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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The Art of Storytelling
Introduction To Storyencoding
Storyencoding is simply the process of turning the raw appreciations of a
storyform structure into the flesh and blood people, places, and events of a story that
can be told.
As an example, suppose in our storyform we have selected an Objective Domain of Universe.
As we have learned, this means that the Objective throughline revolves around an external
situation. Now, when it comes to actually writing our story, we are not going to put down
on paper, "The Objective throughline was revolving around an external
situation." Our audience would have a lot of trouble getting involved with that!
Instead, we're going to connect that bare appreciation to something concrete so the
audience can relate to what we're talking about.
To make this appreciation real, we ask ourselves, "What kind of a situation is
it?" One author might choose to say, "The situation around which my Objective
throughline revolves is that a group of travelers are trapped in a sunken ship." That
fulfills the dramatic function called for by the appreciation that the Objective Domain is
Another author might choose to encode an Objective Story Domain of Universe by saying,
"The situation around which my Objective throughline revolves is that the parents of
five children have died in a car crash, leaving the children to fend for themselves."
Clearly, each appreciation might be encoded in any number of ways. Which way you choose
depends only on the kinds of subject matter you wish to explore. How you encode each
appreciation will determine much of the setting of your story in a Genre sense, the kinds
of things that might happen in you plot, the thematic issues that are likely to rise to
the surface, and the nature of the people populating your story.
Once the concept of encoding is understood, another issue often comes up:
"Storyforming and then Storyencoding doesn't seem like a very organic way to go about
creating a story." Well, we can't argue with that. You see, most authors are
attracted to a story not by the underlying structure, but by some element of storytelling.
It could be a setting or a character or a bit of action -- anything that stimulates the
imagination. In fact, most authors don't even think about a message at this stage.
What gets them started is some intriguing concept, and the remainder of their effort in
developing that concept is to try and build a story around it.
At first, things go very smoothly. But at some point along the way there is a hole and no
inspiration to fill it. Or, there are some incompatibilities or inconsistencies and no
idea how to fix them. It is at this point that authors beat their heads against the wall,
run in circles screaming and shouting, and tell their story to every remaining friend they
have in hope of getting some comment that will clear the creative skies.
It is a lot easier if you have a storyform.
If you already know what your story is about, then all you need to do is illustrate
it. Rather than being constraining, this process is liberating. You can let your
imagination run wild, then hold up each new inspiration to the storyform and see if there
is an appreciation that idea will encode. You may have to tweak it a bit to make sure it
will communicate the appreciation accurately, but if your intuition is pretty much on the
mark, then just about anything you come up with is likely to be a part of the puzzle and
simply needs to be nuanced a bit to slip it into the job it really ought to be doing.
Some of the appreciations in your storyform will already be encoded. In fact, they were
encoded before you created the storyform; that's how you knew which appreciations to
select. If you are using the Dramatica software, after making a limited number of
selections (perhaps twelve or even fewer!) all the remaining appreciations are selected by
the Story Engine. In other words, the model of story programmed into the software has
calculated the dramatic influence of the selections you've made and determined that all
the remaining appreciations for a balanced and complete story structure.
In the case above, many of the appreciations predicted by the Story Engine may not yet
connect with anything you have already developed. Rather, you find in your Storyform a
Goal of Obtaining, for example, and wonder, "Obtaining what? What are my
characters after?" This is when you think about what you do know about your
story. Maybe it takes place in a circus. Then a Goal of Obtaining could be getting to
perform in the center ring, or winning a place as a permanent attraction in a new
mega-amusement park. Your story might be about a mountain man, and his Goal of Obtaining
might be to find a wife, or to get a ranch of his own. It really doesn't matter how
you encode an appreciation, as long as the encoding carries the message of the story
through one more stage of communication between author and audience.
Finally, if you are not using the Dramatica software, you will have selected your
appreciations by feel or topic. Some may have been chosen as appropriate to specific ideas
you are working with, but the rest just seemed appropriate to the story you have in your
mind and/or in your heart. We're back to intuition again here. And once again, you will
need to examine those appreciations which do not yet have specific encoding in your story
and ask your muse to suggest something.
In the end, even if the storytelling may be atrocious it will at least make sense if it is
built on a sound storyform.
The remainder of this section presents hints and tips for encoding all four aspects of
story: Character, Theme, Plot, and Genre. By far, Character is the most complex of these
for it requires the greatest subtlety and nuance to fashion believable people who still
manage to fulfill their dramatic functions. As a result, you will find the character
section the longest of the lot, and also, due to its importance, the first one we address.
to the Next Section of the Book-->
How to Order Dramatica:
A New Theory of Story
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
Dramatica is a registered trademark of Screenplay Systems Incorporated
the Dramatica Theory Home Page
Try Dramatica & StoryWeaver Risk
*Try either or both for 90 days. Not working for you?
Return for a full refund of your purchase price!
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
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
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.
Try Both Programs
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
Complete Catalog of Products
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to Create Great Characters DVD - $19.95
A 90 minute
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vs. Passion - Audio CD $19.95
Mind approach to writing uses your own passions to create your story's
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with the Story Mind - Audio CD - $19.95
Learn how to
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