what has already happened
The past is not unchanging. Often we learn new things which change our understanding of what past events truly meant and create new appreciations of how things really fit together. A story that focuses on the Past may be much more than a documentation of what happened. Frequently it is a re-evaluation of the meaning of what has occurred that can lead to changing one's understanding of what is happening in the present or will eventually happen in the future.
syn. history, what has happened, former times, retrospective
the way things seem to be
Perception is a point of view on reality. In truth, we cannot truly get beyond perception in our understanding of our world. A character that represents Perception is more concerned with the way things seem than what it is. Therefore he can be caught off-guard by anything that is not what it seems.
syn. appearance, how things seem to be, discernment, a particular reading of things, a point of view on reality, a way of seeing
one's ability based on what is allowed
Permission means Ability limited by restrictions. These constraints may be self imposed or imposed by others. When a Character considers what he can or cannot do, he is not assessing his ability but the limitations to his ability. When one worries about the consequences born of disapproval or self-loathing, one halts for the lack of Permission. The frustration of a character suffering a vice-grip on his ability may eventually erupt in an explosive reaction if the noose gets too tight.
syn. constrained ability, limited capability, restricted capacity, hindered performance, allowed limitations, restrained utility
the combination of one of the four viewpoints with one of the four Classes
To complete the creation of one of the four perspectives (or Throughlines) for any particular story, a viewpoint must be matched to a Class so that the place which the perspective is looking from is defined and the nature of the perspective is defined. The four viewpoints include the Overall Story, the Relationship Story, the Main Character, and the Impact Character. Situation (Universe), Activities (Physics), Manipulation (Psychology), and Fixed Attitudes (Mind) are the four Classes which represent the four broadest classifications of story issues. In every complete story, each viewpoints is assigned one Class, creating four Perspectives. Only by fully exploring all four Perspectives can a Grand Argument Story be fully developed.
The Physics Class is one of action. Whereas the Universe Class describes a fixed situation, Physics is a Class of dynamics. Situations evolve, develop, and change. Activities are engaged in and endeavors undertaken.
syn. an activity, an enterprise, an initiative, an endeavor, an operation
- Playing a Role
temporarily adopting a lifestyle
For purposes of story, Playing a Role is meant to describe the condition of existing in a certain manner. This does not mean that whomever or whatever is being a particular way is truly of that nature to the core. In fact, it may be put on, as an act or to deceive. However, as long as there is nothing more or less to the functioning of person or thing, it can be said to "be" what it appears to be. Stories often focus on someone who wants to "Play a Role" without actually "becoming" it. The important difference is that to "Play a Role" requires that all the elements of what one wants to be are present in oneself. To "change one's nature" requires that there are no elements in oneself that are not in that which one wants to become.
syn. pretending, appearing, acting like, seeming as, fulfilling a role
- Plot Dynamics
dramatic potentials which determine the plot's Driver, Limit, Outcome, and Judgment
When trying to describe a plot, many authors simply relate the order in which events occur. In fact, the order in which the events are presented to an audience and the order in which they actually occurred for the characters in the story are often quite different. Dramatica defines plot as the internal logic or sequence of events in a story. The order in which events are presented is referred to as Storyweaving. Putting Storyweaving aside, the actual order of events is greatly influenced by four principal forces. These Plot Dynamics determine something about what is pushing the plot forward (Driver), how far it can go (Limit), where it ends up (Outcome) and what it all meant (Judgment). By making choices about the kind of Driver (Action or Decision), the kind of Limit (Timelock or Optionlock), the kind of Outcome (Success or Failure), and the kind of Judgment (Good or Bad), an author can shape the course of a plot and the events that will occur within it.
- Positive Feel
the objective characters in the story are closing in on the problem
An author can pass judgment on the appropriateness of a Main Character's approach to the problem. When a Main Character's approach is deemed proper, the audience hopes for him to remain steadfast in that approach and to succeed. Regardless of whether he actually succeeds or fails, if he remains steadfast he wins a moral victory and the audience feels the story is positive. When the approach is deemed improper, the audience hopes for him to change. Whether or not the Main Character succeeds, if he changes from an improper approach to a proper one he also win a moral victory and the story feels Positive.
- Positive versus Negative
evaluations of how a story feels during its course toward the outcome
Positive and Negative are not evaluations of the ultimate outcome of a story, but evaluations of how the story feels during its course toward the outcome. Does the story feel like it is drawing closer to a satisfying and fulfilling conclusion or farther away from an unsatisfying, unfulfilling conclusion? Then it is positive. Does the story feel like it is drawing closer to an unsatisfying and unfulfilling conclusion or farther away from a satisfying, fulfilling conclusion? Then it is negative. Any given story will have either a positive or negative feel to it. This is caused by a combination of two kinds of dynamics, one of which describes the Main Character, the other describes the Author. Every Main Character's personal problem is either caused because he is doing something he needs to stop or because he is not doing something he ought to be. In other words, his problem exists because he needs to remove or add a trait. In a sense, the Main Character must either move toward something new or move away from something old. That alone does not give a positive or negative feel to a story, as what he is moving toward or away from could be good or bad. Every Author has feelings about which traits are good ones to have and which are bad. Just because a Main Character successfully solves his problem by removing or adding a trait does not mean he has become a better person for it. The Author's message may be that failure in problem-solving is preferable to diminishing one's overall character. So the Author's identity is exposed to the audience by passing a value judgment on whether removing or adding a trait (Start or Stop) was good or bad. Taken together, Start and Stop, and a value judgment on what the Main Character is growing in relation to of good or bad create four combinations. Two of these are positive and two of them are negative. Start and good means the Main Character is moving toward something good and that feels positive. Stop and bad means the Main Character is moving away from something bad and that also feels positive. Start and bad means the Main Character is moving toward something bad and that feels negative. And Stop and good means the Main Character is moving away from something good and that feels negative as well.
a determination that something might be true
The Possibility element endows a character with an open-minded assessment of his environment and relationships. However, it gives less weight to the single most likely explanation, looking instead at the whole range of known alternatives. Since the most likely scenario does not always happen, the Possibility element aids in having "Plan B" ready. On the downside, this characteristic may "over think" things and lose track of what is most probable.
syn. plausibility, viability, conceivable eventualities, open assessment
a latent tendency toward some attitude or action
One way to measure the relationship of items in a quad is to classify them as Potential, Resistance, Current, and Outcome (or Power). In this manner, we can see how dramatic components operate on each other over the course of the story. Potential simply means a latent tendency toward some attitude or action. Though a dramatic Potential may exist, it is not necessarily applied. Rather, until a Resistance interacts with a Potential, the Potential has nothing to act against and will remain latent. So in a quad, assigning one of the items as the Potential does not mean it will become active in the story. Instead, it might function to deter the Resistance item from a certain course rather than risk conflict with Potential. This is a useful tool for Authors since it allows for the subtle relationship of unused, inferred, threatened, or anticipated dramatic interactions that shape the fabric of a story in ways other than conflict.
a determination that something has the capacity to become true
The element of Potentiality drives a character to take risks on long odds. Always looking at what is not specifically ruled out, he is even beyond the realm of possibility and spends his time focusing on the greatest possible potential. As long as there is no reason why something should not be a certain way, the character representing Potentiality acts as if it is. Of course this leads him to see benefits and dangers others might miss, but it also leads him to starve on "pie in the sky." This characteristic always looks at what might be, never stopping to take stock of what is.
syn. chance, precariousness, focusing on the uncertain, going with the improbable
- Power (Outcome)
the effect of a process
One way to measure the relationship of items in a quad is to classify him as Potential, Resistance, Current, and Power (or Outcome). In this manner, we can see how dramatic components operate on each other over the course of the story. Power simply means the effect of a process. When a dramatic Power exists it does not necessarily create change. Rather, until it is applied for the necessary period of time by Current, the Power will have not have the impact sufficient to affect change. So in a quad, assigning one of the items as the Power does not mean it will alter the course of the story. Instead, it might function to direct effort by providing a specific target. This is a useful tool for Authors since it allows for the subtle relationship of unused, inferred, threatened, or anticipated dramatic interactions that shape the fabric of a story in ways other than conflict.
unwillingness to re-evaluate
Preconception is a pre-conception that prevents one from entertaining information contrary to a held conclusion. When one shuts his mind to additional data, there is no way to realize that the conclusion might be in error. Contradictory observation no longer becomes part of experience so experience ceases to grow. Obviously, this can lead to all kinds of actions and attitudes that work to the detriment of oneself and others. On the other hand, Preconception can steel one against temporary exceptions that tempt one to veer from the true path. Question -- Is it bad to have Preconceptions against evil?
syn. prejudice, closed mindedness, narrow mindedness, intolerancy, stubbornness, unwillingness to reevaluate
restrictions imposed on the effort to reach the goal
When meeting the requirement is made contingent upon some non-essential restriction, the extra baggage is referred to as Preconditions. Depending upon the nature of the Preconditions and the nature of a character, it may turn out that although the prerequisites will achieve the goal, the goal itself is improper and only the Preconditions can actually solve the problem. Misplaced emphasis is a common thematic exploration.
limitations tacked on to an effort
When access to resources necessary to meeting pre-requisites is made contingent upon some non-essential accomplishment or limitation, the extra baggage is referred to as Pre-conditions. Depending upon the nature of the Pre-conditions and the nature of a character, it may turn out that although the pre-requisites will achieve the goal, the goal itself is improper and only the Pre-conditions can actually solve the problem. Misplaced emphasis is a common thematic exploration.
syn. provision, prescribed specification, imposed stipulation, limiting parameters, imposed limitations
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 is the Pre-Conscious. 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
a determination of a future state of affairs
Prediction explores the effort to learn the course of one's destiny. Destiny is the path to a particular fate or through a series of fates. Fates are experiences or conditions one must encounter along the way as one's destiny directs one's course. The nature of destiny is such that no matter how much a character is aware of the nature and location of an undesirable fate, nothing he can do is enough to pull him off the path. However, if one could know the future course, one could prepare for each eventuality in order to minimize or maximize its effect.
syn. foresight, foreseeing, anticipation, envisioning one's future, prophecy, forecast, foretell, prognosticate
preliminary steps that must be met
Prerequisites are the essential or necessary steps or accomplishments that must be achieved in order for something to occur. If a goal has a single requirement, there may be many prerequisites to meeting that requirement.
syn. essential steps, necessary requisites, compulsory stipulation
the essential preliminaries that must be met to complete the Requirements
Prerequisites are the essential or necessary steps or accomplishments that must be achieved in order for something to occur. If a goal has a single requirement, there may be many prerequisites to achieving that requirement.
the current situation and circumstances
"Present" does not refer to the way things are going, but to the way things are. It is a here and now judgment of the arrangement of a situation and the circumstances surrounding it. A story that focuses on the Present is not concerned with how events led to the current situation nor where the current situation will lead, but defines the scenario that exists at the moment.
syn. how things stand, the here and now, current situation, as of this moment
taking initiative action to achieve one's goals
The Proactive characteristic will urge a character to begin problem solving on his own. This character will be a self-starter who is up and at it the moment he realizes a potential problem exists. Sometimes, however, a potential problem may not actually materialize and would have disappeared in short order by itself. Proaction may actually cause the problem to occur by irritating the situation. Worse yet, the character representing Proaction may act before the true nature of the problem is seen, leading him to cause damage to innocent or non-responsible parties, sometimes actually aiding the real source of the problem.
syn. to initiate action, execute, undertake, commit, implement
a determination of likelihood
The character having the Probability characteristic puts its beliefs and efforts behind what is most likely. It is not as bound to safety as a character containing the Certainty characteristic, yet will still only take "calculated" risks. It is always playing the odds and changes direction in mid-stride if the odds change. This allows it to steer clear of many dangers but also tends to make it fickle.
syn. likelihood, prospective, predictable, promising
the underlying cause of the story's difficulties
Of all the Elements, there is a single one that describes the essence of the story's problem. The inclusion of this element in an Overall Story Character identifies him as the Main or Impact Character. This is because it makes that character the only one who can solve both the Overall and Main vs. Impact problems in a single stroke by addressing the problem (changing).
- Problem Solving Style
a determination of the Main 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 Main Character, it is essential to understand upon which foundation his experience rests and the technique he uses to resolve problems he encounters.
the mechanism through which a cause leads to an effect
A Process is a series of interactions that create results. The character representing Process will concentrate on keeping the engine running smoothly. Unfortunately, he often forgets to look where the car is actually going. Sometimes the experiences along the way are the important part, other times it is arriving at the destination.
syn. chain of interactions, manner of procedure, cause/effect relation, progression, ongoing pull or tendency
a process of thought that determines potential
Production is a process of thought that determines potential. Almost like deduction in reverse, rather than arriving at a present truth by limiting out what cannot be, Production arrives at a future truth by limiting out what can not happen. Anything that remains has potential. The problem for the character representing the Production characteristic is that Potentiality is often mistaken for Certainty if he fails to realize that any overlooked or unknown information can completely alter the course of the future.
syn. determining potential, noticing possibilities, ruling out future impossibilities, discovering of potential
the way things are going
Progress concerns itself with change -- what direction and how fast? It is not so important where things were, are, or will be, but rather how the struggle between inertia and change seesaws over the course of the story.
syn. flowing, advancing, proceeding, moving forward, developing step by step, graduated, staging, successive, procession, the way things are going
an extension of probability into the future
Projection is a means of anticipating events and situations by extending the line of how things have been happening into the future. A character that represents Projection has a good grasp of what he might look for in things to come. However, this character will give great weight to past experience so abrupt changes in direction might be ignored until it is too late.
syn. anticipation, how things will be, most likely, probable
An Archetypal Character who represents the qualities of Pursuit and Consider
An Overall Story Character charged with the responsibility of pursuing a solution to the story's Overall (Objective) problem. An Overall (Objective) problem does not mean it can't be personal. Rather, it means that all of the dramatically functioning characters in the story are concerned about the outcome. The true Archetypal Protagonist pursues the solution against the Antagonist. In other stories a close cousin of the Protagonist shares all the same elements except he tries to avoid the Antagonist's plan. For the Pursuing Protagonist the goal is to cause something. For the Avoiding "Protagonist" the goal is to prevent something.
an effort to prevent one's concerns from being vulnerable to interference
Protection is the act of building one's defenses against actual and potential threats. Certainly, preparing for problems brings a character advantages should the problems occur. However, the very act of building defenses can be interpreted as a threat to others who rely on Proaction and thereby precipitate the very aggression the character had tried to protect against. Also, a character representing Protection may stifle another's need for risk-taking or become so wrapped up in preparations that there are no resources left to use for advancement.
syn. defense, safeguard, preservation, precaution
a rating of knowledge based on corroboration
Proven refers to an understanding that has been shown to be correct enough times to enough people to hold it as fact. The character representing Proven will judge truth only by what has been sufficiently verified. This makes it wary of unsubstantiated rumors, evidence, or conclusions. In the negative column, determining something is Proven requires drawing an arbitrary line that says, "Enough it enough, it's true!" The moment one assumes that the understanding is Proven, one ceases to look for exceptions. When a connection is made between two events or people on the basis of a series of "Proven" facts, all it takes is one exception to ruin the argument.
syn. verified, confirmed, corroborated, established, demonstrated, shown
a manner of thinking
The Psychology Class is where the evolution or change in an attitude is explored, unlike the Mind Class which describes the nature of a fixed state of mind. This is a more deliberation-oriented class where the focus is not on the attitude itself, but whether it is changing for better or for worse.
syn. ways of thinking, thinking process, activity of the psyche, manipulation of others
a desired and intended result
Purpose and Motivation are often confused. Whereas Motivation is the drive that the character must fulfill or satisfy, Purpose is the specific item that will satiate that drive. Sometimes a character will attempt to satiate his Motivation by achieving several Purposes, each of which does part of the job. Other times, a single Purpose can assuage multiple Motivations. Many interesting stories are told about characters who struggle to achieve a Purpose that really will not meet their Motivation or about characters who achieve a Purpose for the wrong Motivation. But other, less common arrangements sometimes present more Deliberation oriented stories where the character achieves a Purpose near the beginning and then must search to find a Motivation that gives it value, or a character who has a strong Motivation but must search for the Purpose that truly accommodates it.
a directed effort to resolve a problem
The character representing Pursuit is a real self-starter. The Pursuit characteristic leads a character to determine what he needs to achieve and then make a bee-line for it. This may seem admirable and it can be. Unless of course he is trying to pursue something bad for himself and/or for others. In fact, it may be that the object of the Pursuit doesn't want to be pursued. "If you love something let it go... If it loves you, it will come back. If it doesn't come back, hunt it down and kill it."
syn. seek, go after, attempt to achieve, look for, directed effort