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3 days ago

55. How to Outline Your Story with the Plot Sequence Report

A great story employs its own unique approach to narrative structure. The Plot Sequence Report found in Dramatica grants writers an insight into their story’s foundation.

Some contend that every story is the same—that the same set of story beats or mythical elements show up every time. The truth is the structure of every story is based upon the Author’s intent: what he or she is trying to communicate to their Audience. The Dramatica theory of story, and the Plot Sequence found within, help writers assess the elements needed—and in what order—to effectively and deliberately broadcast what they feel deep inside. This podcast illuminates an approach towards using this report and elements of Dramatica to quickly develop your story’s structure.

Deliberate Storytelling is a practice whereby the Author creates with intent and purpose. Collaborate with a story expert today and start down the path towards finally writing and finishing your story.

Show Notes & Links

Narrative First theme by Alex Hull. Hear more on his Soundcloud, Operation Solace


Great Stories

More Story Structure & Story Analysis

3 days ago

The silence these past two weeks?

I’ve been busy building something that I know you’re going to love.

Inspired by years of working with writers, directors, and producers to create the very best versions of their stories, I developed a new tool I know you’re going to want to have when you write your next great story.

Something big is on its way…

It all begins next week!

— Jim from Narrative First

2 weeks ago

The Same Story: Aliens and Blade Runner: 2049

While some maintain that all stories carry the same structure (they don’t), these two films actually do share the same exact storyform.

After answering questions about the difference between the Past and Memory and the right way to think of Signposts, this episode dives into a Dramatica analysis of DeNiro’s A Bronx Tale. Unique in its structure, the storyform explains its appeal to female audiences. Both Aliens and Blade Runner: 2049 share the same exact storyform—a rare, but possible scenario, wherein Authors seek to explore a similar approach to resolving problems.

Deliberate Storytelling is a practice whereby the Author creates with intent and purpose. Collaborate with a story expert today and start down the path towards finally writing and finishing your story.

Show Notes & Links

Narrative First theme by Alex Hull. Hear more on his Soundcloud, Operation Solace

2 weeks ago

The second season of Stranger Things pays homage to James Cameron’s Aliens more than once. Peppering episodes with familiar imagery and lines straight from the movie, the Netflix series provides ample evidence of the film’s impact on movie and television culture. No surprise—the film is often touted as the screenplay to read for writers new to the craft. But is the popularity for the Space Marine thriller based on witty and memorable dialogue—or is there something more lying underneath the surface?

A Complete Story

A complete narrative represents a single approach towards resolving an inequity. To encapsulate all the different ways one can solve an inequity, the construct of “a story” presents four different perspectives on this same imbalance. Conflict plays out differently depending on the point-of-view you take and therefore, it’s essential that we see everything. Matching the four different ways we see the world and can appreciate differences, these Four Throughlines ensure integrity of the presentation and a completeness of the Author’s argument.

The Main Character Throughline grants us the first-person personal point-of-view of the inequity. The Influence Character Throughline develops contrast with this initial view by gifting us a perspective on conflict as seen from the other side.

The Overall Story Throughline steps outside and away from the familiar trappings of a singular perspective to offer us a third-person dispassionate point-of-view. Objective and universal, this aspect harmonizes with the Main Character Throughline to give a sense of what it feels like to be both within, and without, of a problem.

Finally, the Relationship Story Throughline bridges the chasm between plural objective and singular subjective to give us that rare—yet, as equally important—plural perspective. Our problems sit separately from my problems or your problems or even their problems.

Combined, these Four Throughlines develop a greater appreciation of the various methods by which we solve and resolve the inequities in our lives.

Why Aliens

On the surface, Aliens tells the story of Space Marines who set out to discover what happened to a group of hapless colonists on LV426. This Overall Story Throughline perspective tells of the Physical nature of the conflict between man and alien: bloody skirmishes, strategic invasions, and mano y mano face-offs shape the story’s central inequity as seen from afar.

Deep down, the film tells us more.

The Director’s Cut of Aliens offers vital insights into Ripley’s personal Main Character Throughline. Lost in space, frozen and unaware for decades, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awakes to find she outlives her only daughter. The guilt and regret she feels for missing the chance to mother her baby define a Universal reality—you can’t change the past. Her struggle to redefine her place in this new arrangement of physical reality becomes our struggle as we empathize with her plight.

The Throughlines of *Aliens*

Along comes Newt (Carrie Henn)—a prime opportunity for Ripley to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship to replace the one she lost. The Relationship Story Throughline, however, encompasses both poles of an emotional bond—not merely the connection as seen from one character. In Aliens, the mother/daughter relationship finds Psychological terror as its source of conflict and fitting into each other’s lives as its point of resolution. Turning dreams into nightmares and imagining a scenario where they both live to support and encourage one another details the aspirations of their bond. In the end, Newt leaps into Ripley’s arms and cries out “Mommy”—an emotional release for both child and parent.

Three Throughlines does not a story make, and in Aliens, Newt’s confrontational Mindset rounds out our look at conflict. As Influence Character, Newt presents an alternate approach towards solving the story’s problem. Assured and self-reliant, Newt knows what to expect—refusing to give in to any delusions of being rescued or protected. The abandonment she feels from the loss of her parents harmonizes with Ripley’s sense of abandoning her child; Newt’s knowing that she must be the one to take care of herself motivates Ripley to take on the same point-of-view.

Something More

“Get away from her, you Bitch!”

Ripley’s heartfelt and deeply-held conviction resolves both the Main Character and Overall Story Throughlines and leads to a satisfactory resolution of the story’s primary inequity. More than merely a great line, Ripley’s change of perspective represents the final step in the process of conflict resolution that sits at the heart of every great story.

“Stay frosty,” Corporal Hicks says while addressing his strung-out crew; good advice for them and good advice for those of us seeking to learn the why some stories last decades after their initial release.

Oct 25

A guy stuck in a well, The Sixth Sense, and Blade Runner:2049 top the list for this week’s in-depth story structure podcast. Everything from inequities and perspectives to Throughlines and context, this episode explains the best way to find the most accurate storyform for any narrative.

Deliberate Storytelling is a practice whereby the Author creates with intent and purpose. Collaborate with a story expert today and start down the path towards finally writing and finishing your story.

Show Notes & Links

Narrative First theme by Alex Hull. Hear more on his Soundcloud, Operation Solace

Oct 19

A functioning narrative is an artifice—a construct for understanding the means by which we resolve an inequity within a set of contexts. Four different perspectives define this set:

  • I
  • You
  • We
  • They

The net result of these four perspectives all focused on a single inequity is a singular grand context. An Author matches perspective to Throughline to grant the Audience easy access to these point-of-views:

  • Main Character Throughline == I perspective
  • Influence Character Throughline == You perspective
  • Relationship Story Throughline == We perspective
  • Overall Story Throughline == They perspective

The purpose of these Throughlines, therefore, is to offer different ways to see the same inequity. The storyform that develops from these perspectives presents a single approach towards resolving that fundamental inequity.

In Blade Runner:2049, that inequity is birth.

Defining the Message

In Blade Runner:2049 bioengineered humans called replicants integrate with “real” humans. Servants or slaves, they answer the call of their programming—dutifully participating in a wide range of problematic activities as soulless robots. The revelation of a miracle—of a child born to a replicant—sparks the inequity of the narrative. The Overall Story Throughline—the perspective that sees this inequity from a They point-of-view—observes the Physics of the conflict. The investigation and the attempt to stop the coming rebellion ignites the inquiry into and apprehension of this missing child.

K (Ryan Gosling), a newer model replicant, sees the inequity in a different light. From his Main Character Throughline perspective, the conflict appears fixed and external. The Universe brought to life a Chosen One, and K finds ample evidence that he fits this epic calling. Was I born or manufactured? The answer forms a destiny from which he cannot escape.

The Throughlines of *Blade Runner: 2049*

As a function of her Influence Character Throughline perspective, holographic girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas) challenges K to think differently. From her You perspective, the single inequity of Blade Runner: 2049 appears both fixed and internal in nature. It doesn’t matter what you are; it only matters what you know to be true. While sharing the same quality of fixed with K’s Main Character, Joi’s version of the conflict stems from within—from Mind. Deckard (Harrison Ford) reinforces this point-of-view towards the end of the narrative.

With three different perspectives on this single inequity accounted for, only one remains. The Relationship Story Throughline perspective sees the central inequity as a condition of problematic Psychology. Integration of the Overall Story brings violence and slavery; integration within the Relationship requires subtle manipulation of our concept of each other. How do We integrate into each other’s lives when our essential nature makes the act virtually impossible? The constant adaptation to suit the needs of the other brings us closer together—while at the same time, deepening our divide.

A Better Understanding

With a better understanding of the inequity as seen from these four different perspectives, an appreciation of a single approach towards resolution rings clear. Instead of worrying about what you really are, be what they need you to be. In return, you receive a measure of peace—for yourself, and for the countless others waiting for the capability to make themselves heard.

Oct 18

Handling Subplots with the Dramatica Storyform

In this episode, I wrap up the Dramatica Users Group analysis of Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book and then relate some helpful tips when it comes to weaving subplots into your narrative. In addition, I dive into #storytelling and talk a bit about “narrative fidelity”. Lastly, the David Fincher thriller se7en receives the Dramatica analysis treatment.

Deliberate Storytelling is a practice whereby the Author creates with intent and purpose. Collaborate with a story expert today and start down the path towards finally writing and finishing your story.

Show Notes & Links

Narrative First theme by Alex Hull. Hear more on his Soundcloud, Operation Solace


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