Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dramatica tips and tricks

A Q & A brainstorm with James Collins and Jack Rousseau - Jack answering my questions:

I don’t want to give too much away as I want you to read the first draft when done without being forewarned, but what would you put in here?
Without giving too much away, the overall problem is to do with, let’s say, the release of an evil presence in a town/environment. ‘Something bad gets out and needs to be sent back to where it came from’ kind of story.

I’ve got a set for the MC of:
Problem: Nonacceptance
Solution: Acceptance
Symptom: Evaluation
Response: Re-evaluation

And for the OS
Problem: Nonacceptance
Solution: Acceptance
Symptom: Deduction
Response: Induction

The PROBLEM and the SOLUTION are basically Overall Story Throughline elements. Whatever "word" Dramatica comes up with to describe the Overall Story Problem is the general essence of what is wrong or out of kilter, the thing that gives the overall characters their mission to solve.

And the Solution of course is the real answer to the problem - what actually needs to be done to solve the problem.

So first of all, you must consider PROBLEM / SOLUTION in the context of the Overall Story.

Now, the MAIN CHARACTER PROBLEM will be exactly the same. It's because the MAIN CHARACTER has this same PROBLEM in his throughline that he is the Main Character. So his Problem and his Solution will be closely connected to the Overall Story Problem and Solution.

This means that the PROBLEM will always be something that is wrong between the Main Character and his Environment. I say "between" because it's something the Main Character uniquely needs to sort out, and the Problem will be some kind of imbalance between the Main Character and the environment.

To give some simple examples, if the dam is about to burst, the Main Character's problem is either to stop the dam bursting, or to rescue all the people and/or things threatened by it. But that's where the Problem lies OUTSIDE the Main Character. But if the Main Character is making everyone's lives a misery because he can't get over the death of his wife, then he needs to solve something within himself and move on. The PROBLEM lies inside, but the effect is on the environment around him.

The Overall Characters can see the Problem and the Solution OBJECTIVELY because they are not the Main Character. They can see the MC needs to realise he has to act to save the dam. They can see he's the only person that can do it. Or they can see the MC needs to get over his wife's death and marry again.

But the Main Character cannot see this. He only has a SUBJECTIVE VIEW of the Problem. He will not be able to see the REAL PROBLEM and the REAL SOLUTION straight away - otherwise we'll have no story. He can't see he needs to fix the dam or rescue the people. He can't see he needs to marry and move on.

Instead, the Main Character focuses on SYMPTOM and RESPONSE. These are his take on the problem and Solution. >From his Subjective view. The Symptom is what the MC thinks is wrong. But it's not the Objective view. He's not correct in his assessment. The RESPONSE is what he thinks, Subjectively, is the right Solution. But it's not. By initially going for the Response, he draws out the story. He will finally come to realise that he needs to recognise the PROBLEM (rather than the SYMPTOM) and he needs to apply the SOLUTION (and not the RESPONSE).

That is his journey of discovery, if you like, his arc of character - moving from SYMPTOM/RESPONSE to PROBLEM/SOLUTION. And when the Main Character converges on the Problem/Solution, he brings the story to its climax and end.

Now I realise that still sounds all rather technical. But you need to consider all that in the context of the WORDS that Dramatica comes up with for the four things: Problem/Solution and Symptom/Response and then see how that inspires you in the context of your story.

The Overall Characters can be equally confused from their subjective perspective. They won't necessarily know what the real problem and solution are - although they might. But the Overall characters are quite likely to see that the MC is trying to treat the Symptom where he should be treating the Problem. And the Impact Character will see that especially. Which then becomes the focus for his Impact. The Impact Character will be trying to get the MC to realise the mistake (in a story where the Impact Character has the right answer = that is, a CHANGE story).