A frequent question received in regards to the Dramatica theory of story is the connection between the Main Character’s Problem and Solution Elements and the Influence Character’s Problem and Solution Elements. Admittedly, there must be some connection between them; with a relationship built on “You and I are both alike,” the binds that tie them together must course throughout each Throughline.
Can you help me understand the connection between a Changed MC’s solution, and how that relates to the IC? As I understood it, when an MC changes, the MC takes on the IC’s domain (say, from be-er to do-er). In addition, the MC switches to more fully utilizing their “solution” element to resolve their problem. Is the MC’s solution somehow implicitly connected to the ICs domain?
No. There is no direct connection between the Main Character’s Solution and the Influence Character’s Domain.
For those unfamiliar with Dramatica’s model of the Storymind, a Throughline consists of four different levels of magnification on conflict:
True, both Element and Domain turn their attention towards the same source of conflict—but there is no implicit meaningful connection between one Throughline’s Domain and another’s Element.
And that’s because each Throughline sees things from a different perspective.
In Dramatica, the Main Character and Influence Characters are perspectives, not actual characters. The former takes the I view, the latter the You aspect. While these Throughlines sit on both sides of the conflict, they don’t sit in direct opposition.
When confronted with the concept of the duality between the Main Character and Influence Character, many think of the difference between black and white, on or off, 1 or 0.
The reality is the difference between black and white AND grey. Between on and off AND transition. Between 1 and 0 and infinity. Binary and analog.
Similar in some respects (“You and I are both alike”), disparate in many others (“We’re nothing alike!). But this relationship between the Throughlines—not to be confused with the actual Relationship Story Throughline—is a relationship between perspectives and is thus seen at the very top, or Genre level.
Consider the first season of the HBO series, Westworld. Dolores Abernathy (Rachel Evan Wood) is the Main Character of that narrative, Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Davis) is the Influence Character. When it comes to the problem of Artificial Intelligence, the two don’t merely sit on either side of reality. Dolores struggles with reality from within—pushing against confusing memories and images with little to no coherence. Bernard pushes against the physical facts within which he lives.
Dolores sees the central conflict of that first season from an inner perspective. Bernard pays witness to the same from an external point-of-view. The Main Character and Influence Character of a story offer two distinct views on the same central conflict. By definition, these alternate perspectives are not merely opposite.
Writers can, and often do, make all kinds of connections between the two during the process of writing. Strip away the storytelling, however, and one fails to find a meaningful relationship between Problem and Solution elements in either Throughline.