Always nice to end the week with some sanity in regards to the Dramatica theory of story. This comment arrives in response to a rather negative post from John Guy Collick that I previously addressed in Success: The Skeptic's Worst Nightmare:
During my early period of study of Dramatica I was skeptic too, so the way I tested it out was by examining well formed stories (novels or movies) and transpose them into the software by answering the various questions. What came out was the software was able to predict in great detail the thematic elements and plot progressions of the given story. By this approach I’ve managed to fill in the understanding gap that made it difficoult for me to use it as a creative tool.
This is Dramatica' greatest strength: based on choices you make regarding how you want your story to play out, Dramatica can accurately predict story elements you didn't even know about. It basically helps fill in the gaps in your own writer's intuition.
It’s sad to read that some people jumped into purchasing the software with such high expectations but after gave up on it out of disappointement. Buying the software in no way exonerates from reading the theory book.
I admit that Dramatica has a rather steep learning curve, and it took me over a year to fully digest the theory, reading the book over and over again (end fiddling with the software now and then). The reason I haven’t bought the software is because I realize that having the software without having learned the theory is not much use. The software is meant as a tool for those who know the theory (and the terminology of the theory).
Dramatica is not easy, but I guarantee well worth the time and certainly not a stifler of creativity. The theory helped me organize my story from concept to final draft in less than six weeks. It helped point out to me the reason I kept getting stuck on another story I had been working on for several years. It helps me organize and inspire the various clients I have working with me through the Dramatica® Guru service or the Dramatica® Mentorship Program. In fact, I just finished reading one client's work with Dramatica's thematic Plot Sequences that was so positively moving, I'm incorporating it into everything I work on from here on out. As he put it:
For the longest time, until I did the PSR for the IC I didn't really know what the grand argument was. I had an idea... I was swirling around it, but then when I did that work I landed on it and it all just clicked
We had figured out most of his story's underlying structure with our work on the Playground exercises. it wasnt untik we took that work to the plot sewuences tgst the stiry finally came to life.
in no way Dramatica is promoted as a magic tool that will allow you to come up with a full story by clicking buttons. More likely (if you’ve read the book) you’ll have a story in your mind, and have written a good draft of it on paper, at that point Dramatica is the perfect (in my opinion) tool for veryfying that all dramatic elements are in place in order to form a valid argument for the audience/readers.
Whether organic or structuralist, writers will eventually have to organize their thoughts into something meaningful. I just find Dramatica's ability to cogently lay out the mind's organizing process an effective tool for writing. If you love great stories, Dramatica will only increase your love and appreciation of them.