Storymind.com Writing Tips & Writing Software
 

Screenwriting Software

Books and Videos on Writing

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

 

Software

 
StoryWeaver

$29.95

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

$149.95

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

$149.95

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

$9.95

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.

Details


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!

Details



 

  

 

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

Chapter 22

Storytelling and Plot Dynamics



Plot Dynamic


Plot Dynamics Examples

Story Work

Action Stories: Hamlet; The Silence of the Lambs; Being There; A Christmas Carol; Rain Man
Decision Stories: The Verdict; Chinatown; The Glass Menagerie; Casablanca; The Godfather; The Story of Job; Charlotte's Web; A Doll's House


Story Limit

Optionlock Stories: Hamlet; The Silence of the Lambs; Being There; The Verdict; Chinatown; The Glass Menagerie; Casablanca; The Godfather; The Story of Job; Rain Man; A Doll's House
Timelock Stories: Charlotte's Web; American Graffiti; High Noon; 48 hrs; A Christmas Carol


Story Outcome

Success Stories: The Silence of the Lambs; Being There; A Christmas Carol; The Verdict; Chinatown; Casablanca; The Godfather; The Story of Job; Charlotte's Web
Failure Stories: Hamlet; The Glass Menagerie; Rain Man; A Doll's House


Story Judgment

Stories with a Judgment of Good: Being There; A Christmas Carol; The Verdict; Casablanca; Charlotte's Web; Rain Man; A Doll's House
Stories with a Judgment of Bad: Hamlet; The Silence of the Lambs; Chinatown; The Godfather; The Glass Menagerie



Work: Action or Decision?

Action or Decision describes how the story is driven forward. The question is: Do Actions precipitate Decisions or vice versa?

At the end of a story there will be an essential need for an Action to be taken and a Decision to be made. However, one of them will be the roadblock that must be removed first in order to enable the other. This causal relationship is felt throughout the story where either Actions would never happen on their own, except that Decisions keep forcing them, or Decisions would never be made except that Actions leave no other choice than to decide. In fact, the "inciting event" that causes the story's Problem in the first place will also match the kind of Work that will be required to resolve it. This "bookends" a story so that its Problem and solution are both precipitated by the same kind of Work: Action or Decision.

Stories contain both Action and Decision. Choosing one does not exclude the other. It merely gives preference to one over the other. Do Actions precipitate Decisions, or do Decisions precipitate Actions?

This preference can be enhanced or nearly balanced out by other dynamic questions you answer about your story. It's really a matter of the background against which you want your Main Character to operate.

The choice of background does not have to reflect the nature of the Main Character. In fact, some very interesting dramatic potentials can be created when they do not match.

For example, a Main Character of action (called a Do-er) forced by circumstance to handle a deliberation-type problem would find himself at a loss for the experience and tools he needs to do the job.

Similarly, a deliberating Main Character (called a Be-er) would find himself whipped into a turmoil if forced to resolve a problem requiring action.

These mixed stories appear everywhere from tragedy to comedy and can add an extra dimension to an otherwise one-sided argument.

Since a story has both Actions and Decisions, it is really a question of which an author wants to come first: chicken or egg? By selecting one over the other, you instruct Dramatica to establish a causal order between dynamic movements in the Action line and the Decision line.

Limit : Timelock or Optionlock?

Limit determines the kind of constraints which will ultimately bring a story to a conclusion.

For an audience, a story's limit adds dramatic tension as they wonder if the characters will accomplish the story's goal. In addition, the limit forces a Main Character to end his deliberations and Change or Remain Steadfast.

Sometimes stories end because of a time limit. Other times they draw to a conclusion because all options have been exhausted. Running out of time is accomplished by a Timelock; running out of options is accomplished by an Optionlock.

Both of these means of limiting the story and forcing the Main Character to decide are felt from early on in the story and get stronger until the moment of truth.

Optionlocks need not be claustrophobic so much as that they provide limited pieces with which to solve the Problem. They limit the scope of the Problem and its potential solutions.

Timelocks need not be hurried so much as they limit the interval during which something can happen. Timelocks determine the duration of the growth of the Problem and the search for solutions.

Choosing a Timelock or an Optionlock has a tremendous impact on the nature of the tension the audience will feel as the story progresses toward its climax.

A Timelock tends to take a single point of view and slowly fragment it until many things are going on at once.

An Optionlock tends to take many pieces of the puzzle and bring them all together at the end.

A Timelock raises tension by dividing attention, and an Optionlock raises tension by focusing it. Timelocks increase tension by bringing a single thing closer to being an immediate problem, Optionlocks increase tension by building a single thing that becomes a functioning problem.

One cannot look just to the climax to determine if a Timelock or Optionlock is in effect. Indeed, both Time and Option locks may be tagged on at the end to increase tension.

A better way to gauge which is at work is to look at the nature of the obstacles thrown in the path of the Protagonist or Main Character. If the obstacles are primarily delays, a Timelock is in effect; if the obstacles are caused by missing essential parts, an Optionlock is in effect.

An author may feel more comfortable building tension by delays or building tension by missing pieces. Choose the kind of lock most meaningful for you.

Outcome: Success or Failure?

Although it can be tempered by degree, Success or Failure is easily determined by seeing whether or not the Objective Characters achieve what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the story.

Certainly, the Objective Characters may learn they really don't want what they thought they did, and in the end not go for it. Even though they have grown, this is considered a Failure -- they did not achieve what they originally intended.

Similarly, they may actually achieve what they wanted, and even though they find it unfulfilling or unsatisfying, it must be said they succeeded.

The point here is not to pass a value judgment on the worth of their Success or Failure, but simply to determine if the Objective Characters actually did succeed or fail in the attempt to achieve what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the story.

Judgment: Good or Bad?

Judgment determines whether or not the Main Character resolves his personal angst.

The rational argument of a story deals with practicality: does the kind of approach taken lead to Success or Failure in the endeavor. In contrast, the passionate argument of a story deals with fulfillment: does the Main Character find peace at the end of his journey?

If you want an upper story, you will want Success in the Objective Story and a Judgment of Good in the Objective Story.

If you want a tragedy, you will want the objective effort to fail, and the subjective journey to end badly as well.

Life is often made of trade-offs, compromises, sacrifices, and re-evaluations, and so should be stories. Choosing Success/Bad stories or Failure/Good stories opens the door to these alternatives.

If we choose a Failure/Good story, we can imagine a Main Character who realizes he had been fooled into trying to achieve an unworthy Goal and discovers his mistake in time, or a Main Character who discovers something more important to him personally in the course of trying to achieve the Goal. Each of these would be called a "personal triumph."

A Success/Bad story might end with a Main Character achieving his dreams only to find they are meaningless, or Main Character who makes a sacrifice for the success of others but ends up bitter and vindictive. Each of these would be a "personal tragedy."

Because Success and Failure are measurements of how well specific requirements have been met, they are by nature objective. In contrast, Good and Bad are subjective value Judgments based on an appreciation of the Main Character's personal fulfillment.



Proceed to the Next Section of the Book-->


How to Order Dramatica: A New Theory of Story

Back to the Table of Contents

Back to the Dramatica 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
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.

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

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! 

 

 

 

Resources

 
Articles

Video/Audio

Downloads

Subscribe to Storymind Writing Tips Newsletter


Articles

Most Popular

Characters

Plot

Theme

Genre

Creative Writing

Constructive Criticisms

The Story Mind

Story Points

Propaganda

Reception

Story Development

Story Structure

Dramatica Theory

Dramatica Software

 


Video/Audio

The Story Mind

Characters

Plot

Theme

Genre

Storyforming

Story Ecoding

Storyweaving

Reception


Downloads

Story Structure eBook

4 Hour Audio Program
on Story Sructure

StoryformingNewsletter

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, Storymind.com, Creator Storyweaver, Co-creator Dramatica