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Element Cause ↔ Effect

the specific outcome forced by a cause

Effect is the end product of an effort or series of efforts. One might argue its pros and cons, yet ignore how the Effect came to be in the first place. On the plus side, concentrating on Effect keeps the effort focused on the problem or goal. On the minus side, it can lead to beating a dead horse. Failure may follow if one puts all one's efforts into dealing with the Effect while ignoring the cause. Should a mayor add to the police force to battle crime or improve social services?

syn. result, consequence, outcome, culmination, the ensuing


Structural Term

the highest level of detail that can be addressed when viewing a story's problem

There are 64 elements in each class. The same 64 elements appear in every class, arranged differently by position. Elements represent the most refined and highly detailed approaches and attitudes in the attempt to solve the story's problem. Primarily, they are the building blocks of the characters. To fully argue the thematic message, it must be addressed from all possible directions. This is accomplished by making sure that all 64 elements are divided among a story's Overall (Objective) characters. If an element is not used it will leave a hole in the logic or emotion of the story. If one is used more than once, it will obscure the point by showing it in two different incarnations. The reason that elements are repeated from class to class is that they represent the heart of the problem. When all else is stripped away, the problem must be evaluated by these same building blocks no matter where it was approached from. The reason that the elements are arranged differently from class to class is that the way they are grouped depends upon the direction from which the story approaches them. When the story is approached from a given class, it is like looking at the problem from a particular direction. All the same elements are seen, but from a different point of view.


Archetype Reason ↔ Emotion

an Archetype who represents the motivations of Feeling and Uncontrolled

The Emotional Archetypal Character reacts passionately to turns of events without considering the consequences or best course to achieve his purpose. Frequently portrayed as a "screamer" or "big dumb ox" this character is really not stupid. He actually represents feeling and frenzy. So his nature is to feel deeply about issues but be unable to focus that heartfelt intensity in any useful direction. Rather, he tends to go off the deep end and thrash out aimlessly, frequently to the detriment of himself and those around them. Such a character can prove to be a Trojan horse by storytelling him into the enemy's camp where he will almost certainly wreak havoc.


Dramatica Term

identification of the audience with the Main Character

Empathy describes the complete identification of the audience with the Main Character such that the audience sees the story through his eyes.


Element Unending ↔ Ending

coming to a conclusion

The Ending characteristic causes a character to look toward the conclusion in every process or situation. He may wish to prevent it or to hasten it, but his primary concern is when it's going to be over. A very useful trait in dealing with steps or phases. Not very useful if the process or situation is really unending. Since the character representing the Ending characteristic assumes that everything must end sooner or later, he cannot accept that some things never end. Some relationships will last a lifetime, come what may. But if one partner believes it can end, he will always worry, looking for signs of its demise. If he was an Ending person, Prometheus was sorely mistaken. (Weeds grow back and Rust never sleeps!)

syn. conclusion, finish, completion, termination, close


Variation Wisdom ↔ Enlightenment

an understanding that transcends knowledge

Not all meaning comes from experience. The mind has the ability to synthesize abstract truth that has not been or cannot be observed. When a character is able to come to an understanding of the whole that exceeds the sum of the observed parts, he is said to be Enlightened. A truly refined thematic conflict can be explored in the relationship between the practical Wisdom born of great experience and the aesthetic Enlightenment born of great insight.

syn. insight, illumination, intuitive discernment, transcendent comprehension


Element Inequity ↔ Equity

a balance, fairness, or stability

Equity is balance. The Equity characteristic makes a character want everything to work out fair and square. He will spend his time trying to maintain balance and will judge the acceptability of a situation by its apparent equilibrium. On the downside, he may not realize that without inequity there is no motivation and hence no progress. Also, there may not be enough to go around. By "robbing Peter to pay Paul" he might be moving resources back and forth in a way that stresses the whole system which might crumble from the strain.

syn. balance, fairness, parity, equilibrium, level, even


Overview Appreciation

the primary dramatic feel of a story

A story can be appreciated as the interaction of dynamics that converge at the climax. From this point of view, the feel of the dramatic tension can be defined. Dramatic tension is created between the direction the Main Character is growing compared to the author's value judgment of that growth. A Change Main Character will either grow out of something or grow into something. In the first case, he possesses a characteristic that he will let go. In the second case, he adds a new characteristic to his make-up. But is he correct in stopping something he has been doing or starting to do something new? This is determined by the author's value judgment of Good or Bad. When a Main Character Stops doing something Bad, that is positive. When a Main Character Starts doing something Good, that also is positive. However, when a Main Character Starts doing something Bad or Stops doing something Good, these are negative. Positive and Negative affect where the audience places its focus on the story. In a Positive story, the focus is on the effort to find the solution. In a Negative story, the focus is on the effort to escape the problem.


Element Reevaluation ↔ Evaluation

an appraisal of a situation and/or circumstances

Evaluation is the meaning a character finds in a situation or circumstances. Rather than just grappling with the bits and pieces, the character creates an understanding of how all the parts fit together. This gives him a better grasp of how to deal with the issue. The danger is that once he has Evaluated, the situation or circumstances change, yet he is still using the old evaluation as a unit of measure. Meanings change over time and need to be updated to maintain accuracy.

syn. appraisal, analysis, assessment, survey, examination


Variation Suspicion ↔ Evidence

information supporting a belief

Evidence is information one gathers to develop an understanding about something. When looking at Evidence, a character does not necessarily have to know exactly what he is looking for, just that the information pertains to the nature of what he is trying to learn about. As a result, he tends to examine the Evidence only in terms of whether or not it is something that falls into a predetermined category. Therefore, errors can occur when the Evidence (although it pertains to the subject of interest) actually holds much more information in another area. This can lead a character to "not see the forest for the trees" because he is looking at the small picture and ignoring the big one. For example, in a mystery a detective may be looking for Evidence of who committed a murder, when in truth the victim died of natural causes which is clearly indicated if the detective had only thought to look for that.

syn. proof, indicator, supporting information, corroborating facts, grounds for belief, substantiation


Element Determination ↔ Expectation

a conclusion as to the eventual effect of a particular cause

Expectation is the projection of what one expects to find at the end of a path. Expectations allow one to anticipate and make plans for both rewards and troubles. However, if the character representing Expectation does not occasionally question the basis of his projections, he may find the world has turned under his feet.

syn. anticipated results, eventual outcome, presumed prospects, probable denouement, likely consequences


Variation Need ↔ Expediency

most efficient course considering repercussions

It is important not to consider Expediency as only meaning efficiency. In terms of story, Expediency describes what a character feels he must do or be in order to avoid potential consequences. These consequences can come from his environment, in the form of disapproval by others, or from within in the form of self-recrimination. If the perceived consequences are internal, Expediency feels like a "moral" pressure but is really the emotional retribution one flails against oneself for not living up to one's own self-image. If they are external, Expediency feels like peer pressure or a threat to social standing. Expediency is as important an emotional motivation as Need is a motivator of reason. Since Expediency is based on avoiding future punishments or disappointments that may or may not be real, dramatic tension can be easily created between the subjective and objective views. A way to think of Expediency is that when it pops up, characters who are being influenced by it will think of it in terms of "Should." "I should really do this, even though I may not want to."

syn. advisability, convenience, prudent efficiency


Variation Skill ↔ Experience

the gaining of familiarity

Experience refers to the cumulative effect of observing or participating in mental or physical activities until they become familiar. However, just because the activities become second nature does not mean a character is necessarily good at them. To excel, a character needs both Experience AND the innate Skills that can be honed by that experience. If either is lacking or deficient, the character's real ability will be less than its Experiential potential.

syn. familiarization, level of practice, seasoning, accumulated feelings, accumulated dealings with