Story Structure Tip |The Story Mind

Every story has a mind of its own with its own psychology and its own personality. A story’s psychology is determined by its structure, and its personality is developed through storytelling.

All the characters within the story are like facets of the overall Story Mind. And so you see characters who represent Reason, Passion, Conscience, and Temptation, for example.

Characters must do two jobs in a story. First, they must fulfill their role as a facet of the Story Mind and also they must have fully functional minds of their own – their own reason, passion, conscience, temptation, and others.

In this way, readers (or audiences) identify with each character as a real person, but they also see the characters’ Story Mind functions work together to try and solve the problem of the story as whole.

As in real life, stories are all about trying to cope with two levels of problems: the issues we each have as individuals, and the difficulties we face in fulfilling our role as part of a group effort.

All dramatic tension springs from situations in which working to resolve issues at one of those two levels causes difficulties in the other.

In other words, we all feel the pressure between what we commit to do in a group and what we need to do for ourselves.

This, of course, is just a quick overview of what is truly and complex yet organic system we know as story structure.

In 1991, my partner and I published a rather lengthy book documenting our fully developed theory of narrative built around the Story Mind concept and called it Dramatica. And shortly afterward we released a software tool for writers that implemented the Story Mind model in a patented Story Engine that could cross-reference the impact of your dramatic intent across scores of story points to ensure perfect story structure for your novel or screenplay.

You can read our Dramatica theory book here for free, and you also might want to check out the Dramatica software here.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator, StoryWeaver
Co-creator, Dramatica