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The Lost Theory Book .JPG (27012 bytes)

Written by
Melanie Anne Phillips

Based on the Dramatica theory of story
originally developed by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley

 

DRAMATICA - 
THE LOST THEORY BOOK

 

Prologue

Before the final version of "Dramatica - a New Theory of Story" there was an earlier draft which contained unfininished concepts and additional theory that was ultimately deemed "too complex".  As a result, this material was never fully developed, was cut from the final version of the book, and has never seen the light of day -- until now!   Recently, a copy of this early draft surfaced in the theory archives.  The following are excerpts from this "lost" text.

CAVEAT:

Because the text that follows was not fully developed, portions may be incomplete, inaccurate, or actually quite wrong.

It is presented as a look into the history of the development of Dramatica and also as a source of additional theory concepts that (with further development) may prove useful.

 

Introduction

Everybody loves a good story.

"Good" stories seem to transcend language, culture, age, sex, and even time. They speak to us in some universal language. But what makes a story good? And what exactly is that universal language?

Stories can be expressed in any number of ways. They can be related verbally through the spoken word and song. They can be told visually through art and dance. For every sense there are numerous forms of expression. There almost seems no limit to how stories can be related.

Yet for all of its variety, the question remains: "What makes a good story, "good"? What makes a bad story, "bad""?

This book presents a completely new way to look at stories - a way that explains the universal language of stories not just in terms of how it works, but why and how that language was developed in the first place. By discovering what human purposes stories fulfill, we can gain a full understanding of what they need to do, and therefore what we, as authors need to do to create "good" stories.

To that end, Dramatica does not just describe how stories work, but how they should work.

 

Storyforming vs. Storytelling

Before we proceed, it is important to separate Storyform from Storytelling. As an example of what we mean, if we compare West Side Story to Romeo and Juliet, we can see that they are essentially the same story, told in a different way. The concept that an underlying structure exists that is then represented in a subjective relating of that structure is not new to traditional theories of story. In fact, Narrative Theory in general assumes such a division.

Specifically, Structuralist theory sees story as having a histoire consisting of plot, character and setting, and a discours that is the storytelling. The Russian Formalists separated things a bit differently, though along similar lines seeing story as half fable or "fabula", which also contained the order in which events actually happened in the fable, and the "sjuzet", which was the order in which these events were revealed to an audience.

These concepts date back at least as far as Aristotle's Poetics.

In Dramatica, Story is seen as containing both structure and dynamics that include Character, Theme, Plot, and Perspective, while classifying the specific manner in which the story points are illustrated and the order information is given to the audience into the realm of storytelling.

Storyforming: an argument that a specific approach is the best (or worst) solution to a particular problem

Storytelling: the portrayal of the argument as interpreted by the author

Picture five different artists, each painting her interpretation of the same rose. One might be highly impressionistic, another in charcoal. They are any number of styles an artist might choose to illustrate the rose. Certainly the finished products are works of art. Yet behind the art is the objective structure of the rose itself: the object that was being portrayed.

The paintings are hung side by side in a gallery, and we, as sophisticated art critics, are invited to view them. We might have very strong feelings about the manner in which the artists approached their subject, and we may even argue that the subject itself was or was not an appropriate choice. Yet, if asked to describe the actual rose solely on the basis of what we see in the paintings, our savvy would probably fail us.

We can clearly see that each painting is of a rose. In fact, depending on the degree of realism, we may come to the conclusion that all the paintings are of the same rose. In that case, each artist has succeeded in conveying the subject. Yet, there is so much detail missing. Each artist may have seen the rose from a slightly different position. Each artist has chosen to accentuate certain qualities of the rose at the expense of others. That is how the un-embellished subject is imbued with the qualities of each artist, and the subject takes on a personal quality.

This illustrates a problem that has plagued story analysts and theorists from day one:

Once the story is told, it is nearly impossible to separate the story from the telling unless you know what the author actually had in mind.

Certainly the larger patterns and dramatic broad strokes can be seen working within a story, but many times it is very difficult to tell if a particular point, event, or illustration was merely chosen by the author's preference of subject matter or if it was an essential part of the structure and dynamics of the argument itself.

Let's sit in once more on our first storyteller. She was telling us about her run-in with a bear. But what if it had been a lion instead? Would it have made a difference to the story? Would it have made it a different story altogether?

If the story's problem was about her approach to escaping from any wild animal, then it wouldn't really matter if it were a bear or a lion; the argument might be made equally well by the use of either. But if her point was to argue her approach toward escaping from bears specifically, then certainly changing the culprit to a lion would not serve her story well.

Essentially, the difference between story and storytelling is like the difference between denotation and connotation. Story denotatively documents all of the essential points of the argument in their appropriate relationships, and storytelling shades the point with information nonessential to the argument itself (although it often touches on the same subject).

In summary, even the best structured story does not often exist as an austere problem solving argument, devoid of personality. Rather, the author embellishes her message with connotative frills that speak more of her interests in the subject than of the argument she is making about it. But for the purposes of understanding the dramatic structure of the piece, it is essential to separate story from storytelling.

Traditionally, theories of story have looked at existing works and attempted to classify patterns that could be seen to be present in several stories. In fact, even today, computer scientists working in "narrative intelligence" gather enormous data bases of existing stories that are broken down into every discernable pattern in the attempt to create a program that can actually tell stories.

Dramatica was not created by observing existing stories and looking for patterns, but by asking new questions: Why should there be characters at all? What is the purpose of Act divisions? What is the reason for Scenes? In short, Why are there stories in the first place?

[Lost Theory Book Contents]

 

Visit the Dramatica Theory Home Page

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*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.

 
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StoryWeaver - $29.95

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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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