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2 minutes
September 18, 2015

Understanding The Influence Character's Signpost

Tying the influence of the second principal character in a story to the Main Character.

A common question for those new to Dramatica is how exactly the Influence Character’s Signposts work with the Main Character. Their limited understanding usually falls into one of two camps:

A) The Influence Character deals with their Signpost which somehow influences the Main Character OR

B) The Influence Character somehow influences the Main Character to deal with the Influence Character’s Signpost.

The confusion arises because of some apparently contradicting definitions within the Dramatica theory book. These complications befuddle would-be writers so greatly that some take to sending identical form letters to separate Dramatica Story Experts—all in an effort to expose the hypocrisy. One response is all that is needed:

The answer you’re going to get is “No.” Dramatica doesn’t have to settle on either one because they’re not mutually exclusive — both a) and b) apply. They’re both correct because they both serve the same purpose by providing influence towards the Main Character’s throughline.

Now that is an Expert opinion. (Full disclosure: I was the expert).

Responding to a question posing Memory as an example Influence Character Signpost Dramatica co-creator Chris Huntley backs my answer up:

Both A and B are correct. It is the presence of Memory that influences the Main Character’s in his dealings with his personal issues. Whether it is an attribute of the Impact Character, or attributed to the Impact Character is irrelevant. The reality of one explanation does not cancel out the other.

Even if you do not connect the dots between the MC throughline and the IC throughline, the audience will.

This is something that takes awhile to understand. The Storyform is a construct, a carrier wave meant to relay information to the Audience. It doesn’t matter which approach you use as long as the Audience understands the kind of influence impacting the Main Character. Do that and the Audience will be able to synthesize the Throughline and be able to make sense of what you are trying to tell them.

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