Try Dramatica & StoryWeaver Risk
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 unfinished 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.
NOTE: This excerpt provide a completely different look
at two kinds of characters later dropped from the Dramatica theory - "Pivotal"
and "Primary." It errs, however, in seeing only two points of view - the Main
Character (Subjective) and Author (Objective). Later it was discovered that there
are four points of view - Main Character, Obstacle Character, Subjective Story, and
For a more accurate description of these concepts read The Story Mind or hear the material
presented in Real Audio.
In the introduction to this book, we assert that stories work because audiences are
provided TWO views of the Story mind. One is the view OF the Story Mind dealing with the
problem. This is the Objective view, much like a general watching a battle from atop a
hill. From this perspective, characters are external to us. We appreciate them logically,
and may have feelings for them, but they are not us. These are the Objective Characters
that we have just described in Section I.
But stories provide TWO views of the Story Mind, and the other one is the view FROM the
Story Mind. This is more like the perspective of the soldier in the trenches: she actually
LIVES the battle, and perhaps DIES in it. The view FROM the Story Mind is the Subjective
view, as if we actually WERE that mind, and were dealing with the problem ourselves. This
is a much more personal experience, and is represented by much more personal characters:
The Subjective Characters.
Unlike the extended family of their Objective kin, the Subjective Characters number
only two. Remember, the Objective Characters exist to show ALL the ways in which the Story
Mind might go about solving a problem - the Subjective Characters exist to show the ONE
SPECIFIC way that CAN solve the particular story's SPECIFIC problem.
So why TWO Subjective Characters? Why not just ONE? Since all characters represent
problem solving approaches, different approaches conflict. Even when one approach turns
out to be the correct one until that is proven it is still pondered by the Story
Mind as one of many potential solutions. It is weighed and balanced against its
antithesis, like any Dynamic Pair. Only when one of these two elements of the Subjective
Character Dynamic Pair is shown to be the only actual solution is it accepted
This creates a wonderful and complex relationship between the two Subjective
Characters, that brings the problem solving process home, and makes us, the audience, feel
part of the story. The Subjective Character who carries within them the actual solution is
the Main Character: the one we empathize with. The Subjective Character that resists them
is called the Obstacle Character.
Obviously, a question of Resolve must be answered. Sometimes the Main Character
must remain Steadfast in order to achieve her goal. Other times, they must change by
learning what their real strength is. When a Main Character must remain Steadfast, we call
them a Pivotal Character, since they remain "fixed" as a Character, and the
story must revolve or pivot around them. However, for the Main Character that must
learn and change, we call them the Primary Character, since they are central to the
deliberations of the Story Mind.
This whole conflict between Main and Obstacle Characters is based on their natures as
Pivotal and Primary. In essence, the deliberations of any problem solving process
is most effected by the decision to stick with the same approach, or try something
different. In real life, sometimes one works, and sometimes the other. We cannot tell
until we have tried.
Sometimes the message of a story is to explore whether or not it is correct to remain
Steadfast in trying to solve a particular kind of problem. In this case, the Main
Character would be Pivotal, and the resisting Obstacle Character would be Primary.
Now think about this for a moment: the Primary Character in a story does not have to be
the Main Character. But if she is not, she must be the Obstacle Character.
Then, there is the other case: the story that has a message about whether or not it is
correct to change your approach, based on experience gained in the problem solving
process. In this arrangement, the Main Character is the Primary Character and the Obstacle
Character is the Pivotal.
Simply put, in every story, there will be a Main and an Obstacle Character. One of them
will be Primary, and the other one Pivotal. This results in two possible combinations:
Main Character remaining Steadfast, Main Character Changing.
A number of interesting ramifications spin off of this simple concept. Perhaps foremost
is the notion that a Main Character does not have to change. A popular concept of
story insists that a Main Character must change. Yet, one is hard pressed to see
how James Bond grows as a character. The point of the Bond stories is that he must remain
Steadfast. That is to say that he is already using the proper approach, and
therefore there is no need (and actually much to lose) by failing in his resolve.
Nevertheless, there IS one Bond film that accommodates Bond as a Primary Main
Character: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In this picture, Bond changes and determines
to resign as 007 in order to make a new life with his bride. This IS the proper choice
from his Subjective Character's view.
Of course, if James Bond actually left the service, there would be no more in the
series with the successful formula that had been established by all the earlier stories.
So, at the end of the picture, after he has married, Bond's wife is gunned down by the
villains, thereby not only removing his motivation to leave the service, but
actually rekindling his motivation to remain.
This prevents the necessity of setting the next Bond thriller in a Scottish suburb with
the wife, the kids, the boss, and the bills. Certainly, the death of his wife could've
been accommodated at the beginning of the next in the series, driving him back to the
service, but the producers did not want to leave a mamby pamby taste in the mouths of avid
Bondite's, and also the author could make a powerful statement that once in, you cannot
But we said that if a Main Character Changed (was Primary) then the Obstacle Character
would be Pivotal (remain Steadfast). So, who remains steadfast throughout that entire
story? Bond's future bride. She is an unbridled woman who maintains her course and never
caves in, even in marriage.
Okay, so this is the exception to the Pivotal nature of the Bond Characters. But what
about the other Bond stories? If Bond remains steadfast, who changes? Let's look at one:
Goldfinger. In Goldfinger, who is it that changes their course, in this case alters their
allegiances? Pussy Galore. She is the one who is "forced" by Bond's steadfast
nature to change her attitude and fink on Goldfinger to the authorities. Then, consistent
with her new approach, she exchanges the gas canisters on her planes with harmless
What is clear is that there is one Pivotal Character (Bond) and one primary (Pussy),
but since Bond is the Main Character, Pussy provides the Obstacle to his success.
Therefore, when she changes, that obstacle is removed and he can succeed by remaining
These, again, are simple examples, but the principle is true of
So far, we have spoken of Main Character, Obstacle Character, Pivotal Character, and
Primary Character as concepts. If we were able to define the Objective Characters down to
their elements, what can we say about the content of the Subjective Characters?
As we recall, sixty four elements make up all the Objective Characters, each one
getting at least one, and up to 16 of them. Each Subjective Characters gets all sixty
four. If we simply duplicate two additional groups of sixty four elements from the
original Objective group, one would go to the Primary Character and one to the Pivotal.
Then, one of these two groups would be named Main and the other Obstacle.
The Subjective Characters each get a complete group because they have more duties than
the Objective Characters. Rather than representing the functioning of a one part of the
problem solving process, the Subjective Characters represent a view of the entire process
working together. This is the view FROM the Story Mind, that requires a new angle on all
of the Objective Characters and what they do.
We can easily see that the discrepancy between how the audience sees the function of
the Objective Characters and how the Subjective Characters see it is what creates the
dramatic potential that drives the story forward. When Objective "reality" sees
things one way, and the Subjective sees them another, that is truly a definition of a
problem. In fact, this is much like saying that the Universe is arranged in a certain
manner, and the Mind is at odds with it.
It becomes crucial to understanding story and the functioning of the Story Mind to
define how a Mind can fall into a discrepancy with reality so deeply that is requires
either the Universe to change to accommodate the view of the Steadfast Pivotal Character
or requires the Mind to change (Primary Character) in order to accommodate the Universe.
The latent force that supplies the Pivotal Character her resolve and the Primary Character
her adaptability is called Justification.
[Lost Theory Book Contents]
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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