Category Archives: Narrative in the Real World

Narrative in the Real World – The North Korean Summit

Trump and Kim Jong Un. Let’s consider the narrative behind the summit. In a movie, it is easy to see when a character does not ring true – when he or she acts in a way contrary to human psychology – in a way that is in conflict with the known facts of the narrative.

Either the character is not properly created by the author or there is more to the narrative than we are currently been shown.

Short version – Trump’s (and Kim’s) behavior regarding the summit is in conflict with their characters. In the real world, characters are not poorly drawn – they are who they are. And discrepancies are indicators that there is more to the narrative that we are seeing.

When I was working as a consultant on narrative structure for the CIA and the NSA, we created a few “What if” scenarios regarding Kim Jong Un, the United States, China, South Korea, and other players in that theater.

Suffice it to say that not only are the international politics among the nations extremely complicated, but the internal politics within the DPRK are far more complicated including powerful regional warlords who are courted directly by China, a class of merchants who support Kim as long as their coffers are filled, a central military structure whose allegiance is capricious, and the equivalent of the Russian oligarchs who control significant wealth and live in luxury while the people (who are successfully indoctrinated into a cult of personality toward Kim) live largely in poverty.

Against this background, and following Trump’s tweet war with Kim over the last year, i.e. “Little Rocket Man” vs. “We will destroy you,” these two leaders came together in a friendly, mutually supportive summit and, according to Trump, agreed to complete denuclearization of North Korea and an end of sanctions, full diplomatic recognition, an end to joint war games, and even a removal of troops by the United States.

By meeting with Kim, one on one as equals, Trump has already given equal status to Kim as the legitimate leader of the DPRK.

Add to this that Trump, positioning himself as peacemaker, has been antagonistic to our allies, and excessively supportive and effusive in his praise and/or unwilling to speak out against strong men and dictators such as Putin, Assad and Xi Jinping.

Now further consider that Trump always acts in his own best interest and has never been known to embrace service to others, altruism, or a keen desire for world peace. Further, while in office so far, he and his family have profited greatly from political decisions made, and allegations such as pay for play with Qatar abound.

If he were a fictional character, Trump might be described as narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, power-hungry, greedy, unbeholding to any code or ethos, crude, rude, bullying, opportunistic, mercurial, capricious, and sly. If one adds the trait, ruthless, these traits describe Kim Jong Un as well.

Those qualities do not support Trump’s nor Kim’s apparent actions in the narrative we are being presented. They do not ring true. So we must ask ourselves, what is the real narrative that we are not seeing – a narrative that is actually consistent with the nature of the characters, Kim and Trump.

While multiple narratives may explain his actions (and in fact, multiple narrative may actually be in play simultaneously, each with its own goals), the one certainty we have is that the presented narrative is not the actual narrative.

Here is an alternative narrative in which both the characters, Kim and Trump, do ring true – a narrative in which their actions make sense based on their actual natures.

In this proposed narrative, we do have several known facts:

1. Kim’s nuclear capability is the only saber he has to rattle.

2. Kim has used disarmament before as a bargaining chip, only to go back on his word when he received what he was after.

3. Kim is the head of a cult of personality not unlike that of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and will never give that up.

4. Kim is not concerned with the well-being of his people.

5. Kim will even kill relatives and hundreds more in political purges in order to maintain power.

6. Kim’s position is atop an unstable coalition of economic and military leaders, all of whom are playing at their own narratives of amassing additional wealth and power. He keeps them in check through fear and by showing is remains powerful against the United States. In our work for the intelligence community, we determined Kim increases his power when he rattles his saber, and he increases the wealth of his supporters when he makes temporary concessions. By alternating between making and then breaking agreements and between war talk and peace talk, Kim satisfies his base and secures his position.

On the Trump side:

1. Republicans are in danger of losing control of at least one house of congress in the upcoming November elections, which would inhibit Trump in his power and money gathering efforts. A diplomatic win might keep both houses in Republican hands.

2. If the Republicans lose complete control, the Russian investigation becomes far more dangerous to Trump.

3. Trump has made a concerted effort to undo everything Barack Obama achieved and/or to better him. Obama struck the Iran deal, Trump wants to end it. Obama did not reach an agreement with North Korea, Trump wants to accomplish that.

4. Trump began running for reelection with an official committee and campaign rallies almost immediately after taking the oath of office. An apparent diplomatic win might very well tip the balance in 2020 to ensure his reelection.

5. A summit with Kim garners the world’s spotlight and baths both leaders in praise and adoration of their followers. In his post-summit news conference, Trump clearly bathed in the glory of the moment. Further, Obama received a Nobel (before he had accomplished anything, used by the Nobel committee as a political tool to “obligate” Obama to follow through) so Trump wants one too.

6. If Trump’s goal is to create a cult of personality and eventually have presidential term limits rescinded, as Putin did, so he might be endlessly reelected, the summit, even if the deal later falls through, the aura of being a peacemaker will remain and add to the passion of Trump’s followers.

Taken collectively, the natures of the characters of Trump and Kim suggest another narrative that is actually consistent with their personalities.

Kim gets recognition as an equal and legitimate player on the world stage, but does not have to live up to the agreement. His benefits cannot be called back, even if he does not follow through. And so his stature and security increases with his dangerous base, and when he pulls out of the agreement, he will regain the favor of his own hard-liners as well.

Trump gets world acclaim, strengthens his base, maintains control of congress and adds to his bid for reelection, allowing him to keep making money for political favors and to pave the way, ultimately, to becoming president for life, regardless of whether the agreement falls through or not.

Further, ending joint war games with South Korea (without having previously discussed this with them) helps pull America back from a position of power in the world, serving both China and Putin with whom Trump already has some very suspicious economic obligatory relationships.

It this the actual narrative? Perhaps not. But unlike the publicly offered narrative of seeking peace through altruism, this narrative at least is not in conflict with the natures of the character involved.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Co-creator, Dramatica

Narrative and Politics: Pardon Me, Mr. Trump

Rather than getting caught up in whether or not Trump has the power to pardon even himself, step back and see the larger narrative.

In the past controversial pardons would sometimes inflame the public, and when newly minted President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon as his first official act, the tide of controversy rose quite high. Still and all, under normal circumstances no one cares much about the President’s pardon power other than those being pardoned.

So stepping back, look at how much information is pouring out the the Trump administration this week about pardoning power, both in his tweets and through his spokespeople and surrogates.

As a narrative scientist, I ask myself why would an administration go into a full-bore public service campaign to inform the public about a presidential power of such little historic significance?

Of course, the answer is that Trump is guilty and he is trying to send a message to all those who can prove his guilt by testifying against him in exchange for a plea deal.

Why would Trump and company spend all this time talking about pardons otherwise? Why not talk about dog shelters or the honey bees or new uniforms for the military, much less truly important issues that are of real and imperative concern?

In short – pardon power is an obscure, uninspiring, and generally unimportant presidential power in the grand scheme of things. And of all the obscure, uninspiring, and generally unimportant powers to pick to speak about, why THIS one, and more to the point, why NOW?

Look at the pardon last week of man who laundered campaign funds and was investigated, tried, and convicted by the same federal folks in New York who are currently after Michael Cohen.

This man never asked for a pardon – not once. He was surprised as anybody when he heard about it. He pleaded guilty. Trump made the pardon pro-actively because this fellow just happened to come to his attention and, ostensibly, in reviewing his case (with his copious free time), Trump determined that this man had been singled out for prosecution unfairly and based on a political agenda.

Does that ring true to you? If you saw that as the plot of a movie or a television show would you buy it? Of course not! It makes no sense as a narrative, and therefore it makes no sense in the real world either.

Clearly, the Trump team went out looking for someone to pardon – anyone who was prosecuted by the same branch who was also Republican and also pleaded guilty. If they found such a fellow, they could pardon him and send a big message to Michael Cohen to keep his mouth shut because Trump has him covered.

Now THAT narrative makes complete and total sense. It rings true. You’d buy that in a movie or on TV in a heartbeat.

Narratives are like Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is (most often) the correct one. Unlike physics, narratives are driven by the nature of human beings. So if a narrative comes across as false, it is because we know that the motivations suggested do not match how real people act and react – how they are driven and in what directions.

Suddenly taking a great interest in pardon power just because, while simultaneously pardoning someone arbitrarily who didn’t even request a pardon simply isn’t a believable narrative.

But hyping up pardon power to prevent folks from testifying and then making an example pardon of a hand-picked obscure felon who was convicted by the same mechanism in the same place as the key potential witness against Trump – well that is as believable a narrative as you can get.

Melanie Anne Phillips

Narrative in the Real World: Anticipatory Targeting of Data Gathering Resources (Part 1)

From Melanie Anne Phillips, Owner of

Here’s the beginning of an article I wrote back a few years ago when I was a consultant for the CIA and the NSA on narrative psychology and its application for counter-terrorism. I eventually finished the article, but am cleaning out my hard drive and this initial draft is the first thing I found and figured it was still worth publishing as an insight into the process:

Anticipatory Targeting of Data Gathering Resources

By Melanie Anne Phillips, Co-creator, Dramatica Theory

The Problem

The ability to assess a current situation and accurately predict its course is perhaps the paramount requirement for the security of an individual or a nation. To that end, we have developed ever more sophisticated systems for gathering and analyzing information to both understand the dangers of the present and to be prepared for emerging dangers in the future.

Current systems are largely based on a marriage of statistical databases and a variety of algorithms ranging from influence networks to hub theory to fluid dynamics and even models of the progression of infectious diseases. Increasingly, advancements in artificial intelligence have provided additional capability through the application of machine learning, group mind theory, and hierarchies of intelligent agents.

Despite these enhancements, our technology is rapidly approaching a limit as to how much more accurate and predictive it can become, regardless of further developments based on the same fundamental approaches. As a result, though our capacity to gather data has increased explosively, our ability to understand predictive patterns and employ them in a feedback loop to redirect our data gathering resources has lagged behind.

The problem behind this limitation is that there remains a missing piece in our analytic capacity: the ability to definitively model and predict the human element in terms of motivations and responses. While we can create algorithms to describe patterns of human movement and can assess individuals and organizations through psychological profiling, these approaches are largely built upon probability based on historic observation.
What is lacking is a unifying paradigm of human behavior based not on statistics, but on the underlying dynamics and interaction of mental processes, both cognitive and affective – essentially, a model of the mind itself.

Historically, attempts to model the mind have proven insufficient, but recently a much more functional system, which has been employed successfully in the field of narrative science for nearly twenty years, has emerged as a viable solution to the problem.
What follows is a description of this system and how it might be incorporated into to the existing framework of our data gathering resources.

The Solution

The Method

The Basis

The concepts in this article owe their roots to our Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure.  You can read our entire book explaining the theory here in PDF or on Amazon, and you may wish to demo our Dramatica narrative construction and analysis software based on our model of narrative psychology for use in fiction and the real world.

I’ll publish the complete article, if and when I find it as I plow through the archives…

Narrative in the Real World

Why do I post all these articles and videos on Story Structure?

Well, aside from it being my career for the past quarter of a century, narrative theory has shown me that people think in narratives, but we also manufacture narratives in the real world from too little information and hold them to be true.

We search for meaning, create a narrative to connect the dots, but they we assume we have the meaning, not realizing there may be other narratives that would equally explain those few points we actually observed.

In our relationships, in our politics, in our own hearts and minds we build narratives that in time become resistant to change. Eventually, even if a better narrative comes along that explains more and puts things in a more accurate context, we reject it out of hand because our trusted narrative is held as true.

And so we are convinced our enemy means us harm, that our internal angsts cannot be resolved, that our associates are insensitive or up to no good.

But the real harm occurs when we act on these convictions and feel justified in getting back at others or, at worst, at taking first strikes against them because we “know” the ill will they hold against us.

This I have learned from my twenty-five year study of narrative, and specifically from my work with my partner in creating the Dramatica theory of narrative structure.

Dramatica theory is a model of how the mind constructs narratives and becomes mired in misconceptions. But is also an instruction manual for discovering inaccuracies in our views and in adjusting our narratives continually to account for new information and new understandings.

Dramatica holds the key to resolving differences with others, to becoming closer to our loved ones, and to finding peace within ourselves.

Up to now, I have focused my work on explaining narrative in fiction, for that is where Dramatica was first discovered and refined. In posting these articles and videos it had been my hope that the application of these insights would be perceived by my audience and applied to their own lives.

Alas, very few have made that connection and, after a quarter of a century of sharing what I’ve learned, there is no general awareness of the power of Dramatica to effect change in oneself and one’s interactions.

And so, having described the use of narrative in fiction with as much depth and breadth as is reasonably possible, I have determined this day to take the plunge and shift my focus to an exploration of narrative in the real world.

Though this new area of inquiry draws on all of my experience, it is essentially a whole new career for me as it applies this knowledge in a completely different realm.

Posting real world narrative articles and videos is not appropriate to all my many channels, pages, blogs, and web sites that deal with the construction and development of novels and screenplays. So, you won’t see this new work everywhere I distribute.

What you will see is the occasional link to evolving material as I build whole new sites and avenues of distribution.

For many years, I have felt that this is my true calling, and all my work in fiction was simply preparation for the journey to share the means to make a better life, not only for ourselves, but for all with whom we relate.

Perhaps it is grandiose and overly optimistic, but it is my belief that the more we grasp the reasoning behind our own narratives and those of others as well, the less judgmental we will become in our conflicts, the more tolerant we will become of differing viewpoints, and greater will be our understanding of ourselves as individuals and as members of the human tribe.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Co-creator Dramatica

Applying Dramatica to Real World Narratives

Analyzing and Predicting the
Activities of Groups & Organizations

By Melanie Anne Phillips

Based on theories developed by
Melanie Anne Phillips & Chris Huntley

Introduction to Dramatica Theory and Applications

The Dramatica Theory of Story is a model of the mind’s problem solving processes which has been successfully employed for seventeen years in the analysis and construction of fictional stories ranging from major Hollywood productions to novels, stage plays, and television programs.

Software based on the Dramatica Theory is built around an interactive Story Engine which implements the problem-solving model as a method of determining the meaning and impact of data sets and of predicting motivations and actions based on potentials inherent in the data.

This is achieved by creating a Storyform – essentially, a schematic of the problem solving processes at work, their interactions, their outcomes, and the future course they will take.

The Dramatica system and its problem-solving algorithms can be applied with equal success to the analysis of real-world situations as well, specifically in determining the motivations behind the actions of a target group and in the prediction of their future actions and potentials for action.

Scalability and the Story Mind

To illustrate this methodology let us consider a generic target group. This might be a clique, club, movement, political faction, tribe, or nation. This highlights an important benefit of the system: Dramatica is scalable. It works equally well on individuals or groups of any size.

This kind of scalability is described by a Dramatica concept referred to as the Story Mind. In fiction, characters are not only individuals but also interact in stories as if they are aspects of a larger, overall mind set belonging to the structure of the story itself.

If, for example, one character may emerge in group actions and discussions as the voice of reason while another character, driven primarily by passion, becomes defined as the heart of the group.

Stories reflect the way people react and behave in the real world, and when individuals band together as a larger unit, they fall into roles where the unit itself takes on an identity with its own personality and its own psychology, almost as if it were an individual itself, in essence, a Story Mind.

Fractal Storyforms in the Real World

Similarly, if several groups become bound, as when factions join as members of a larger movement, the movement begins to take on an identity and the factions fall into roles representing aspects of individual problem solving processes.

Dramatica can move up and down the scale of magnitude from the individual to the national and even international level, while retaining an equally effective ability to analyze and predict based on its underlying model. This phenomenon is referred to the Fractal Storyform.

In actual practice, many groups of interest are ill defined, have blurry edges and indistinct leadership. Still, the core motivations of the target group can be determined, and from this the edges of the group can be refined sufficiently to create a storyform of the appropriate magnitude to suit the task at hand.

Memes and Story Points

Dramatica makes a key distinction between the underlying structure of a story and the subject matter that is explored by that structure. For example, every story has a goal but the specific nature of the goal is different from story to story. Elements such as a goal which are common to every story and, hence, every problem solving process, are referred to as Story Points.

Similarly a culture, ethnic group, religion, political movement, or faction will employ the same underlying story points but will clothe them in unique subject matter in order to define the organization as being distinct and to provide a sense of identity to its members.

Once a story point has been generally accepted in a specific subject matter form it becomes a cultural meme. Efforts to analyze and predict a culture based on memes alone have largely been unsuccessful.

Dramatica’s system of analysis is able to strip away the subject matter from cultural memes to reveal the underlying story points and thereby determine the specific storyform that describes that group’s story mind.

Essentially, Dramatica is able to distill critical story points from raw data and assemble them into a map of the target group’s motivations and intentions.

Passive Participation and Active Participation

One of Dramatica’s greatest strengths is that it works equally well in constructing stories as in analyzing them. We refer to analysis as Passive Participation and construction as Active Participation.

When dealing with a target group of interest, these two approaches translate into the ability to passively understand the target group and anticipate its behavior, and also to actively create courses of action by which to intervene in and/or influence the group’s future activities and attitudes.

To understand, we determine motivations and purposes.

To anticipate, we project actions and intent.

To intervene, we define leverage points for targeted action.

To influence, we determine nexus points for focused pressure.


The passive approach is comprised of Analysis and Prediction. Analysis is achieved by first identifying independent story points and then determining which ones belong together in a single storyform.

Identifying Story Points 

In addition to cultural memes, story points can also be derived from the target group’s public and private communications, in news publications and vehicles of propaganda, in works of art (both authorized and spontaneous), in popular music and entertainment, in the allocation of resources, and in the movements and gatherings of individuals. In short, any data can directly or indirectly provide valid story points.

Identifying a Storyform

Once a collection of story points has been assembled, it must be determined which ones belong together in the same storyform. Each storyform represents a different state of mind, but there may be many states of mind in a single target group. These are not different mind sets of individuals, but different mind sets of the group itself:. And just as stories often have subplots or multiple stories in the same novel, target groups may have a number of different agendas, each with its own personality traits and outlook.

This can be illustrated with an example from everyday life: a single individual may respond as a banker at his job, a father and husband at home, a teammate in a league and a son when he visits his own parents. Similarly, a target group may have one storyform that best describes its relationship to its allies and another that describes its relationship to its enemies.

It is crucial to determine which storyform is to be analyzed so that an appropriate subset can be selected from all derived story points.

Results from Limited Data

The Story Engine at the heart of the Dramatica software cross-references the impact and influence of different kinds of story points as they interact with one another, both  for individual story pointsand for groups of story points.

Once the scope of the storyform is outlined, the software can actually determine additional story points within that closed system that had not been directly observed as part of the original data set. This creates a more detailed and complete picture of the situation under study than is evident from the limited data.

Spatial Data vs. Temporal Data

Unique to Dramatica’s software, the Story Engine is able to determine the kinds of events that must transpire and the order in which they will likely occur, based on the static picture of the situation provided by the complete storyform.

In stories, the order in which events occur determines their meaning. For example, a slap followed by a scream would have a different meaning that a scream followed by a slap. Similarly, if one understands the potentials at work in a storyform derived from story points pertaining to the target group, the Story Engine is capable of predicting what kinds of events will likely follow and in what order they will likely occur.

Conversely, if the originally observed data set includes sequential information, such as a timeline of a person’s travels or of the evolution of a sponsored program, the Story Engine can convert that temporal data into a fixed storyform that will indicate the motivations and purposes of the group that led them to engage in that sequence of events.


The Dramatica theory and Story Engine (when properly used by experts) is able to translate the spatial layout of a situation into a temporal prediction of how things will unfold from that point forward.

Signposts and Journeys

The Dramatica storyform breaks events into Signposts and Journeys. These concepts are similar to the way one might look at a road and consider both the milestones and the progress being made along the path.

In stories, this data is described by Acts, Sequences, and Scenes, concepts which represent different magnitudes of time. Acts are the largest segments of a story, sequences one magnitude smaller, and scenes are even smaller dramatic movements.

Wheels within Wheels

It is commonplace to think of story events as simply being driven by cause and effect. A more accurate model may be roughly visualized as wheels within wheels, where a character sometimes may act in ways against its own best interest. For example, larger forces may have been brought to bear and might carry greater weight.

The outside pressures that are brought to bear on the target group build up these potentials as if one were winding a clock. In stories, this creates potentials that make each wheel (such as an act of a scene) operate as if it were a dramatic circuit.

Each story point within a given dramatic circuit is assigned a function as a Potential, Resistance, Current, or Power. Determining which of these functions is associated with each story point is essential to accurately predicting the nature and order of a target group’s future activities based on an understanding of the different magnitudes of motivation at work.

Closed Systems and Chaos

Storyforms are closed systems. They are snapshots of a moment in time in the mindset of a target group. But just as an individual or a character in a story is constantly influenced by outside events, new information, and the impact of others, so too is the target group. To the ordered world of a storyform, such outside influence is seen as chaotic interference.

The accuracy of a storyform analysis and its predictions has a short shelf life. The more volatile the environment in which the target group operates, the more quickly the accuracy of the storyform degrades.

Fortunately, storyforms can quickly incorporate new data to be updated in real time to give a constantly refreshed accuracy to the analysis.

In addition, just because a target group’s motivations and agenda is continually being altered by outside events does not mean the effects upon it are completely chaotic.

Some influences, such as an earthquake, an unexpected death, or a surprise attack are truly chaotic, while other influences only appear to be chaotic because they are not part of the closed storyform. Rather, they are part of a larger story.

Applying the concept of the fractal storyform, it is possible to create additional storyforms of both larger and smaller magnitudes to surround the target group so that it is seen not only by itself, but also as a player in a larger story or in terms of individual players within it. In this manner many events which previously appeared chaotic can be predicted and the accuracy of the target group storyform is enhanced.

Movie Frames

Another method for minimizing inaccuracy in prediction is to create a series of storyforms for the target group over a given period. These are then assembled in sequence, like frames in a movie, to determine the arc of change over time.

Truly chaotic events will largely cancel out, but ongoing influence from larger and smaller storyforms with their own individual agendas will create a predictable curve to the manner in which the target group’s storyform is changing, thereby allowing us to anticipate not only what the target group might do on its own, but what it is likely to do as the situation in which it operates continues to evolve.

Direct Intervention

In contrast to Passive methods, with Active methods we consider altering the actions and attitudes of a target group by either direct intervention or indirect influence.

Identifying a Problem

Once a storyform has been created and analysis and prediction have been employed, an assessment must be made to determine if the target group is currently of a mindset contrary to our interests and/or if it will be in the future.

Before a response can be developed, the specific nature of the problem must be fully defined. Again, the storyform and its component story points offer an accurate mechanism for determining the specific nature of the problem: the story point or story point arrangements that are in conflict with our interests.

Identifying a Solution

Some solutions simply require the alteration of a single story point to a different orientation within the storyform (corresponding to a slight shift in attitude, motivation, or actions by the target group). Often, once the specific nature of the problem is understood, a direct surgical impact on that story point may alter the direction of the story. Modifications to the storyform must be approached with caution, because a single small ill-advised move can sometimes do far more damage than the original problem. More complex problems may require replacing the current storyform with a completely different one.

“What If” Scenarios

Fortunately, Dramatica’s Story Engine allows for altering one or more story points to see the nature of the new storyform that will be created as a result. A large number of alternatives exist by simply altering a few story points, resulting in the ability to game out “what if” scenarios in real time to determine a wide variety of alternatives that would accomplish the same end.

Risk Analysis

By comparing the effectiveness, ramifications, and projected timelines of each alternative storyform solution, it is possible to create an effective risk analysis of each available option to ensure maximum impact with minimum risk.

These alternative storyforms can indicate the kinds of risks involved in each potential response to the problem, as well as the magnitude and likelihood of each risk.

Indirect Influence

Direct intervention may be inadvisable for any number of reasons. Also, if the problem with the target group is its overall attitude, the strength of its motivation, or its unity of purpose, any overt action might prove ineffective or even counter-productive, resulting in a response opposite to that intended.

In such cases, it may be more prudent to exert a gradual influence or series of influences over an extended time. Here again, Dramatica is able to provide tools to know when and for how long to apply specific kinds of visible and/or invisible influence to ultimately obtain the desired changes in the target group’s mindset.

Identifying Problem Qualities and Directions

At times, there may currently be no problem, but the storyform may reveal that, if left unaltered, the course of events will lead the target group into an undesired orientation. This allows for the allocation of our own resources in advance so that we might prevent the Target group from taking that particular course and opting instead for one more consistent with our interests.

Again, the first step is to create a storyform from available data and then determine the qualities of the target group’s story mind that are contrary to desired attributes.

Determining Desired Qualities and Directions

Once the problem qualities and/or directions have been defined, alternative storyforms can be created using “what if” scenarios and risk analysis to determine the best choice for a new storyform we would like to see in place.

This storyform may represent a new state of mind for the target group as a unit, or a different path that will take it through an alternative series of actions than it would otherwise instigate.

Context and the Larger Story

One method of manipulating a target group into a new outlook or attitude is through the subtle placement of the psychological equivalent of shaped charges. Rather that the direct impact of intervention, a number of small, seemingly unconnected exposures to information or manipulated environments can combine to create a single and powerful influence that will provide an immediate course correction to the undesired qualities and directions of the target group.

To effect such a subtle and undetectable influence is possible due to the depth and detail of the Story Engine’s ability to calculate the collective influence of many small magnitude story points on the overall storyform.

Movie Frames

Returning to the “movie frame” concept in a proactive, rather than analytical manner, it is possible to create a series of storyforms, each of which is slightly different that the previous one. As with individuals, the mind of a target group is more open to accepting small changes and establishing a new normal than to larger immediate changes which raise resistance.

Over time, subtle influences can follow a planned arc of change that leads the target to a new mindset, perhaps even diametrically opposed to its original viewpoint.

It is important to recognize that any long-term arc must be constantly updated and adjusted so that new influences are brought to bear to limit or leverage the impact of chaotic influence on the chosen alternative course.

Potential Future Implementations

Currently, the story engine requires manual operators versed in the Dramatica theory for processing and creating storyforms for purposes of Analysis, Prediction, Intervention, and Influence.

In the future, natural language processing can be coupled with the story engine’s operations to bring a degree of automation to the identification of story points using hub theory to locate them in large quantities of raw data.

Influence networks can be employed to determine which story points are likely to belong to the same storyform and to assemble them into alternative storyforms which may co-exist in the same raw data.

Employing a real-time version of Dramatica’s Story Engine could allow for real time analysis of ongoing data flow and indicate new storyforms as soon as they manifest in the mindsets of target groups, alerting operators when existing storyforms have dissolved or altered due to ongoing influences.

Natural language output can provide continuously updated options in time-crucial situations with a series of live “what if” scenario suggestions.

In Summary

The Dramatica Theory of Story and the software that implements the theory in an interactive story engine has, for the last seventeen years, successfully enabled accurate analysis and creation of story structures in motion pictures, novels, stage plays, and all forms of narrative communication.

By identifying the crucial story points in the mindsets of target groups of any size, the Story Engine is equally effective in analyzing and altering a target group’s current and future attitudes and behavior in the real world.

Written June 5, 2011 – Revised June 6, 2011 – Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips

Narrative Analysis: Why Guam?

Guam has been referred to as America’s “permanent aircraft carrier.” It’s strategic importance as a bridge to Asia cannot be overstated. In 2016, it was revealed China has missiles targeted at Guam.

China has been “unable” to pressure Kim Jong Un to stand down, despite controlling a significant percentage of North Korea’s purse. Who put the bug about Guam in Kim Jong Un’s ear?

China publicly decries DPRK policies and votes in the United Nation for sanctions, distancing themselves from any appearance of privately supporting, perhaps even guiding Kim Jong Un’s responses.

Project forward, North Korea blasts Guam, making it un-useable for decades and causing our forces there great losses. The U.S. retaliates against the DPRK, moving forces to that region. China, who has aspirations as the major “peace-keeper” in Asia, and with its hands apparently clean regarding the attack, moves into North Korea to bring stability to the country now thrown into chaos, and for “humanitarian” reasons.

South Korea has already moved into the southerm portion of the DPRK to protect its security, and China is “forced” to take control of the entire Korean peninsula to quash the ensuing skirmishes, perhaps war, between the North and the South. And, due to “concerns” of Taiwan attempting to take advantage of China’s diverted attention, the PRC moves on and occupies Taiwan as well.

End game: U.S. forces arrive in the region with China in control of both Koreas and Taiwan and with no cards to play short of war with China. China is clean as a whistle having had no role in the attack nor counter attack, and the U.S. is stuck with the stigma of having destroyed thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens – innocent civilians: men, women and children, and has also lost its crucial base for any future hedge against Chinese expansion. Think about it.

This analysis was made based on perspectives
provided by the Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure