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An Example Of The Dramatic Circuit In Action

Thinking of the holistic relationship between dramatic movements grants Authors the ability to tell complete stories.

Continuing our discussion yesterday regarding PRCO and Scene Construction, consider a typical Plot Progression for an Overall Story Throughline in Activity:

  • Signpost 1: Understanding
  • Signpost 2: Doing
  • Signpost 3: Obtaining
  • Signpost 4: Learning

From this we can identify the SRCA, or 1234, of the Throughline, but we can't appreciate PRCO. As a reminder the SRCA reflects the Setup, Revelation, Conflict, and Aftermath of a quad.

Let's imagine for a second that it follows the typical Z pattern through a quad.

  • Signpost 1: Understanding would be the Potential
  • Signpost 2: Doing would be the Resistance
  • Signpost 3: Obtaining would be the Current
  • Signpost 4: Learning would be the Outcome

This could play out in a story like this:

An English professor screws over Chinese Nationalists by trading bogus inside information for access to secret technological hardware. This Misunderstanding manufactured by the Professor is the inequity of the story. The imbalance between forces is the source of Potential for conflict in the story: the Nationalists want revenge for being duped and the Professor wants to use the secrets to invent a device to change the world.

This would be an extremely boring and mundane cat-and-mouse tale if it weren't for the Professor's nephew who shows up and accidentally absconds with the secrets. In fact, he not only makes off with the tech, he ends up setting it off--creating a wormhole in the universe that transports him into the heart of the NSA's new neural network for spying on the world. Running from the Chinese Nationalists already in the network and the NSA agents who have identified an intruder is the Resistance (the Doing) to that initial Potential. Especially since returning to the professor would drag attention to the old man and destroy any chance of his invention coming to fruition.

Potential meets Resistance and creates the Current of our story. The nephew works to get a message of warning to the professor while the Chinese and US spy agencies work to Permanently Extract the Bug from the Network (Obtaining). Agents from both sides delete each other as they work towards neutralizing the nephew.

The only thing left to cover is the Outcome of this circuit.

The nephew makes it out of the network and back to reality alive. Unaware of the results of his attempt to communicate to the professor, the boy races back home only to witness the professor's murder at the hands of the Chinese Nationalists. They gave the boy his access back into the real world, avoiding conflict in order to Track the Boy and Locate the Whereabouts of the Professor (Learning). But the Chinese weren't the only ones following the boy's every move. The NSA arrives and terminates the Chinese agents as well. In doing so, the Americans reveal to the boy that they helped deliver his message to the professor.

The boy beams as the professor rises to his feet revealing a bulletproof vest beneath his clothing: he knew all along what was going to happen thanks to the boy and prepared for the occasion. And what's more...the professor had time to hide away his invention from the prying eyes of the NSA.

The professor changes the world with his invention.

Order Carries Meaning

With the professor saving the world, we complete the dramatic circuit of our story. By aligning the 1234 order with PRCO we tell a certain kind of story. If we were to alter this story by changing 1234 to match say OPCR, then we would be telling a different kind of story. **The order of the progression of events through the storyform carries meaning. **

Note that this is separate from any Storyweaving techniques applied to the storyform during the Storytelling process. Films like Memento, Pulp Fiction, and Remains of the Day may play with the order in which they reveal the storyform, but they do not alter the message, or meaning, of the story. SRCA is not time-switching.

Tomorrow we will cover this difference in meaning and show how it relates back to the structure of a scene.