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3 minutes
September 13, 2016

Dramatica On The Sequence Method

The start of our dive into the popular Sequence Method for structuring a screenplay.

Recently, I started watching Paul Gulino speak on the Sequence Method—a popular screenwriting paradigm that is the foundation for many collegiate screenwriting programs. A client of ours finds himself surrounded with many steeped in this methodology and he was interested what Dramatica might have to say about it. Now that I’m posting here everyday, I thought it might be interesting to jot down my findings.

This is a very difficult program for me to watch.

Like with most everything that is not Dramatica, the Sequence Method as presented in the video is a paradigm of story seen from the point-of-view of the Audience. And this is a very difficult perspective to take for someone who has immersed themselves in Dramatica for over two decades. Audiences vary, the story does not. Why would you want to base the foundation of a story on the opinion or opinions of various Audiences?

This is paramount to everything it teaches, as evidenced by Gulino himself:

The sequence method focuses on how the audience will experience the story and what the writer can do to make that story better.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Except for one thing: anything seen from the Audience’s point-of-view is naturally subjective and therefore always open to interpretation. While the techniques of Storytelling and StoryReception outlined from this perspective are compelling, they don’t deal with the actual construction of a story.

You can’t start to cook a four course-meal by first asking I wonder how this will taste to everyone? I wonder how they will receive it? You can ask that question during the process of cooking, or somewhere near the end, but asking it at the beginning will leave you paralyzed and unable to proceed.

No wonder so many writers think story is hard. The overwhelming majority of information out there doesn’t actually help when it comes to creating a story.

Dramatica, on the other hand, takes an objective look at story. Looking at narrative from the Author’s point-of-view, it asks What is it you want to say with your story? Note the difference in mindset here—instead of dealing with experience, Dramatica deals with process. It deals with the ingredients of story.

I’ll continue to watch this video and offer up whatever insight I can. It will be interesting to see if there is something that can be developed in terms of sequences as Dramatica in its current incarnation focuses solely on the Signposts (what most people think of as Acts).

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