Writer’s Block: Story Structure Part 5 – Dramatica

Dramatica Theory of Story was developed over a 14 year period by Chris Huntley. It theorizes why stories exist and examines both the processes and dramatic touch points need for good storytelling. Mostly, Dramatica provides two ways of seeing the same thing, with the main character being challenged in how they specifically see that thing and then determine if they will stick to their guns or change their opinion. It presents this concept as a well thought out argument where all sides must be presented and then the main character represents the decision as to which is ultimately the correct perspective.

The Story Mind

The Story Mind exemplifies this concept. It states that a story is basically a model of the mind’s problem solving process and that to examine any issue an author must examine all sides of the concept to make the best possible argument that their main character is choosing the correct path. It believes that leaving out any side of an argument creates plot holes or inconsistencies within your story.

Overall Story Throughline

This is the dispassionate view of the way the story unfolds, parallel to the idea of a plot. It concentrates on the larger actions within the story without focusing on individual struggles happening within the story. It is parallel to laying out the theme of the story and its plot, the larger concept being examined by the story itself.

Main Character Throughline

This is the personal view of the way the story unfolds, providing an up close and intimate look at that way the plot impacts an individual. It allows the reader to identify with the main character as we encounter the Overall Story Throughline through their specific experiences. It is the way in which the theme is presented in a manner that is more easily identifiable as relevant to the reader.

Influence and Impact Character Throughline

Not to be confused with the antagonist within the story, the influence character is the one which presents the alternative path for the main character, forcing a choice on them. The influence character introduces the concept of the impact character.

The impact character is the embodiment of the alternative path and the advocate for leaving the original path to pursue the resolution of the story in a different manner.

Relationship Story Throughline

This is the personal view of how the two concepts – the two different approaches or paths to a solution or a way of being – interact. It is embodied by the main character and the influence character approaching one another in a kind of game of chicken – each hoping the other will give way. This personal experience echoes the larger concept being examined by the theme of the book via the Overall Story Throughline.

Summary

Overall, the four Throughlines take the audience through the examination of a concept by stating it may look one way to you but a different way to another and begs the question, which perspective is most appropriate given the central problem of the story.

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