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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

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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

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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 Dramatica User Writes...

Can anybody explain the usage of the "element" level of Dramatica especially as it refers to theme and character? I'm about to pull my hair out.

Chris Huntley Replies...

I may not be the best person to describe this to you (since I am partially responsible for your confusion), but let me try.  Who knows -- maybe I'll phrase something in a new and "digestible" fashion.

There are 256 elements that comprise the Dramatica "element level" of the Dramatica thematic structure.  These are best seen as four "chess sets" of 64 elements, one chess set per Class (or Domain).  There are only 64 unique names that describe the 256 elements; each name appears four times--once per chess set.  The difference between the chess sets is the arrangement of the elements. Though a dynamic pair (elements in a diagonal relationship within a quad) are never separated, they will be paired with different dynamic pairs in each chess set.

CHARACTERS AND ELEMENTS

Within each chess set of 64 elements, there are four "sets" of 16 elements. These sets are best described as the "Motivations," "Methodologies," "Standards of Evaluation," and "Purposes" as they relate to Character.  Collectively, these are the character "functions."  (NOTE:  Dramatica uses and reuses ALL structural items in different contexts for different purposes.  These labels, e.g. motivations, etc., are only appropriate within the context of examining elements in terms of characters.)

There are two primary areas to be discussed about elements with regards to characters: 

    1) Objective Character Elements

    2) Subjective Character Elements

OBJECTIVE CHARACTER ELEMENTS: 

Objective characters are created from (and defined by) the elements found within the Objective Story Domain (one of the four chess sets that has been chosen as part of the "arena" or context within which the Objective Story is explored).  So, right there we have narrowed the 256 elements to just 64.  The elements in the Objective Story domain (in the context of Character) represent different attitudes and approaches to problem solving (e.g. proaction, test, deduction, desire, etc.).  These attitudes and approaches serve to illustrate how to or how NOT to resolve an inequity.  As such, they represent a "function" within the problem solving process.  Each of these functions must be represented in a fully argued story, a Grand Argument Story.  Anything that acts as a representative for one or more of these functions is called an Objective Character.

Though these objective characters can remain abstractions (e.g. the faithful supporter, and the proactive tester), most authors prefer to embody them in a person, place, or thing -- a "player."  When you attach or assign an element (or objective character) to a player, you  are creating a person, place, or thing that represents that element and whose primary purpose as an objective character is to exemplify the element's functionality in the Objective Story. Most objective characters in modern, Western stories are made up of several to many character elements and therefore have a lot of functionality needed to be displayed.

There are MANY ways to illustrate an objective character's function(s).  The most direct method is to have that objective character DO whatever he or she represents.  If he represents Chaos, then he likes to stir things up.  If he represents Deduction, then he narrows down the possibilities like Sherlock Holmes.  If he represents Effect, then he might be the poster child for the Love Canal or Three Mile Island (that paints a pretty picture, doesn't it?). However, the objective character need not contain that attribute; it can be attributed to him.  If he represents Faith, he might be a priest (we need never know whether or not he HAS faith, only that he represents faith).  If he represents Desire, everybody might want his body or fall in love with his face. If he represents Inaction, people might call him lazy and shiftless (even though he might be working on some secret project at night without their awareness).  I hope you get the picture.

The bottom line is this -- every element within the Objective Story domain (all 64 of them) represent a function of the complete problem solving process.  When a player embodies one or more of these functions, we refer to them in the Objective Story throughline as an Objective Character.  Players that do not represent any of the character elements in the Objective Story throughline are window dressing.  (NOTE:  Window dressing characters aren't bad, it is just important to know that they can be changed or removed on a whim without affecting the cohesiveness and completeness of your Grand Argument Story.  The same is not true of the objective characters.  If you remove one, another one must take its place in order to continue illustrating the element(s)'s functionality.)

SUBJECTIVE CHARACTERS AND ELEMENTS

Subjective characters, the Main Character and the Obstacle Character, differ in their relationship to elements by comparison to the Objective Characters.  The Main and Obstacle characters each have his or her own complete domain.  That means each has its own chess set of elements (64 elements each).  In a FULLY argued story, the Main Character and the Obstacle Character will each explore ALL of their elements in an effort to resolve their respective inequities (problems).  This is one of the reasons why Main and Obstacle characters appear to be more well rounded, more complete than the objective characters.  Within the domain of each of the Subjective Characters, we will find one element that is the source of his or her drive (the problem element), the cure for that drive (the solution element), the primary symptom of the drive (the focus element), and the treatment or response to the symptom (the direction element).

It is important to note that the Player that embodies a Subjective Character will also embody an Objective Character.  For example, there are many stories whose Main Character is also an archetypal objective character (Pursue, Consider, etc.) known as a protagonist.  Obstacle characters are frequently combined with objective character elements like Conscience, Help, Support, or Hinder.

THEME AND THE ELEMENT LEVEL

The meaning of any individual element name is thematic in nature.  Faith, Chaos, Trust, Reaction, etc. suggest thematic content. 

However, and this is a big HOWEVER, the context within which to view elements as thematic is to see them as part of the entire (thematic) Dramatica structure, contrasted by the Character Dynamics and the Plot Dynamics.  If your context exclusively concerns the Dramatica structure, then the Variations are much more thematic in nature (and closer to a more traditional understanding of "theme") than the elements, types, or classes.

I hope this saves you some hair.

Best regards, Chris Huntley Screenplay Systems


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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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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.

Dramatica Pro 4.0<br>Plus FREE Bonus!

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!

Power Writer

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.

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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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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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