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The Original Dramatica Writer's Blocks

The original model of Dramatica, though simple in execution, presented an entirely new take on the development of strong and effective narrative.

The Dramatica theory of story is most complex and comprehensive understanding of narrative we have today. The Dramatica Table of Story Elements alone presents a perfectly balanced schematic of narrative elements that complements its potential for tension at every level. But it wasn't always so...

The Original Dramatica Writer's Blocks

...behold the original Dramatica--the Dramatica Writer's Blocks.[1] As you can see, the "building blocks" for the theory were in place from the very beginning.

A series of ten wooden blocks with a hole through each and tied together with a single string marked one of Chris and Melanie's first visualizations of narrative structure. The idea was that one could work their way down the blocks building up levels of justification in a process similar to the way the Dramatica Story Expert application does now.

Of course now the process is more complex and infinitely accurate, but it is interesting to see the development of the theory and how it eventually became what we have today. Some of the elements have survived--Change, State of Being, Feeling, Ability, and Order--but others like Reality and Can have undergone some transformation (Actuality and Permission, respectively).

Simple in concept, yet complex in application, the Dramatica theory of story survives as a theory built on the psychology of the human mind--not on popular films and Hollywood beat sheets.


  1. This was before there ever was a writing program known as Writer's Blocks. And yes, I purchased and used that program too back in the mid-90s. ↩︎