Late last week we installed a couple of new features to expand our level of service and improve our quality of content. In the coming weeks we will be adding even more features--including Membership pages and exclusive content. If you are interested in becoming a Member please visit the Narrative First Membership page.
This is the most exciting feature we added. Kept under fifteen minutes or so, these video tutorials will help walk you through an approach to Dramatica unlike anything you have probably seen before. Watch and learn as we show you how we use this powerful theory of story to unravel what makes great stories great and how to best apply it to your own work.
Check out the Storyforming Series
Character Arc Snapshots
A feature we started several years back and one we plan on contributing more to in the coming months, the Character Arc Snapshots explore the
Main Character Resolve and
Main Character Growth of a character. In less than two minutes you will understand precisely what makes this character's development tick, and what sets it apart from all the others.
Check out the Character Arc Snapshots
Concepts of Story Structure
Lastly, we finally finished collating and categorizing all the posts, articles, and analyses here on the site. Under the taxonomy Concepts you will find a list of Story Points within Dramatica that you can quickly find more information on. In addition, we added a random Story Point to the front page to remind you from time-to-time of something you might want to learn more about.
You likely noticed the addition of "code" styling to several of the posts here on Narrative First. Story Points such as the Story Judgment and Justification, now appear as
Story Judgment and
Justification. This should help you quickly scan content for the info you need. Eventually, these coded Story Points will have additional functionality.
Check out the Narrative First Concepts
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a great movie that owes much of its critical acclaim to its well-constructed narrative. An atypical approach to a typical arrangement of Throughlines, the film acts as a wonderful example of how fantastic storytelling transforms effective structure into something truly unique.
Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) supplies the
Main Character Throughline by being "a really bad egg." Overweight and steeped in "gangsta" culture, Ricky gives the Audience a chance to experience what it is like to be in his problematic
Situation. Until Aunt Bella (Roma Te Wiata), it seems as if no one wants him--and he wants to be nowhere.
As much as Ricky doesn't want to be anywhere, cantankerous Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) doesn't want to be around anyone. Hec's
Fixed Attitude creates problems everywhere he goes. From Aunt Bella's kitchen table to life on the farm working with Ricky to arguing with hunters who consider him a "pervert". Hec's `Influence Character Throughlines challenges Ricky to stand up for himself and grow as a young man.
The hunters aren't the only ones who think Hec a pervert. Social worker and self-proclaimed Terminator Paula (Rachel House) leads the manhunt for Hec and Ricky once the two disappear into the deep bush of New Zealand. Bored police officers, Swat team ninjas, and affable hunters all join in on the chase, creating an
Overall Story Throughline in
But the real heart of the story rests in the
Relationship Story Throughline between Ricky and Hec. Forced into a relationship neither really wants, they eventually grow to a place of true friendship and respect. Alone together they must grow beyond their own
Way of Thinking and see things from the other side. Eventually they do, with Hec's proclamation that we didn't choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose us sealing the deal.
Back when this site was called Story Fanatic, I started a series of video classes entitled Character Arc Snapshots. The idea was to provide a brief understanding of how a character arc works in Dramatica and how thinking of an arc this way is vastly superior to anything else out there. And do it all in less than two minutes.
With Dramatica, you can actually identify the exact
Element that drives your Main Character's growth and determine what Element they "arc" to. So instead of pining on and on about inner conflicts and outer conflicts and wants and needs, you can quickly and easily focus in on what is really causing your Main Character trouble and then develop a way for them to work out of it (or into it, as the case may be).
Dramatica gives writers the ingredients to make a great story--unlike every other understanding of narrative out there that tells you how a great story tastes (Save the Cat!, Hero's Journey, The Sequence Method, Bob's 543 Story Steps, etc.).
While editing the latest class Melanie and I gave on Learn Characters in a Day last month, I discovered these old gems. I did one for Luke Skywalker, Neo, William Wallace from Braveheart, and Robert Angiers from The Prestige. Two
Changed characters and two
Steadfast Main Characters. My hope is to do even more in the coming months.
I uploaded them to the Narrative First Vimeo channel and will be creating a section here on the site for them later this week. Or you can check them out below:
Luke Skywalker Character Arc Snapshot
Neo Character Arc Snapshot
William Wallace Character Arc Snapshot
Robert Angiers Character Arc Snapshot
Is it possible to have a subjective opinion about the relative value of Throughlines within a story? Possibly. Especially if you have been working with the Dramatica theory of story for any length of time.
For me, it has been 20 years. And if there is any arrangement of Throughlines that creates more boredom in me, it would be the one found in the Academy Award-winning Kramer vs. Kramer.
To be perfectly clear, the boredom stems more from the arrangement of Concerns within these Throughlines rather than the Throughlines themselves. We don't often dive down into the Concern level (the one just below the Domains we cover in Throughline Thursdays), but if we did, the combination of these Throughlines with a Concern of Obtaining in the Overall Story and the Future in the Main Character Throughline would certainly seem familiar.
The Matrix, Body Heat, El Mariachi, Rain Man, The Godfather, The Wild Bunch, Back to the Future, City Slickers, Election, Enchanted, Erin Brockovich, Kung Fu Panda, Looper, My Best Friend's Wedding, Shrek, Star Trek (2009), Surf's Up, Team America: World Police, The Limey, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre all find themselves in the same general area of the Dramatica Table of Story Elements. They all focus on the same kind of structural thematic material.
Kramer vs. Kramer is no different. For starters, we have Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) firmly set in
Situation for his
Main Character Throughline. Thrust into the world of a single dad the night after his confirmation of promotion, Ted works his ass off to better his lot in life and the lot of those he supports.
Ted is caught up in a custody battle with his ex-wife Joanna over their son Billy. This
Activity, which involves his neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander), respective attorneys and judge, defines the source of conflict for everyone in the story. The title of a narrative is where you often find the definition of the
Overall Story Throughline. You can't get much clearer than defining the conflict as Kramer vs. Kramer.
But two Throughlines is not enough to make a complete story. In order to round out the argument and cover all the bases logistically and emotionally, a story needs two more.
The first is the
Influence Character Throughline, a role handsomely accepted by Ted's son, Billy. The ten-year old is sullen, moody, and despondent. His
Fixed Attitude challenges Ted's hopes for a better future and informs the frazzled dad whether or not he is growing closer or farther away from his intended goal.
Lastly, we have the
Relationship Story Throughline that exists between father and son. Truly, the heart of Kramer vs. Kramer exists in those scenes between the two of them. The subtle and not-so-subtle
Manipulations of son against father ("Don't you eat that ice cream!") and father against son ("I told you take a shower") define their interactions and set the foundation for the heart of the narrative.
Four Throughlines. Each present and each fully developed. Hoffman and Streep excel in their performances, but it is the soundness of the narrative that justifies the critical acclaim. Sure, the arrangement might be typical of films of that century and reflective of the time period in which it was set, but it still holds together as an example of the Story Mind at work.