Character Elements

How do the character elements work in each of the throughlines?

I know that there are 64 elements to be distributed among overall characters. However, the Main and Influence characters double up as overall characters, so if you had a main character who was also a protagonist - would you need two sets of elements or would they be the same for that player? Also, how do you go about choosing character elements - can you pick them from anywhere? I have noticed that they are arranged in different patterns for each separate class - is this purely for picking just one element for each throughline to signify their main problem. Does it affect the way you pick elements for the overall characters?

You're right about the Main Character and Influence Character. Each one has a complete set of character elements. These elements describe the POSSIBLE places the problem might be in each of their throughlines, but only the PROBLEM element in each throughline is the cause of conflict in the throughline. So, while you may have your Main Character explore all of the elements while trying to solve his personal problems, only the MC Solution will do.

Both the MC and IC also have Overall Story counterparts (more accurately, the players that represent the MC and IC also represent players in the Overall Story throughline). Therefore, their roles in the OS (and the elements assigned to those characters) give them something to do within the context of the Overall Story. For example, Luke Skywalker--as MC--tries to work out his personal problems and learns to trust his instincts, while he plays protagonist in the Overall Story as a proponent in fighting the Empire.

The different patterns within each class are understandable when you look at how the Dramatica structural model is built. The bottom level is where the elements from which you build your Overall Story characters are found. Unlike the top three levels, however, each item does NOT have its own unique label (e.g. Pursuit and Consider). There is one set (or what we call a "chess set") of 64 unique labels which cover all of the elements for a single Domain/Throughline. Dramatica consists of four Domains and the elements appear within each of these Domains. The DIFFERENCE between the elements of one Domain and another is the arrangement of the elements within the quads. Though a dynamic pair is never split (e.g. Pursuit and Avoidance), it will be paired with different dynamic pairs to make up each quad. The combination of the four elements within each quad is different from domain to domain. These combinations create slightly different contextual "flavors" for the elements which substitute for unique labels. Therefore, Pursuit in a Situation domain is subtly different than Pursuit in an Activity domain because of the shared elements of the quad in which it is found.

Picking elements for MC or IC do not control which elements you assign to their functions in the Overall Story throughline. Build the characters however you'd like to.

How do turncoats and character reveals work within Dramatica?

Any experience, thoughts, or suggestions on using the Build Character screen for writing mystery/thrillers?

Specifically, I'm having trouble with the "apparent story" and the "true story" aspect of writing a mystery/thriller and assigning elements in the Build Character screen. Things seem to be one way during much of the story. As the detective investigates, the picture keeps changing, until at the end, day is revealed to be night, white is really black, and the true bad guy's identity is revealed.

So what should be encoded in Build Characters: the characters' apparent motives, methods, purposes, or their "ultimate, true" elements? A big problem is that those true elements aren't revealed until the end, making it hard to put them in the story earlier.

The best way you make a characters look like they're one thing but are really another is to build your characters with seemingly incompatible traits. The trick is to show the "public" traits but conceal the "private" traits until the reveal. By conceal I mean use misdirection so that the effects of the private traits are either misinterpreted or associated with someone other than that character. This often works when assigning traits from the different character trait levels (motivation, methodology, evaluation, purpose).

For example, let's say we have a character that is both oppose and proaction. He can publicly oppose things while privately (and unknown to the audience) act as a provocateur by setting things into motion proactively. Eventually the hidden trait is connected by others (and the audience) to its proper owner and that character's "true" (complete) nature is revealed.

Why do the character elements change position in the different throughlines?

My understanding from the Theory Book and all the examples I've seen shows the Motivational Quads with Consider/Logic/Feeling/Reconsider in the top left quad, and the others played out accordingly. After completing my storyform, the top-left quad looks like this: Consider/Pursuit/Avoidance/Reconsider, with other changes accordingly. The replacement of Logic by Pursuit and Feeling by Avoidance is throwing me. Is this what is supposed to happen after I complete a storyform?

The arrangement of the elements is different in each of the four throughlines/domains. For the sake of consistency, the arrangement we usually show in the book and reference material is the arrangement found in the Activities class. The arrangement you describe for your story suggests that your Overall Story Throughline is in the Fixed Attitude class.

In other words, Dramatica shows you the arrangement (and groupings) of the story elements appropriate to your Overall Story Throughline's domain.

Do I really need all 64 character elements in my story?

I've been working for some time now on my current script and I have a question that probably only you can answer. I seem to be having a really hard time getting a handle on the number of elements in the 64 Element Set that should be used in creating my chatacters.... I would appreciate if you could enlighten me on this.

"In a perfect world..." every character element would be represented and interacted with every other element.

"In a minimalist world..." the four character elements in the quad that contains the problem element will interact.

The "real" world exists somewhere between the two.

Generally speaking, it's best to describe the interactions of elements in quads (4), sets (16 elements), chess sets (64 elements), or super sets (256 elements = all elements in the four domains). The reason this is a generalization comes from the fact that the qualities that define ANY quad are similar. The difference is the "shading" and levels of subtlety. The more elements, the greater the subtlety. The reason for trying to keep to the factors of "4" is to maintain a semblance of balance. If you explore 12 of the 16 motivation elements, your argument to the audience is going to seem off balance. IF you only argue four, the argument will appear balanced but shallow.

Another factor is the type of finished work in which your story is to be written. A novel has far more "real estate" to explore story nitty-gritty of character element interactions than a screenplay. A screenplay has more room than a short story. A short story has more room than a ballad. Very often the form in which you tell a story may dictate how much time and space you have to tell it.

About the Examples

When analyzing someone else's work, it's often difficult to identify every bit of the author's intent. Big stuff, such as Story Goal or Main Character Problem might be easy, but dissecting the Overall Story Characters is often little more than guess work. Our example files try to identify the character elements where intent could be identified. Where it was unclear or conflicted, we left the elements blank. It's important to keep in mind that Dramatica's tools are just that--tools. Use them to fix things that aren't working properly or to tune them up. Don't trying fixing aspects of your story that aren't "broken." Just because you have a hammer does not mean everything is a nail.