story have been fully explored.
In contrast, if the Main Character point of view were assigned to the Universe Class, the
Universe Class would become the Main Character Domain. In a different hypothetical story
with this arrangement, only the Main Character would be in the situation; the other
characters would be involved in one of the remaining Classes. In such a story where
Universe is the Main Character Domain, the situation might be that the Main Character is
second in command on a battleship, has a physical deformity like The Elephant Man,
or particular race or sex. In other words, the Main Character will be best described as a
result of his personal situation, which will be some external condition that is causing
difficulties only for that character. Quite a difference from an Objective Story situation
that affects all the characters in a story (including the Main Character).
Before we move to the Type, Variation, and Element levels, let's take a brief look at each
of the sixteen Class/throughline combinations that might be created.
Universe as Objective Story Domain
When Universe is the Objective Story Domain the story's troubles are best described as
pertaining to a Situation. This will be an overview concept: all of the Objective
Characters in the story will see the common source of their troubles as emanating from an
external situation. Just because the situation is external and objective does not mean it
must be without feeling, but simply that the situation is not personal to the audience.
Physics as Objective Story Domain
An Objective Story Domain of Physics means the story's troubles are caused by an activity
gone wrong. This might be an activity engaged in by people or existing in nature. Either
way, the "perpetuation" of this activity is what generates all the difficulties
faced by the Objective Characters. There is often the tendency to think of an activity in
the large scale, making it macroscopic; larger than life. But dry rot works as well as a
marauding horde in creating problems big enough to drive a story. The only constraint is
that the activity must be an external one that is causing the difficulties.
Situation vs. Activities
It is easy to think of kinds of activities that border on being situations.
For example, we might want to tell a story about a disease. If the story's problem stems
from having the disease, it is a situation. If the story's problem is actually
caused by fighting the disease, it is an activity. Because all four Classes will
show up in a complete story, it is likely that both having and fighting the disease will
show up as things unfold. The thematic question here is: which one is seen objectively, or
phrased another way, which one is best seen as the cause of the problems for all
the characters throughout the entire story - having it or fighting it?
Mind as Objective Story Domain
Mind is an internal state, describing problems which come from fixed attitudes. When Mind
is chosen as the Objective Story Domain, the problems that affect all the characters will
stem from internal attitudes and fixations. For example, an Objective Story Domain of Mind
might be about how prejudice affects a town or how a humiliating memory affects a kingdom.
In contrast, Universe and Physics Objective Stories deal with external states and
processes. A selection of Mind as the Objective Story Domain specifically means that the
source of the difficulties between all the Objective Characters is best seen as a
problematic state of mind.
Psychology as Objective Story Domain
Psychology is an internal process, describing problems which come from the ways in which
people think. When Psychology is chosen as the Objective Story Domain, the problems that
affect all the characters will stem from manipulations and conflicting processes of
thought. As opposed to the fixed attitudes described in the Mind Class, Psychology is
about problems which arise from manners of thinking. For example, an Objective Story
Domain of Psychology might be about the problems caused in a regiment that has been overly
trained to follow orders or in a dysfunctional family which is trying to manipulate each
other into a nervous breakdown.
Main Character Domain
Because an audience identifies most strongly with the Main Character, choosing a Main
Character Domain is like asking your potential audience, "Where's your mind at?"
This Domain describes the realm in which the Main Characters operates. Each Class,
therefore, provides a completely different mind set for the Main Character.
Universe as Main Character Domain
Universe is a Class of situations. A Universe Main Character finds himself in a situation.
The situation in question can be a social status issue, such as being a certain race or
gender or being queen or king. It could be a predicament such as being a rock star, or it
could be a physical condition such as having an extremely large nose or exceptional
beauty. Each of these illustrations shows a Main Character as being defined by the
situation in which he is found.
Mind as Main Character Domain
A Mind Main Character will be defined as holding onto a fixed attitude. Such a character
might be suffering from a prejudice, haunted by a suppressed memory, or unable to shake a
crush on the kid down the street. In each case, it is a fixed state of mind that causes
the Main Character's difficulties.
Physics as Main Character Domain
A Physics Main Character is a person of action. For example, he might be doing something
just to do it, or he might be trying to obtain or achieve something. Other activities of a
Physics Main Character might be learning or seeking to understand something. At first
learning and understanding might seem too internal to be Physics, but consider that these
activities are applied externally. Learning is gathering information about
something and understanding is seeking the meaning of something. This is quite different
than coming up with original thought which would be internal.
Psychology as Main Character Domain
A Main Character Domain of Psychology indicates an individual who is best described by how
he thinks. This could be a flighty person, someone who jumps to conclusions, or even a
calculating, manipulative person. In each of these scenarios, the opinions the Main
Character holds are not what sets him apart, but rather the kinds of mental processes he
goes through. Though there may be many Objective Characters who represent manners of
thinking, only the Main Character will provide the audience with the experience of
thinking that way.
The Main Character has Class
Clearly, the nature and concerns of a Main Character change radically from Class
to Class. If you are most interested in exploring your Main Character in a story, then
choosing the Main Character Class before any others is the way to approach developing a
story. Keep in mind, though, that once a Class has been assigned to one of the four
Domains in a story, it cannot be assigned to any of the others. So whatever you might pick
for your Main Character's Class will not be available for the Objective Story, Subjective
Story or Obstacle Character.
Obstacle Character Domain
It is important to be clear about the difference between the Main Character and the
Obstacle Character. The audience looks through the Main Character's eyes, and through them
looks at the Obstacle Character. Through the Main Character, we feel what it is
like to be in a particular predicament. With the Obstacle Character we see an external
view of what someone else looks like in the same predicament. Since we cannot really climb
into and become this character, we can only judge him by how he affects the characters and
events around him.
As an example, if a Main Character were handicapped, during the duration of the story the
audience members would also feel handicapped, suffering the problems this creates as if it
were a problem in their own lives. If the Obstacle Character were handicapped, the
audience would examine the problem from the outside, learning more about the difficulties
logistically, not experientially. The focus would be on how this handicap impacts others.
"Impact" is the key word to keep in mind when examining the story's problem in
the Obstacle Character Domain.
Universe as Obstacle Character Domain
An Obstacle Character with a Domain of Universe will impact others because of his social
status, race, gender, physical attributes, position or station. Whatever the situation
might be, it provides the alternative paradigm to the Main Character's view of things.
Physics as Obstacle Character Domain
A Physics Domain Obstacle Character will be a person whose actions in the areas of
Learning, Understanding, Doing, or Obtaining (the four Physics Types) make a case against
the Main Character's point of view. At the end of such a story, the audience will not have
experienced what it feels like to engage in these activities, but will know a lot about
what impact these activities have.
Mind as Obstacle Character Domain
The Mind Obstacle Character exhibits a fixation or attitude dealing primarily with
memories, desires, immediate responses or considerations. It is this attitude that causes
the Main Character to reconsider and/or justify his position.
Psychology as Obstacle Character Domain
A Psychology Obstacle Character influences others through direct manipulation or may just
have an impact because of the way in which he thinks. In either case, the focus of this
Domain is an external view of how thought process affect those whom come in contact with
Subjective Story Domain
The Subjective Story Domain is the realm of the story's Passionate Argument. This is where
the author creates meaning for the audience's emotional appraisal of a story's message.
The primary focus is on the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters.
Since the Main and Obstacle Characters are, by definition, at odds with one another, the
Subjective Story Domain forms the background against which the battle between them is
fought. As a result, choosing a Class as the Subjective Story Domain affects how a story feels
to an audience.
Universe as Subjective Story Domain
A Subjective Story Domain of Universe has the Main and Obstacle Characters at odds over a
situation that exists between them. This could be a marriage contract, business
partnership, a chain of military command, being caretaker for an invalid, any kind of
employment situation, etc. To properly illustrate a Subjective Story Domain of Universe,
you will need to create a situation that is principally limited to some sort of
relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters that involves the past, present,
progress, or future.
Physics as Subjective Story Domain
If Physics is the Subjective Story Domain, the Main and Obstacle Characters will be
grappling over an activity. This could be an activity that is leading toward a purpose or
just something engaged in for its own rewards. It might even be a detrimental activity
engaged in as a means of punishing oneself to relieve guilt. Both Main and Obstacle may be
striving to out-do each other at this activity, or one may be for the activity and the
other against it. In any case, the activity lies at the heart of the difficulties between
them and forms the subject of the story's passionate argument if Physics is the Subjective
Mind as Subjective Story Domain
When Mind is selected as the Subjective Story Domain, fixed attitudes or mind-sets form
the battleground of the Main and Obstacle Characters. How many fixed attitudes can we see
as a personal point of contention between two people? A prejudice, political view,
religion, an attitude toward a child or parent, or a feeling of worthlessness would do the
trick. A scenario that portrays the troubles between the Main and Obstacle Characters as
revolving around a fixed state of mind, will successfully represent Mind as the Subjective
Psychology as Subjective Story Domain
Psychology as the Subjective Story Domain has the Main and Obstacle Characters diverging
over a manner of thinking. Phrases like, "You always get this way when we
argue," and "No, I don't - it's you that keeps changing subjects,"
are referring not to a particular attitude, but a manner of thinking that is not
appreciated between the Main and Obstacle Characters. When the way one goes about working
something out becomes the issue between the Main and Obstacle Characters, the Subjective
Story Throughline Domain will be Psychology.
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The Dramatica theory was developed by
Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
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Hi, I'm Melanie Anne Phillips,
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Dramatica is a tool to help you
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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
intuitive writers who like to follow their Muse and develop their stories as
But, the finished work of a
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