Helping Writers

Earlier today I helped a writer figure out the structure of their story over on Discuss Dramatica and understand which character should fulfill what role. You'll note that I tried my best to interpret what the Author was trying to say, not mutate their story into a specific set of hero steps or sequence beats.

This is when narrative theory shines: the tools and concepts amplify or solidify the Author's original intent or creative vision.

Note too my advice to "open the story up." Dramatica naturally causes this to happen by virtue of its Four Throughlines and through its concept of separating the Protagonist from Main Character. Most understandings of story tend to reduce thematic material, rather than encourage greater production.

The Author made some of the more common mistakes those new to Dramatica make: thinking of the Protagonist when determining Main Character Resolve and Main Character Growth (when it should really be all about the Main Character) and not being ultra-clear on the connection between the Story Goal and the Story Outcome. The solution to the latter problem is easy enough:

  1. Determine the inequity of the story (what went wrong during the Inciting Incident)
  2. Establish the Goal necessary to resolve that inequity, or bring it back into balance
  3. The person for that resolution is the Protagonist. The person against it, the one preventing it, is the Antagonist
  4. If the Protagonist wins the Story Outcome is a Success. If they don't, it's a Failure

From there it should be easy to keep your story in check. Set the Story Outcome and Story Goal in Dramatica. You can also go ahead and set the Overall Story Problem as it defines the inequity you established in Step One above. With these structural foundations in place, it should be easier to avoid any potential contradictions during your draft. **Knowing what the problems are and what is needed to solve them ** will help alleviate the problem of a pointless and meandering story.