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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.

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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.

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Movie Magic Screenwriter

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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.

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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.

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

Chapter 16

The Elements of Structure

Plot


Plot vs. Storyweaving


A common mistake made when considering plot is to assume that plot refers to the sequence of events in a finished story. A more accurate view considers that there is a difference between the progression of events in a story's structure, and the order in which these are revealed to an audience.

As an example of the difference between the two, we can look to the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. The book opens with five travelers falling to their deaths as the bridge they are crossing collapses. The remainder of the book documents how each of the travelers came to be on that bridge at that time. Clearly, the progression of events for the characters was quite different than the order of revelation granted to the audience.

In contrast, the novel Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. follows the adventures of a Main Character who lives his life out of chronological order. In this case, the mixed-up progression of events is part of the plot's structure, not simply part of the storytelling.

The key difference between these two aspects of plot is that there is an internal logic to the plot's structure from the character's point of view and there is an order in which that logic is revealed to the audience.

Looking toward motion pictures for examples, films such as Pulp Fiction or Remains of the Day present their plots in quite a different order than the events actually occurred. In each of these stories, there is an internal logic to the sequence of events as they occurred in the structure. Then, that sequence is mixed up in order. This new arrangement has a completely different affect on how an audience will respond to each story, yet does not alter the internal logic at all. In other words, if Pulp Fiction or Remains of the Day were re-edited to reveal the plot in chronological order, the message of the story's structure would remain the same, but the viewing experience for the audience would be completely changed.

A prime example of this kind of impact shift can be seen in the film and video versions of the movie, Once Upon a Time in America. The story explores the changing relationships of a group of friends from their days as poor children during the Depression to their ultimate stations in life as old men in today's society. In its original theatrical release, episodes from several different periods in their long history together were jumbled up, so that the audience would see them as old men, then young boys, old men again, and then teenagers. A large part of the enjoyment in watching this film was to try and sort out how one thing would eventually lead to another, and also to determine why some expected things didn't happen after all. In a sense, viewing the movie was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.

In the video release, however, the story was re-edited to chronological order. All the same pieces were there, but the story lost much of their charm, appearing ludicrously simple and predictable in this new form.

The point is: the plot of a story describes the internal logic or sequence of events that lead the characters from their situations and attitudes at the beginning of the problem to their situations and attitudes when the effort to solve the problem is finally over. Once that has been established, an author may choose to rearrange the order in which those events are revealed to the audience. This rearrangement may be integral to the feel of the finished work, but has no effect on the internal logic. As a result, such a technique falls into the realm of storytelling. In Dramatica, storytelling techniques of this nature are called Storyweaving. Storyweaving is fully explored in the portion of this book dealing with The Art of Storytelling. Here, we will only examine the nature of the plot itself.



Proceed to the Next Section of the Book-->


How to Order Dramatica: A New Theory of Story

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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 Greenfield
Dramatica
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 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 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.

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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.

 
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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.

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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.

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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.


 

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