Melanie Anne Phillips
Based on the Dramatica theory of story
originally developed by Melanie Anne Phillips
and Chris Huntley
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.
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.
This segment represents a whole new, previously
unmentioned aspect of Archetypal Characters. After developing the original eight
Archetypes and their Elements with Chris, I went on to consider what the Archetypes might
look like in the Methodologies, Evaluations, and Purposes. Theory-wise, if the
Problem Element of the Objective Story falls in one of these other dimensions of
characters, then the Elements in those dimensions would be the principal ones by which the
Archetypes would be known. In effect, the set of 16 Elements which contains the
Problem Element creates its own, unique "flavor" or variety of Archetypes.
Often, the original 8 Archetypes can seem limiting and lead authors into creating complex
characters when, in fact, all that is really needed is another flavor of Archetypes.
This excerpt describes the second group of 8 of 24 new Archetypes.
Means of Evaluation
As there were Eight Simple Motivation Characters and Eight Simple Methodology
Character, we might expect there to be Eight Simple Evaluation Characters, and so there
are. A Character might evaluate using Calculation, or Guesswork. She could
base her evaluation on Information or Intuition. She might consider the Outcome
of an effort or the Means employed to achieve that Outcome. Finally, she might
expand her considerations to include the Intent behind the effort and the actual
that effort has had.
Putting these Eight Simple Evaluations in Quad form we get:
The Eight Simple Evaluations
The Measuring Quad
The Measured Quad
We can see the patterns of dynamic pairs created between the Eight Simple Evaluations.
Let's define each term for a more complete understanding of their relationships.
Calculation: The Calculating Character establishes an unbroken chain of
relationships that leads to a conclusion. Her thinking will only carry her as far as the
chain can be extended. As soon as she cannot make one thing lead directly to the
next, she will not entertain any speculations beyond that point.
Intuition: The Intuitive Character forms her conclusions from circumstantial or
nebulous input, rather than a definitive line of logic.
Information: The Character who relies on Information will entertain in her
deliberations only definitive packets of data.
Guesswork: The Character who Guesses will fill in the blanks in her information
with what appears most likely to go there.
Outcome: The Outcome measuring Character is only concerned with the immediate
nature of the objective: whether or not, or how well it has been met.
Impact: Measuring Impact, a Character looks at the ripples in the big picture
created by a particular outcome, or looks how well an objective accomplished that for
which it was intended.
Means: The Character measuring Means in most concerned with how an
Objective was met rather than if it was or how well.
Intent: When a Character measures Intent, she is concerned with the expectations
behind the effort that led to the Outcome, whether or not the Outcome was achieved.
Again, these are aspects of Character we have seen before and are familiar with. In our
case, their existence and definitions came as no surprise. Rather, we had just never
previously considered them all at once as a group in which we could clearly see the
relationships among them.
The real value to us as Authors comes in being able to mix and match Motivations,
Methodologies and Evaluations. For example, should we be at work building a Character
whose nature is best described as Guardian, we might select Dogmatic as her method and
Calculation as her tool of evaluation. So this fellow might protect the Protagonist while
stubbornly maintaining an ideology, but evaluating the progress of the quest in a very
calculated manner: a Character of some individuality and depth.
What if we had the same Dogmatic Guardian who employed Guesswork instead. We can feel
the difference in her nature as a result of this change. Now she would protect the
Protagonist, stubbornly maintain an ideology, but base her evaluations of progress on
conjecture rather than denotative relationships. Certainly, this person has a wholly
different "feel" to her, without being wholly different.
The functionality of this is that the way we feel about a Character is based on the sum
total of the combined effect of all levels of her attributes. However, when looking at
these attributes as separate aspects, we can define the differences between Characters in
a precise and specific way in terms of their content and determine if they are nearly the
same or completely different. But when we see the dynamic view of the way in which a
particular set of aspects merge to create the specific force of a given Character, even a
slight change in only one aspect will create a substantially different "feel" to
When a Character oriented Author writes by "feel" she is sensing the overall
impact of a Character's presence. This is not very definable, and therefore dramatic
potentials between Characters are often diminished by incomplete understanding of which
levels are in conflict between two given Characters, and which are not.
We have already seen an example of this in our analysis of Star Wars. Han (as Skeptic)
is only peripherally in conflict with Leia (as Reason). But Han as Dogmatic in directly in
conflict with Leia as Pragmatic. If Han and Leia were to argue, there would be much more
dramatic potential if they argued over trying a new approach than if they argued over
whether or not they ought to take action.
Clearly, the ability to discern the specific nature of the attributes that make up a
Character at all levels allows us to precisely define the nature of inter-Character
conflicts, without losing sight of the overall feeling that each Character carries with
Evaluations in Star Wars
Looking at the Characters of Star Wars in terms of Evaluation only, the arrangement of
attributes is a bit murkier. Since this is primarily a story of action, techniques of
evaluation do not play a big role in the progress of the story and therefore have been
more loosely drawn. Nevertheless, they are present, even if there is somewhat less
consistency than at the Character or Method levels.
Assigning the Eight Simple Evaluations to the Eight Simple Characters of Star Wars by
their most common usage in the story, we generate the following list:
Attaching the Character names
to the Evaluation Quads we get:
The Eight Simple Evaluations
The Measuring Quad
The Measured Quad
Again, we can see subtle conflicts in techniques of Evaluation
between Characters that are compatible at other levels. For the first time, we can see the
tension that as an audience we feel between Darth and the Empire in the "Board
Room" scene on the Death Star where Darth constricts the breathing of the general he
is "bickering" with. The general says to Darth, "...your sorcerer ways have
not helped you conjure up the missing plans...", essentially arguing against
Looking at Luke, we note that in his dinner table discussion with Uncle Owen he argues
his point that he should be allowed to leave with Information: the new droids are working
out, all his friends are at the academy, etc. Another example is the moment Luke bursts
into Leia's cell to release her. Rather than use any other technique, he describes the
situation to her simply by imparting information: "I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to
rescue you. I'm here with Ben Kenobi."
Obi Wan, on the other hand, relies on Guesswork when the Millennium Falcon is chasing
the lone imperial fighter after coming out of hyperspace. He sees the supposed moon, and
guesses, "It's a space station!"
Han is completely Outcome oriented, "I'm just in this for the reward,
sister!", and is thereby again in conflict with Leia as Intent: "If money is all
you care about, then that's what you'll receive."
Chewy can be seen to focus on Means, when he refuses to don the binders for Luke's plan
to rescue Leia.
C3PO is always evaluating impact: " We'll be sent to the spice mines of
Kessel", and, "I suggest a different strategy R2... Let the Wookie win."
R2, as noted, does not represent a manner of evaluation. We can see by the feel of his
Character that he is motivated and has a method, but he never evaluates anything for
himself, you just point him and he goes.
Once again, since Star Wars is an action oriented story, the techniques of Evaluation
were not as developed as Motivation and Method.
As with the previous two levels of Character, the Eight Simple Evaluations can be
divided into sixteen evaluations. In Motivation we had Action and Decision aspects, in
Method we had Attitude and Approach. In Evaluation we have Passive and Active.
Passive: The Calculating Character sees data as Expectations wherein
an unbroken chain of relationships that leads to a conclusion.
Active: To form an Expectation, Calculation develops Theories.
Passive: The Intuitive Character sees the pattern of her observations in the
form of a Determination.
Active: To arrive at a Determination, Intuitive makes Hunches.
Passive: The Character who revolves around Information will entertain in her
deliberations only definitive packets of data she sees as Proven.
Active: For something to be Proven, the Information Character will institute
Passive: Guesswork will consider even data that is, as of yet, Unproven.
Active: The system she uses that allows her to accept Unproven data is to
Passive: The Outcome measuring Character observes the Results of an
Active: To see the Results, she looks toward the Ending of the Effort.
Passive: Measuring Impact, a Character looks at the actual Effects of
an effort, as opposed to how well it met its charter.
Active: To determine the Effect, the Impact Character examines how
the ramifications of the effort confine themselves to the targeted goal.
Passive: Means is determined by looking at the Process employed in an
Active: Just as Impact examined Effects in terms of Accuracy, Means examines
Process in terms of the Unending aspects of its nature. In essence, Effects are
measured by how much they spill over the intended goal, and Process is evaluated by how
much of it continues past the intended point of conclusion.
Passive: When a Character measures Intent, she is concerned with the
behind the effort.
Active: She looks at the aspects of the Cause that do Not Accurately
reflect the scope of the goal.
Let's look at these sixteen evaluation techniques in Quad form.
As before, these four groupings constitute the dynamic Quads of the
Evaluation Set, and are subject to the same DRAMATICA rules as the characteristic and
Since all good things come in Quads, and since we have so far
explored three sets of Character traits, we might expect a final set to round out that
Quad as well. DRAMATICA calls that final set of characteristics, Purposes.
[Lost Theory Book Contents]