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Impulsive Responses


immediate responses

Built into the mind is an instinctual base of reactions and attitudes that cannot be altered but merely compensated for. When a story's problem revolves around the unsuitability of someone's essential nature to a given situation or environment, the central issue concerns Impulsive Responses. The solution lies in the character conditioning himself to either hold his tendencies in check or develop methods of enhancing areas in which he is naturally weak in reason, ability, emotion, or intellect.

syn. unthinking responses, immediate responses, impulse, impulsive response, instinctive response, innate response, reflex


Element Protection ↔ Inaction

taking no action as a means of response

Inaction does not mean simply sitting still. The Inactive characteristic might choose to allow a course of action by not interfering. Or it might refuse to move out of harm's way, thereby forming a resistance to the progress that drives the harm. Both of these are efficient tools for altering the course of an interaction. However, the Inactive characteristic may also drag its feet in all areas and form a resistance to both good and bad things so that its influence simply hinders everything but changes nothing.

syn. passive reaction, inactive response, achieve through not doing


Element Deduction ↔ Induction

a means of determining possibility

Induction is the process of thought that determines where an unbroken line of causal relationships leads. The purpose is to see if it is possible that something connects to something else. The character containing the Inductive characteristic has an advantage in taking seemingly unrelated facts and putting them in an order that establishes a potential causal relationship. This allows him to arrive at conclusions that "limit in" something as a possibility. The drawback is that the conclusion only illustrates one possibility out of an unknown number of possibilities. Unlike deduction, Induction does not rule out competing theories until only one remains. Rather, Induction simply determines that a particular theory is not ruled out. Problems occur when it is assumed that simply because a causal relationship might exist that it does exist. This leads to blaming and holding responsible both people and situations that were not actually the real cause. Only if all possible Inductions are compared can the likelihood of any single one be determined.

syn. postulate, predicate, conjecture, infer, hypothesize, determine possibility


Element Equity ↔ Inequity

an unbalance, unfairness, or lack or stability

When a character focuses on Inequity he is evaluating in terms of what is wrong or unfair with a situation. No matter how much is working right or how much is good, it is the part that is out of balance that occupies his attention. A character with this trait will spot trouble before anyone else, but he will also never be satisfied unless absolutely everything is worked out.

syn. imbalance, unfair, disparity, unequal, uneven, disproportionate



a continuation of a state or process

Inertia is a tendency to maintain the status quo. That which is moving wants to keep moving. That which is at rest wants to stay at rest. An Inertia-oriented character concerns himself with keeping things on an even keel. He tries to avoid or prevent anything that rocks the boat. He also does not adapt well to change.

syn. tendency to continue, a change resistant pattern, continuation, following an established direction

Influence Character

Dramatica Term

the character that forces the Main Character to face his personal problem

Every Main Character has a single Influence Character that forces him to face his personal problems. From the Main Character's point of view, the Influence Character may seem to be blocking the road to the solution of the Main Character's personal problem, or he may seem to be trying to knock the Main Character off the road to the solution. In a more objective view, the Influence Character functions to block the Main Character from sweeping his personal problem under the carpet, forcing the Main Character to address it directly. In every act, a story problem is introduced that requires the Main Character to expose his personal problem in order to solve the story problem. It is the Influence Character that creates the most personal tension for the Main Character. Frequently, the Main Character is chosen by the author to be the Protagonist as well, and often the Influence Character function is combined with the Guardian or the Contagonist. In this way, they each do double duty as prime movers of both the Overall (Objective) and Relationship Throughline concerns of the story. This arrangement is not essential, however, and in many cases it is prudent to assign the Main and Impact Character roles to characters other than the Protagonist and Guardian/Contagonist in order to clearly explore the relationship between the Overall and Relationship problems of the story.

Influence Character Approach

Character Dynamic

the Influence Character's preferred method of general problem solving

By temperament, Influence Characters (like each of us) have a preferential method of approaching problems. Some would rather work things out externally, others would rather work things out internally. There is nothing intrinsically right or wrong with either approach, yet it does affect how one will respond to problems. Choosing "Do-er" or "Be-er" does not prevent a Influence Character from using either approach, but merely defines the way he is likely to first approach a problem, using the other method only if the first one fails.

Influence Character Benchmark


the standard against which the Influence Character's concern is measured

The way of telling how much the Influence Character is dealing with the issues at stake for him in the story is by choosing an item in the story and using it as a measuring stick. This can be subtle or obvious, illustrated perhaps by the number of empty beer cans next to an alcoholic's bed, the severity of a facial tick, or the amount of perfume a character puts on. How ever it is illustrated, it needs to be there to give both the audience and the Influence Character some way of judging how deep his concern is and how far along in the story he is.

Influence Character Concern


the area of the Influence Character's cares, interests, or goals

The Inlfuence Character will be interested in achieving some degree of growth or control over things described by this appreciation. This could be in terms of concrete or abstract things, depending partly on the Influence Character's Domain and partly on the twist the author wants to put on that Domain.

Influence Character Critical Flaw


the item that undermines the Influence Character's efforts

The Influence Character's Critical Flaw undermines his effectiveness against the Main Character in general, but especially in regards to his Unique Ability. The Influence Character in any story has a Unique Ability which makes him uniquely qualified to thwart the Main Character. But in his character as well is a Critical Flaw which prevents him from just totally overwhelming the Main Character. This is again a trait which is unique to this particular character.

Influence Character Issue


the nature of the Influence Character's efforts

An Influence Character's Issue captures the essence of what that character will represent in the story. The nature of the things he does, intends to do, and effectively means to the passionate argument of the story are all linked in this appreciation.

Influence Character Mental Sex

Character Dynamic

a determination of the Influence Character's mental operating system

Much of what we are as individuals is learned behavior. Yet, the basic operating system of the mind is cast biologically before birth. Talents, intellectual capacity, instincts - all of these are not learned, but inherited. Among these traits are those specific to females and others specific to males. To be sure, we can go a long way toward balancing out those traits, yet that does not eliminate them nor diminish their impact. In dealing with the psychology of a Influence Character, it is essential to understand upon which foundation his experience rests.

Influence Character Problem


the source of the Influence Character's drive

In every Influence Character there exists some inequity that is driving him. If the Influence Character Changes something in himself in response to the Main Character's Steadfastness, it is this item, his Problem, which he changes by exchanging it for his Solution. If the Influence Character is Steadfast, though, then he holds onto his problem, deepening his resolve to keep the same motivations at the end of the story as he had when he began the story.

Influence Character Problem Solving Style

Character Dynamic

a determination of the Influence Character's mental operating system

Much of what we are as individuals is learned behavior. Yet, the basic operating system of the mind is cast biologically before birth. Talents, intellectual capacity, instincts - all of these are not learned, but inherited. Among these traits are those specific to females and others specific to males. To be sure, we can go a long way toward balancing out those traits, yet that does not eliminate them nor diminish their impact. In dealing with the psychology of a Influence Character, it is essential to understand upon which foundation his experience rests.

Influence Character Response


the direction of the Influence Character's efforts

An Influence Character can never be sure if what he believes to be the source of his problem really is the source of his problem. Regardless, based on his way of seeing things, he will determine a potential solution or response by which he hopes to find the solution. The dramatic unit that describes what an Influence Character believes is the path to a solution is his Response.

Influence Character Solution


what is needed to truly satisfy the Influence Character's motivation

The Solution Element is the "flip side" of the Problem Element. For the Influence Character, it is the element that would alleviate the Influence Character's drive which his Problem Element supplies. It is not necessarily applied during a story, but it exists in every story nevertheless.

Influence Character Symptom


where the Influence Character's attention is most directed

The Influence Character concentrates his attention where he thinks his problem lies. Just as in the Main Character, an inequity exists in the Influence Character between himself and his environment which is driving him. The actual nature of this inequity is described by the Influence Character Problem Element. The nature of what is required to restore balance is described by the Influence Character Solution Element. From the subjective view afforded to the Influence Character though, the inequity does not appear to be between himself and the Environment but wholly in one or the other. The Symptom Element describes the nature of how the problem appears to the Influence Character from his subjective point of view. Symptom really describes the effects of the Influence Character Problem element, but because the Problem element is on the level of his own motivations, Influence Characters can never see their actual problems without solving them.

Influence Character Throughline

Dramatica Term

the dramatic progression which builds the Influence Character's pressure on the Main Character to change

The Influence Character is defined by its relationship to the Main Character. The Main Character represents the audience's position in the story which, in a sense, represents our sense of self within our own minds. When we consider changing our outlook in regard to a particular issue, we entertain an alternative viewpoint which we examine thoroughly before either adopting or rejecting. The Influence Character represents that alternative point of view. In stories, as in our own minds, this alternative view is seen from where we are positioned currently. After all, when it comes to changing something about who we are, we don't just make that change without first trying to understand what kind of person we would become and trying to anticipate how it might affect our situation. Over the course of the story, as the Main Character grows, the Influence Character must keep pace to provide alternative perspectives on all the key experiences the Main Character encounters. In this way, the best possible argument for adopting the new viewpoint is made, and the current and alternative paradigms can be judged fully against each other. This is how we arrive within ourselves to a point of change, and how the Influence Character drives the Main Character to the same point. For the author, the Influence Character Throughline is the progression through all of the issues which come up while providing alternative perspectives to the Main Character's currently held views. For an audience, the Influence Character Throughline simply describes the kinds of activities and concerns addressed by the Influence Character as he moves through the plot. The broadest description of the Influence Character's Influence in a specific story -- Everything that emanates from what the Influence Character does and represents which primarily relates to his Influence alone, as opposed to specific relationships he has with other characters, can be said to be part of the Influence Character Domain. There are four different Domains in the structure of any story, represented by the combination of each of the four Classes with each of the four throughlines the Overall Story Throughline, the Relationship Story Throughline, the Main Character Throughline, and the Influence Character Throughline. The Influence Character Throughline describes, in the broadest single term, what the Influence Character represents and the area in which the Influence Character operates within the story.

Influence Character Unique Ability


the item that makes the Influence Character uniquely able to thwart the Main Character

The reason the Influence Character is able to carry half of the Relationship Story is his unique suitability to take the opposite position to the Main Character on the Crucial Element of the story. The Influence Character Unique Ability gives the Influence Character a power which no one else in the story has to be able to affect the Main Character. The nature of this power is what is described by this appreciation.



the kind of item that serves to impede the throughline's progress (either Overall Story or Relationship Story throughlines)

The throughline Inhibitor is what prevents the throughline from just rushing full speed to the solution. It is like a brake mechanism which can be applied as the author pleases. The introduction of this item always slows the progress of the throughline. It works as the antidote to the throughline's Catalyst.

Innermost Desires

Type Impulsive Responses ↔ Innermost Desires

basic drives and desires

Innermost Desires describe the essential feelings that form the foundation of character. These feelings are so basic that a character is often not aware of what they truly are. When the Innermost Desires are involved, a character is moved right to the fiber of his being.

syn. libido, id, basic motivations, basic drives, anima


Variation Conditioning ↔ Instinct

intrinsic unconditioned responses

Instinct describes those built-in responses to situations and circumstances that are not learned, yet drive one to comply with their urges. How much sway they have over an individual depends both upon the nature of the instinct and the intensity of conditioning against the instinct that he has experienced by accident, design, or choice. When one acts or responds according to instinct, there is no conscious consideration beforehand. Only after the fact does the consciousness become aware that an instinct has been triggered. Nonetheless, one can learn to inhibit instinctual commands until the consciousness has the opportunity to consider the propriety of conforming to it.

syn. involuntary drive, innate impulse, unconditioned response, automatic response, unconditioned motivation


Variation Prediction ↔ Interdiction

an effort to change a pre-determined course

Interdiction is the effort to change the course of one's destiny. Once a character determines that his destiny is pulling him toward an undesirable fate, he tries to Interdict and thereby avoid the fate. But has he correctly identified the course of his destiny or in actuality is what he sees as Interdiction is just another pre-destined step toward his fate?

syn. altering the future, interfering with the predetermined, hindering the inevitable, escaping the predestined


Variation Senses ↔ Interpretation

determination of possible meaning

Once an observation is made, its meaning must be Interpreted by the mind. Even if seen exactly as it happened, the forces or intents behind what is seen are often misconstrued. Stories revolving around eye witness accounts frequently employ Interpretation (and its Dynamic Partner, Senses) to great dramatic advantage.

syn. construe, rendition, rendering meaning, elucidate, translating meaning

Intuitive Problem Solving Style

Character Dynamic

the Main Character uses intuitive problem solving techniques

A choice of intuitive creates a Main Character whose psychology is based on assessing balance. An intuitive Main Character resolves inequities by comparing surpluses to deficiencies. The manner employed in resolving the inequity will involve creating a surplus where a surplus is desired, creating a deficiency where a deficiency is desired, creating a surplus so a deficiency is felt elsewhere, creating a deficiency so a surplus will be felt elsewhere. Through the application of one's own force, hills and valleys can be created and filled either to directly address the inequity or to create a change in the flow of energies that will ultimately come together in a new hill or disperse creating a new valley. These are the four primary inequity resolving techniques of an intuitive character. It is important to note that these techniques are applied both to others and to oneself. Either way, manipulating surplus and deficiency describes the approach. When selecting intuitive or logical, typically the choice is as simple as deciding if you want to tell a story about a man or a woman. But there is another consideration that is being employed with growing frequency in modern stories -- putting the psyche of one sex into the skin of another. This does not refer only to the "sex change" comedies but also to many action stories with female Main Characters (e.g. Aliens) and many decision stories with male Main Characters (Prince of Tides). When an author writes a part for a woman, he/she would intuitively create a female psyche for that character. Yet by simply changing the name of the character from Mary to Joe and shifting the appropriate gender terms, the character would ostensibly become a man. But that man would not seem like a man. Even if all the specific feminine dialogue were changed, even if all the culturally dictated manifestations were altered, the underlying psyche of the character would have a female bias rather than a male bias. Sometimes stereotypes are propagated by what an audience expects to see which filters the message and dilutes the truth. By placing a female psyche in a male character, preconceptions no longer prevent the message from being heard. The word of warning is that this technique can make a Main Character seem "odd" in some hard to define way to your audience. So although the message may fare better, empathy between your audience and your Main Character may not.


Structural Term

the other pair in a pair of items

Anytime a pair of items is being considered, each item in the pair is referred to as the INVERSE of the other.


Variation Doubt ↔ Investigation

gathering evidence to resolve questions of validity

Investigation is a pro-active word for it describes a character who makes an effort to seek out evidence. Obviously this usually tends to bring one closer to a conclusion sooner than without the effort. But Investigation can cause trouble since the character must pre-determine where to look. This leads to a meandering path through the evidence that may miss whole pockets of essential information. Sometimes a single missed piece can flip the entire conclusion 180 degrees. So Investigating to one's satisfaction depends on random success and the limits of one's tenacity, not necessarily on learning what the whole picture is.

syn. inquiry, research, probe, sleuthing, delving, query



the thematic focus or topic of the Throughline being explored

Each of the four Throughlines: Overall Story, Relationship Story, Main Character, and Impact Character, have a thematic topic which is described by its Issue. The Overall Story Issue, for example, provides a value standard for judging the Overall Story Characters' efforts in a story. Whatever kinds of things are done by the Overall Story Characters in relation to the Story Goal can be said to be linked thematically by this particular item.


Structural Term

a number of units grouped into a larger entity

Sometimes it becomes convenient to group a number of units of similar nature together and treat the group as if it were a single unit itself. When units are grouped together in this manner the larger entity is referred to as an item.