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A Writer Asks...
I have a handle on most Dramatica terms but I'm having troubles conceptualizing
Objective Character. Is Objective Character the same as Obstacle character?
No, they are quite different.
1. Objective Characters have structural roles and are identified by their functions.
2. The Obstacle character is a SUBJECTIVE character, which are identified by their
points of view.
Here's a bit more background on how it all fits together...
A central concept of the Dramatica theory is that every complete story represents a
model of a single human mind trying to deal with an inequity.
This occurs because in order to communicate an author must make a copy of what they
have in mind and show it to the audience. This model of the author's perspective on his or
her subject is called the Story Mind.
The audience examines this Story Mind from four different points of view. They are the
Objective view (where we find the Objective Characters), The Main Character view (which is
the subjective character who represents the audience position in the story), the Obstacle
Character view (which is the subjective character who is trying to change the Main
Character's point of view on the issues), and the Subjective view (which describes the
growth of the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters).
The first view we will examine is from the outside looking in. This is the Objective
View. From here, the audience sees characters like soldiers on a fiel viewed by a general
on a hill overlooking the dramatica battle. There are foot soldiers, grenadiers, etc., all
identified by their functions in the battle. In stories, we see these as the Protagonist,
Antagonist, Sidekick, etc.
The second point of view with which an audience becomes involved with a story is for
them to step into the story as if the audience were one of the players. When the audience
leaves the general's hill and zooms down to stand in the shoes of one of the soldiers on
the field, that soldier becomes the Main Character. The Main Character is simply the name
of the player who represents the audience's position in the story.
Because Main Character is a point of view, it can be attached to any of the Objective
Characters. So, in one story, the Main Character might be the Protagonist, creating the
typical "hero". In another story, however, the Main Character might be the
Sidekick, so that the audience observes what the Protagonist is doing without feeling like
they are driving the story forward themselves. This is how things are set up in "To
Kill A Mockingbird", in which Atticus (the Gregory Peck part in the movie) is the
Protagonist (driving the action forward) while his young daughter Scout provides the
audience position in the story (which is told through her child's eyes) making her the
Now, as the Main Character makes his or her way through the dramatic battle, he or she
encounters another "soldier" blocking the path. The other soldier says,
"change course!" But is it a friend trying to prevent the Main Character from
walking into a mine field or an enemy trying to lure the Main Character into an ambush.
This other solder is the Obstacle Character.
The Obstacle Character represents the alternative paradigm to the Main Character's
existing opinions about the central issue of the story. It is their dramatic purpose in
the story to force the Main Character to reconsider changing his or her long-held views.
This provides the other side of the story's argument, making it a full exploration of the
topic, not just a one-sided statement.
Sometimes the Obstacle Character is right, and sometimes wrong. And sometimes the Main
Character chooses the good path and sometimes the bad one. Also, the Obstacle Character
may not even know they have such an influence on the Main Character as to make him or her
consider changing attitudes or approaches. The Obstacle Character can be a role model,
even one on TV or from the past, whose presence or recorded works argue the alternative
paradigm and influence the Main Character.
The fourth perspective is the Subjective view. This is simply a tale of the growth of
the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters, as the Main Character is
progressively influenced to change even while seeking to hold on to the tried and true. It
is this view that gives a story its passionate flavor for an audience, as they watch the
two "boxers" circling each other in the "ring".
When all four points of view are provided, all the principal ways of looking at a
story's issues are built into the Story Mind. The Main Character is the "I"
perspective for the audience - first person singular. Obstacle Character is
"you" (for we never see things from the Obstacle's point of view, but rather
look AT the Obstacle from the Main Character's point of view). The Subjective view is
"we" as it describes the relationship between Main and Obstacle. The Objective
view provides the "they" perspective, as the audience watches the Objective
Characters from the outside looking in.
So, one must develop a complete set of Objective Characters. Then, one of those
characters needs to be selected as the audience position in the story (which will affect
the whole feel of how the battle unfolds). This will become the Main Character. Next,
another Objective Character must be selected as the Obstacle Character. Which one will
determine the complex nature of the relationship between Main and Obstacle, as part of
their interchange will occur between their Objective Character aspects in the Objective
story, and part will occur between the Subjective Character points of view int eh
Keep in mind that looking at a character as a doctor, mother, bum, or husband does NOT
say anyting about whether they are a Protagonist, Antagonist or any other Objective
Character. Objective Characters determine who is for something, who is against it, who
acts primarily according to Reason and who with Emotion, and so on. The Mother may be the
Protagonist, the Reason character, or even the Sidekick. And choosing her as the Main or
Obstacle would add another level of complexity.
So, it is important for consistency and completeness of the argument made through the
Story Mind to assign all the Objective Characters a role in your story and to make one a
Main Character and one an Obstacle Character. But, the "feel" of your story
won't truly develop until you assign the social roles these characters fulfill in your
story world as well.
Often an author will wish to start with a Mother character or some other social role.
Only then does the process begin of determining who is Main and Obstacle, and then
determining what Objective Characters each represents.
How you approach the creation of the full complement of Characters and their roles is
up to you. That is must be done is a result of the necessity of creating a Story Mind for
the audience to both inspect and possess as the conduit of communication between author
*Try either or both for 90 days. Not working for you?
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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