The Premise as found in Subtext (formerly the Narrative Argument) is both an extension and reduction of the Dramatica theory of story. Extension in that it can help you skip over twenty years of education to quickly arrive at your story’s unique structure; reduction as it boils down the seventy-five plus Storypoints found in a Dramatica storyform into one sentence.

This is a feature.

A Dramatica storyform is a hologram of Author’s intent, I.e. what you’re trying to say with your story. However, the Appreciations of that storyform only hold meaning in how they relate to one another. And the process of learning these relationships takes years and years of study.

If I showed you this, would you be able to tell me what your story means?

A Sample Story Engine Settings Report from Dramatica Story Expert

Of course not.1

But if you were to read this instead:

:::premise You can look forward to having a better life when you give up supporting the system. :::

You could easily explain to anyone the argument being made with the story. In fact, you could probably start writing a couple of scenes right now.

Yet, they both mean the same thing.

They’re both indicative of the unique story structure behind The Shawshank Redemption.

One sparks study; the other—creativity.

The Premise in Subtext is the message of the story--it is neither tied to the Protagonist nor the Main Character, but rather the relationship between the Author and Audience. When you read it, imagine you (as the Author) being able to meet with every single Audience member individually and communicating to them this important message.

You can't do that in real life.

That’s all the Storyform in Dramatica is: a carrier wave of intention from artist to receiver. The algorithms that create the Premise in Subtext are a mixture of the primary objective and subjective views (Objective Story Throughline and Main Character Throughline) along with a set of Premise Appreciations. The latter look very similar to the Audience Appreciations in Base Dramatica (Tendency, Essence, etc.) with one important distinction--they are engineered to communicate message over the Audience’s apparent Appreciation of meaning. They change and adapt to other dynamics within the story based on my practical experience of using Dramatica to write stories.

In short, find a Premise that resonates with you and write your story around that intention. Everything else will fall into place.

  1. If you can read & understand the Story Engine Settings Report, please contact us at Narrative First for potential job opportunities.😃