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2 minutes
January 9, 2017

Stories As Analogies To The Way We Think

The most effective way forward is to stop thinking about your story as something that happens in and around real characters.

Catching up on all things story after several weeks away, I found this gem from Melanie1

Narrative is not an artificial construct imposed on fiction nor on the real world, but it is a description of the ways of the mind beneath the level of subject matter. In a sense, narrative describes the operating system of the mind before a program is loaded.

So many of the writers I work with think of story as if it is something that actually happens to real-life characters. Story is an analogy to the way we think. Worrying about every character’s “want” or “need” regardless of their connection to that analogous process deep within the structure reveals itself to be a tremendous waste of time.

This is why story structure was not previously decipherable – you can’t explain a nonlinear system with a linear paradigm.

Every single other story paradigm or collection of journey beats treats story as a linear process that starts in one place and transforms the character into a hero or cat-saver by the end. Dramatica takes a different approach in considering that all elements of a narrative work together in a holistic, non-linear fashion.

This isn’t to say that something like the Hero’s Journey or Save the Cat! isn’t helpful for some; they simply don’t define the totality of story.

In closing, suffice it to say that through narrative, we are able to look into the structure and dynamics of the group mind and see the structure and dynamics within ourselves. And, as a result, narrative holds the key to understanding why we think and feel as we do, and provides the methods and techniques that can solve both our external problems and internal inequities.

So really, meditation and self-awareness is the key! Look within for answers without.


  1. Yes, I realize pretty much everything linked here is from Melanie Anne Phillips, one of the co-creators of Dramatica, but hey—until other writers start blogging about their experience with this revolutionary theory you will be hearing a lot from her. ↩︎

Concepts covered: Dramatica.

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