Series of Blog Posts

Bringing Freedom to the Dramatica Theory of Story

Mulling over greater accuracy

One of the greatest hurdles for writers approaching Dramatica is the terminology. Many focus so intently on the definitions in the theory book and the words themselves, that they lose sight of the true meaning of what those words are meant to represent. In this series, I explore exchanging "negative" terms--biased towards Linear thought--with more positive-minded aspects.

Considering the Narrative Element of Uncontrolled

In our quest to develop the most accurate model of narrative, some initial terms might need reconsideration.

Seriously considering changing the Element of Uncontrolled to Free—especially after uploading the latest storyform for Hacksaw Ridge.

_Hacksaw Ridge_ in Subtext

Wading my way through the Dramatica® archives last week, I found documents with earlier incarnations of key terms. Channeled for Control. Procrastination for Delay. Prejudice for Preconception.

Chris Huntley, co-creator of the Dramatica theory of story, pointed to Uncontrolled as an example of a binary element pair (Control & Uncontrolled) that really shouldn't be so binary. Uncontrolled sounds like a lack of Control, which really isn't what that element is meant to describe. Directionless, or Free, would be a better indicator of this touch point within the narrative model.

Taken within the context of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) form Hacksaw Ridge, this difference showcases the deficiency of Uncontrolled. Doss doesn't respond by being "uncontrolled", he responds by pushing for the freedom to pursue his own course of action.

The best thing about Subtext—I mean, there are several best things about the service—but one of the best is the idea that I can adjust & improve the model instantaneously. No longer beholden to extended release cycles, I can upgrade the narrative model—and therefore your ability to accurately assess conflict—by the hour if needed.

An early release of Subtext took advantage of this potential with its usage of the original Genre classifications of Universe, Physics, Psychology, and Mind and the subtle—yet powerful—adjustment of a Change Main Character Resolve to a Changed Main Character Resolve. The former improves the writer's understanding of the areas of conflict within a story, while the latter removes all question of whether or not a Steadfast Main Character changes (he does).

In the end, it's all about developing the most accurate model of narrative.

More Evidence of Free as an Element of Narrative

Yet another example of where a slight shift in perspective would bring greater understanding.

Two days in a row and I suspect the universe is trying to tell me something. Looking over the elements of narrative in the recently uploaded Moana storyform:

Maui's Throughline in Subtext

We see Uncontrolled as an Influence Character Problem for Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Sure, his challenging perspective is all over the place, but is it really about being Uncontrolled--or is it about being Free?

Imagine an Influence Character Problem of Free defining the source of Maui's impact on Moana and the challenge for her to stay resolute in her own perspective. Less about the wild, uncontrolled nature of his character and more about the drive to be unrestrained and directionless.

I wonder how many other storyforms would be better served by this adjustment.

Day Three of Clarity with the Elements of Structure

Focusing on the opposite of an element encourages one to narrow their appreciation of a narrative.

Ok, now this is getting spooky.

After two days of considering the narrative element of Uncontrolled and evidence that the term Free might better explain that area of the narrative model, I stumble across yet another negative-binary term: Non-acceptance.

Meant to signify the dynamic opposite of Acceptance, Non-acceptance sounds a lot like a lack of acceptance--which it really isn't meant to denote; the same way a lack of Control sounds way too much like Uncontrolled.

A more accurate term might be Rejection.

Maui's Throughline in the Atomizer

Explored within the context of Captain Fantastic, a drive to Reject societal norms not only reads better than a drive to "non-accept"--but also speaks more to the heart of Ben's personal issues, and the issues of the Objective Story. It also fits in well with other elements of story found in this area like Induction, Reduction, Production, and Deduction.

And it focuses on what the element is, not what the element isn't.

And it fits in better under the issue of Permission. And it would look 5,000 times better in the Atomizer.

The problem with constantly needing to reject modern day culture is at the core of all things Captain Fantastic.

We understand Rejection.

We kinda-sorta get Non-acceptance.