My first series of articles covered the concept of the Meaningful Ending. The video montages that went with the articles were the cornerstone of these series and of my weekend workshops and course at the California Institute of the Arts. I'm happy to say that I finally found the time to reupload these videos and embed them within their respective articles.
One of the great things about Dramatica is that it doesn't dictate what your story should mean, but rather gives you the ingredients to determine the meaning you want to give.
Two of the ingredients are the
Story Outcome and the
Story Judgment. The first can be either
Failure and signifies the results of the efforts to achieve the central
Story Goal. This is the logistical part of what a story means. This is where you find satisfaction.
The second ingredient can be either
Bad and passes judgment on the emotional assessment of the effort to reach that Goal. Typically you find this within the Main Character's emotional state as we are supposed to be them for the story. If the Main Character ends the story down and out and still filled with angst, well then the efforts to go after that Goal were really a Bad thing. If instead the Main Character resolves their issues and feels better about things, then there attempts to participate in resolving that Goal were a Good thing.
Combine these four together and you create a matrix of Meaningful Endings:
- Success and Good == Triumph
- Failure and Good == Personal Triumph
- Success and Bad == Personal Tragedy
- Failure and Bad == Tragedy
The series on Meaningful Endings covered all four of these:
- Triumph == How to End a Movie
- Personal Triumph == Writing the Personal Triumph
- Personal Tragedy == Writing the Personal Tragedy
- Tragedy == How to Write a Tragedy
Funny thing is, I changed the second of the Personal Triumph videos to include Stand By Me instead of Donnie Darko. While accurate, Donnie is so strange and incomprehensible for people new to the film to understand, that switching seemed like the best thing to do. Only problem is now I've got to update the article.
The Hero's Journey always feels like it dictates what your story should mean: characters and events are treated like symbols of a common transformational journey, rather than the ingredients one would use to construct their own take on the world. ↩︎