The Appreciations of a Premise

While a Dramatica storyform identifies seventy-five touch-points between Author and Audience, Subtext’s Premise sees five. Moreover, these items reference the relationship between the Author and the work—not the Author and Audience. Think of these Appreciations as a means by which we understand a Dramatica storyform, and therefore better appreciate our stories.

In short, Premise Appreciations are shortcuts to Dramatica.


The message of a storyform emphasizes one of two avenues:

  • Problem-solving
  • Self-actualization

Stories about Problem-solving include Star Wars, Marriage Story, the first season of Barry, and Of Mice and Men.

Stories emphasizing Self-actualization include Elf, Mean Girls, The Social Network, and Platoon.

This Emphasis sets the Mindset of your story and influences everything from Act order to the underlying motivations of your characters.


The Emphasis of a Premise is a 1:1 relationship with Dramatica’s concept of Main Character Problem-solving Style. Linear stories emphasize Problem-solving; Holistic stories engender Self-actualization.


The primary function of a story is to challenge, or influence, one’s preconceptions and biases. A Premise invites someone to consider their justifications against an alternative Perspective.

Justifying one’s subjective self in relation to an objective context is not fixed—it’s a process that sees this Perspective:

  • Abandoned, or
  • Maintained

Stories that feature Perspective in Abandonment include Star Wars, Inception, Captain Fantastic, and the first season of Stranger Things.

Stories that focus on Perspective in Maintenance include Mean Girls, Die Hard, A Bronx Tale, and the first season of Cobra Kai.

The Perspective of the Premise is the backbone of your story’s message.


The Perspective of a Premise is a 1:1 relationship with the Dramatica concept of the Main Character Resolve. A Changed Resolve depicts the Abandonment of a Perspective; a Steadfast Resolve portrays the Maintaining of a Perspective.


The junction of objective and subjective concerns is not always a smooth process. A mixture of external pressure and personal bias speaks of the relative ease at which one flows through a narrative.

Bias aligning with outside forces strikes a harmonious balance within the mind’s ability to process inequity. Dissonance engenders alternating frequencies of variance.

This rather elaborate relationship results in two different ways of appreciating Engagement:

  • Variance, and
  • Harmony

Stories of Variance include Good Will Hunting, the first season of Wanderlust, and Black Swan.

Stories of Harmony include Star Wars, Home Alone, Field of Dreams, and A Room with a View.

Engagement captures the vibration between the subjective point-of-view and the catalyzing forces behind the objective perspective.


The Engagement of a Premise is a mixture of the Main Character Approach and Story Driver found in Dramatica. While it tends to reflect the Audience Appreciation of Tendency, variations occur within the context of a Self Emphasized story.