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The Dramatica® Mentorship Program

Imagine being the kind of writer who can knock out a great story with only one or two drafts. Imagine yourself as the one person in the story room with all the right answers. And imagine your stories connecting with audience members in a way that only a master writer can claim. Now imagine that transformation happening in as little as six months.

With the Dramatica® Mentorship Program you can make that dream of writing stories a reality.

Personalized Instruction

No one likes wasting their time working on something that ends up going nowhere. Writers want tips and tricks and techniques that help them become faster and better storytellers. With it's intense in-depth and personalized instruction of the Dramatica theory of story, the Dramatica® Mentorship Program promises to make you a master of the written word.

Take our program, and we promise you'll never look at story the same way again.

Rigorous writing exercises and focused analysis help educate the mentee on the theory while providing a firm foundation from to develop an understanding of narrative. Also, you get special access to training material specifically designed to make Dramatica accessible and approachable.

Relationship Post
Relationship Post

What is Dramatica?

Dramatica is a unique way of looking at story based on the psychology of the mind. In short, the theory says that stories think as we do; understand how we solve problems and you'll understand how stories work. Great writers know this association intuitively. William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Harper Lee, Aaron Sorkin--they all wrote Dramatica-structured stories. They just didn't know it.

Perhaps you understand this intuitively as well but aren't sure what to do with it. Or maybe you don't, and you need help recognizing that voice within. Either way, we can help develop your intuition to the level of and beyond these great masters.

Introducing your Personal Mentor, Dramatica Expert James R. Hull

As a Certified Dramatica® Story Expert with over 20 years of experience, I have seen time and time again the power of Dramatica to break down story holes instantly and more importantly, identify what story points would fix them. You will save time and heartache once you know how to use these tools. It's an education unlike any other.

Not Just for Screenplays

Think this is only for screenwriters? The majority of our students are novelists working on multi-novel series, and we've even found success helping playwrights. Story is story regardless of the medium. The Dramatica® Mentorship Program is for writers who want to become master writers.

A Collaborative Learning Environment

Using the collaborative writing environment Quip, Jim and the student work to establish a rapport and an appreciation of Dramatica not possible merely from reading articles and blog posts.

Quip in Action
Quip in Action

By highlighting problem passages, Jim can offer expert insight into what Dramatica is saying about your story. A convenient sidebar manages all revisions and comments making it easier to refer back to any problem areas. This process will transform your mastery of story.

Quip in Action again
Quip in Action again

Join the Narrative First Slack Team

Narrative First Slack Team
Narrative First Slack Team

Every student gains access to the Narrative First Slack Team—a private instant messaging service specifically reserved for writers interested in improving their understanding and application of the theory. In addition to gaining private access to Jim, Narrative First Slack members can ask questions in a semi-public forum during office hours every Monday night.

The integration of screen sharing services like Screenhero make connecting remotely with your mentor as easy as typing /hero. Get connected, and Jim will walk you through the various ways of using Dramatica right on your screen, almost as if he or she was in the room with you.

And you can even call him directly from within the app via a single click.

Course Outline

The following section lists a brief overview of the program and what the student may expect. Note that we do reserve the right to adjust the program to better fit the student's understanding and proficiency with Dramatica and their time schedules. Not everyone is the same and part of the value of this program is our ability and desire to give a uniquely personal experience.

The Table of Story Elements Tour

Starting with the Domain level and working down, the student will watch two movies a week with similar storyforms appreciations. This exercise will help develop the mentee's understanding and familiarity with certain terminology. This process will continue throughout the course, working top down and throughout the Static Plot Points (Goal, Consequence, Requirements, etc.)

Weekly Time Requirement: 5 hours

Recognition of Dynamic Story Points

In addition to learning the Table of Story Elements, the student will attempt to identify and explain the eight dynamic story points for one of these movies.

Weekly Time Requirement: 1 hour

Understanding Story through Dramatica

Once a month, the student will choose a current run movie or one NOT found on the Dramatica website and attempt to identify the Storyform for it. Extensive analysis will not be required, but the student will be required to backup his or her arguments. If successful, the report ends up on the central Dramatica site.

Monthly Time Requirement: 5 hours

Purposeful Story Development

The student will work with the Playground exercises (as described on the Narrative First website) to develop their own story. Spending a month on each Throughline (Main Character, Influence Character, Relationship Story, and Overall Story), the student will spend the first half of the month crafting five different Gist Playgrounds. The second half will be spent pulling and mixing individual appreciations from each Playground exercise to use on the writer's own story. After the initial four months, the student will then choose two throughlines to develop through the Plot Sequence Report, one throughline per month.

Weekly Time Requirement: 2-3 hours

Expectations

Total weekly time requirements: anywhere from 9-10 hours. This time may vary according to the individual and will be adjusted accordingly. Note that these demands reflect the time spent by the student on a case-by-case basis and do not reflect additional time spent with the Mentor. Time spent communicating with the Mentor (asking questions, further elaboration, etc.) may add extra time on top of this.

The Mentor agrees to reserve 8 hours a month to exclusively working with the student on their development. This time does not reflect moments spent answering quick questions through email or clarifications, but rather dedicated time spent reviewing and evaluating homework. Office hours are on Mondays from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm Pacific Time (video chat online or by phone).

Tuition is $650 USD/month or $2799 for six months. A valid credit card is required at the start of services, and you can cancel at any time. No fees for early cancellation, but all transactions are final. Note that this is an introductory offer—the fees for this service will increase in 2016.

Feedback from Students

I believe strongly in the value of this program. And I love helping people write great stories. There is nothing better than opening a writer's eyes to a greater sense of story:

"It's starting to make a lot of sense. Like I said before, I've learned more about Dramatica in just these exercises than I did in a year. Amazing stuff."

"I think something clicked within the last few weeks and my understanding of Dramatica leaped chasms. Everything seems to have coalesced. All the work we’ve done with this mentorship program, and now the outline work, has engendered a much deeper meaning of and facility with the theory for me. So, I wanted to say, thank you."

"I can't say this enough, I've learned so much about Dramatica in a few short months. Double edged sword though, it makes it tough to watch movies and not be 'that guy' who picks it apart bit by bit lol "

Feedback on the Dramatica® Mentorship Program

Dramatica Mentor student Mike Lucas shares his experience with the Dramatica Mentorship Program from Narrative First:

One thing that's not mentioned too often (I think it would discourage people) is that Dramatica is not all that useful until you really understand it well. If you can't come up with a reasonably accurate storyform for your story, then trying to follow it may do more harm than good! (Caveat: I think it could be useful if you're careful to apply only what you know, like if you understand the 4 throughlines and domains, you could use just that and get great results without trying to figure out the full storyform.)

This is why I think the mentorship with Jim is valuable -- even if you understand Dramatica pretty well, he can get you to that level of understanding that you need for Dramatica to be really useful.

Do you think your own writing is either better, or faster (more efficient), because of what you learned through the material with Jim?

Yes. Before I found Dramatica, I was a pantser. But I rarely finished stories (had never gone past Chapter 4 of a novel) and I recognized that I needed to learn how to outline. Unfortunately, story structure advice always made me feel like throwing up, literally! Until I found Dramatica.

Dramatica really struck a chord with me. It was definitely what I needed to be able to outline my stories properly. But for the reasons mentioned above, I needed Jim to take me that last level to make it really useful.

Now I find I'm VERY confident in my story structure, and in my ability to take a story idea and give it the structure it needs. i.e. to develop a story idea into a full fledged story outline. (The actual writing is still tough of course -- even knowing what I want to happen in a scene, and knowing that it hits on various structural things like OS Problem & Issue and IC Symptom/Response in awesome ways, I still sometimes struggle to get the words down. Some days it comes easy and others not. Still struggling against that inner critic I guess. I'm sure you can relate. But anyway, that's not really something Dramatica can help with beyond giving me confidence in the story's skeleton, which it has! :-) )

Is Jim a good teacher in general, and does he make the content fun and engaging?

Definitely. I especially appreciated all the work he did with my story. He was very willing to go through my story outline and offer feedback and suggestions. (Actually, he helped me re-build the outline from the ground up!) And the work he did with me on the Playground Exercises for Influence Character and Relationship Story was invaluable. Through all these things I learned how to apply Dramatica to my own work, and couldn't have done it without Jim's guidance.

He also was a great teacher in terms of general Dramatica principles, i.e. exercises where I learned to really grasp different Domains and Concerns by watching films and identifying throughlines. When I needed help / corrections, would do online chat sessions with me and put me on the spot, get me to  understand what I was doing wrong.

Is there anything else you know about having been through the tutoring with Jim that you think would be useful for me to know?

Don't be afraid to schedule time with him. I wish I'd done that more often, rather than waiting to see if he was online or respond to my questions, because he's a busy guy with plenty of other clients. You can schedule chat sessions or even an actual phone call; the latter is very useful to work things out more quickly or for trickier subjects, when you're just not grasping some concept or something.

Also, the assignments are based on watching films, and sometimes I found I just didn't have time to watch them every week (depending whether my wife was interested in watching with me, etc.). So I fell a bit behind and probably didn't complete as many different "sections" over the course of my 6-month mentorship as I could have. I should have prioritized watching the films a bit more. Depending on how many months of mentorship you can afford, you might want to give yourself some targets (once you get the hang of what the assignments are like) to make sure you can optimize your investment.

But on the other hand, I feel like I have a fantastic grasp of Dramatica now, and I can kind of get the same learning on my own by analyzing films or books after I watch/read them.

You might be interested to know that after Jim's mentoring I've been able to analyze some films and come up with the "right" full storyform on the first try without looking. (I think I did this with Collateral, Star Trek 2009, and Whiplash.) I also realized that I had the narrative of The Princess Bride somehow baked into my blood, as Jim will tell you that analysis basically just poured out of me!

Jim here: After his time in the Dramatica Mentorship Program, Mike produced the comprehensive analysis for The Princess Bride in less than ten days! I'd like to think that the program contributed to this monumental feat.

Become a Story Expert

This program represents my greatest passion: transforming authors into master storytellers. You want that confidence and presence of mind to know that you're no longer just a dreamer--you're a writer. An excellent writer who knows:

  • How to plug story holes
  • How to develop fully fleshed out characters
  • How to completely tell the story that is in their head

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Learn how to fix your story.

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