Dramatica Theory and Artificial Intelligence

Building a bettery story

Understanding Dramatica theory as the subtext of your story, rather than the story itself, is Step One into a greater knowing. Hint: it’s why I call my application of the theory Subtext.

A prerequisite to Step One is visualizing scenes as functions within the context of a more extensive program: your story. I explore the process in Writing with Methods, and elaborate on it in this post on the Discuss Dramatica forums: Mind Concern for the MC. In short, previous scenes front-load the current with properties that set up a potential for conflict. The scene works through this potential with a set of resistances that appear as current, then returns an outcome for the next function.

If familiar with object-oriented programming and function calls, this methodology for writing fiction is evident. If not, Dramatica co-creator Melanie Anne Phillips dives into the thinking behind this process in Building an Artificial A.I.:

To get a grip on the significance of this, let us consider Object Oriented Programming. In this system of developing software (such as C++), one does not design all operations as a single overall program. Rather, sub-routines are created (called objects) which can be called by the overall program at any time and assigned to a given task...Similarly, the units of Dramatica (at any level) are processes that are treated as objects in the model so we might observe, replicate, and predict how and when the program at large (the combination of our Awareness and Self-Awareness) calls on the processes, in what order, in what frequency, and in what pattern.

Dramatica theory is a model of the mind, stories merely reflections of ourselves. Self-interest is a repeating process, as is a Protagonist.

Understanding Dramatica theory is Step One towards building a better Artificial Intelligence—and, therefore, a better story.

Consider this article on Japanese research into A.I.:

Takafumi Nakanishi, senior research fellow at the Center for Global Communications at International University of Japan, said that for the time being at least, A.I. will be a handy tool to help expand human creativity. He referred to the example of Dramatica, a screenwriting program heavily used in Hollywood. The software makes suggestions on story structure and plausible characters every step of the way as the users write the script, utilizing vast data from past hits. “Dramatica exemplifies the idea of humans supplementing their creativity with A.I.,” he said. “Dramatica itself is not creative. In the near future, using A.I. to boost knowledge will become a mainstream style of work for people.”

In other words, Dramatica and Subtext are biological enhancements for your art.