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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Writer Asks

Can you say a few words about how Dramatica deals with Genre?

Melanie Writes

To begin with, Dramatica divides the substance of "Story" into two part: Story Structure, and Story Telling. When you read a story or see it in a theater as a movie, play, or even hear one as a song ballad, you are only seeing the Storytelling. You never see the Structure directly; it is only inferred.

An audience infers Structure through the dynamic arrangement of symbols with which they are bombarded by an author. By sensing the patterns these symbols create, meaning is found behind them. This meaning represents logical arrangements, and emotional pathways. It is these arrangements and pathways that determine the nature of Characters, Plot, Theme, and Genre.

So, each of these four aspects of story - Characters, Plot, Theme, and Genre, has an element of Story Structure and an element of Storytelling. As a result, one cannot fully describe or define any of the four without considering both elements. Still, the balance between the two elements is often not equal. Some Genres will be almost exclusively Structure, while others are almost completely Storytelling. For example, and Action movie is defined mostly by Structure, for it describes something of the nature of what is going on. In contrast, a Western is almost all Storytelling, for it is defined by where the story takes place, not what goes on or what it means.

Looking at other Genres like Situation Comedy, Love Story, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (to name a few) we can sense that the balance between Structure and Storytelling is a bit different in each.

There is one common perspective, however, in which we can evaluate and compare Genres on an even platform. And that is by dividing the Storytelling element into four categories: Information, Entertainment, Comedy, and Drama. The Structure can also be divided into four categories: Universe (situation), Physics (action or activity), Mind (attitude), and Psychology (manner of thinking).

When we place the four Structural categories along one side of a table and the four categories of Storytelling along another, we create a grid in which we can see how they combine to produce the various flavors of Genres. For example, the intersection of Universe (situation) and Comedy gives us the "Situation Comedy", where as the intersection of Physics (action or activity) and Comedy give us the Physical Comedy (of which slapstick and the Three Stooges are examples.)

Now, as you know from other Dramatica theory, each of the four items, Universe, Physics, Mind, and Psychology represents a different "Class" of problem which will occur in a story. After all, Universe is a fixed external state, Physics is an external process, Mind is an internal state, Psychology and internal process. And, clearly, any problem we might identify in a story will be seen as either an internal or external state or process.

Now, to provide perspective on each Class in a story, we couple each one with a different point of view. The four points of view are Main Character, Obstacle Character, Objective Story , and Subjective Story. I won't go into definitions for these here, as it is beyond the scope of our immediate interests. Suffice it to say, that if a Main Character is a Physics character, he or she will remain a physics character throughout the story.

Keeping that in mind, we can look back to the Genre Table and see that if a Main Character is in Physics, he or she still has a run of the Genre Table from Information through Drama, down the entire row. Now, we get into the explanation about mixing it up.

The easiest way to assign positions on the Genre Table is simple to make sure that Main Character, Obstacle, Objective Story, and Subjective Story each fall in their own Class. Then, position them all in the same row so that they all fall into Comedy, or all fall into Drama. In this way, your story will have good breadth (because all four Classes are represented) but will have very little depth, because it is all Comedy, or all Drama.

The first way to mix it up, is to move the Structural aspects of Main Character, Obstacle, etc., each into a different row, so that your Main Character is Comedic, but your Objective Story is Dramatic (Like many Marx Brothers movies). In this way, you increase your depth, and can create a number of interesting combinations, such as having Both Main and Obstacle Comedic, but the Objective Story Entertaining, and the Subjective Story Dramatic.

So far, we have loosened things up a bit, but still not enough. The next step is to realize that the four Structural aspects don't have to stay in the same Storytelling category (row) for the entire story. For example, a Main Character might begin in Entertainment, but end up in Drama by the end of the story. In fact, any of the four aspects might "move" through the table any number of times over the course of the story, touching on some or all of the rows.

The key is that no aspect can move to another row without passing through the ones in between. Referring to the grid (on page 152 of the 3rd edition of the theory book, and also available online) a Main Character might start at Entertainment and end up in Drama, but not unless he or she has passed through Comedy first.

In fact, the character could also arrive at Drama, by passing through Information instead, even though this would take them off the bottom of the Table and back up to the top (as published in the book). The reason is, that the Table is really more like a cylinder - the cardboard tube in a roll of paper towels. The Table really wraps around, connecting the top to the bottom; Information to Entertainment.

This represents the flow of human emotions. We can all get to any emotion, but just as with the Seven Stages of Grief, or Freud's Psycho-Sexual Stages, you can't skip the in-between. If you do this, the audience will not be able to follow the story emotionally, and you will lose them - pull them out of the experience. They will suddenly become aware they are an audience to a story, and will examine what happens dispassionately.

This was the mistake made by the Bruce Willis movie, "Hudson Hawk". They wanted to mix it up (comedy, thriller, action movie, musical!) but rather than wrapping around the Table, they jumped over in-between and lost the audience. If you haven't seen it, rent the video just to see what I mean.

Still, (and finally), there is one way to violate this rule to your advantage. If you skip a step, your audience will look to see if it is just a fork in the road. If it is, then you will effectively be telling your audience to "be of two minds" about what is happening. In other words, you are telling them to have mixed emotions about what they see.

The way to make this work, is to make one and ONLY one skip-over, then start TWO lines of emotional presentation for the same throughline. For example, you might have the Objective Story be Informational, then jump to Comedy, but also continue the Informational line. The audience is now split in their emotional assessment of the Objective Story, and will experience mixed emotions until you bring both lines back to the same row, perhaps Drama, or any one you choose. When the flow of each of the split lines converges back to the same Storytelling aspect, the audience will wait one more scene to see if they are just crossing paths or really combining.

To cross paths, each would next jump to different places, to combine, on the next move, they would move to the same place again.

When you consider the four aspects of Structure, the four aspects of Storytelling, the ability to place different Classes in different Storytelling aspects (Comedy, Drama, etc.), the ability to move around the Table with each Class independently, and the ability to split and recombine any or all of the Classes pathways, you end up with a highly complex, highly flexible, yet absolutely predictable method of creating the "Genre feel" of a story, all from one simple little 4x4 table.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Please feel free to ask others or request additional clarification on this one.

Best of luck in your writing endeavors,

Melanie


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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.

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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

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.

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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

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!

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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.

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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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