Complex Characters

How do I interpret the objective character elements when forming complex characters?

How do I interpret the objective character elements when determining the formations of complex characters who do not respect the traditional archetypes?

Complex objective character interactions are similar to archetypal character interactions, just a little more . . . well, complex. What I mean is that you must interact the characteristics on a case by case basis using whichever characters they inhabit to make your point. Archetypal characters cluster non-conflicting characteristics together into each archetype, thereby simplifying the interactions. Complex characters might conflict in their methodology (e.g. Proaction vs. Reaction), for instance, yet be completely compatible in the motivations (e.g. Avoidance vs. Oppose -- little direct conflict here).

When using the suggested storyweaving methodologies, try thinking less in terms of the interactions of the "players" (i.e. you cast members), and think more in terms of the characteristics interactions. The players that have the characteristics will interact but potentially in different ways on different levels. Especially when you compare them to the rather simplistic interactions that archetypal characters have.

The bottom line is, the characteristics must be shown how they relate to one another. Characters (and players) are the means by which authors typically express those relationships/interactions. Our storybook worksheets are designed to show you how to work at presenting these interactions, but they favor the more simplified archetypal character relationships (to accommodate a more generalized audience). It may be time for you to use some of the concepts from the worksheets (introduction, interaction, etc.), but expand on them to fit your own needs.

Why are the character examples from “Star Wars” limited to only the motivation set?

I have been using the Star Wars example as a guide to understand archetype interaction and organization in the "motivation" set. But the objective story problem is listed as "Physics: Test vs. Trust" which would be found in the evaluation set. Why then are the character interactions limited only to the "motivations" set?"

The Star Wars characters are actually archetypal only at the motivation level. The other character dimension sets are in completely non-archetypal arrangements. The purpose of using archetypal characters is to show the patterns that exist in the Dramatica model of story. In point of fact, very few stories (other than children's stories) contain lots of Dramatica archetypes. Most stories are populated with complex characters. Remember, the StoryGuide is designed to "guide" writers through the Dramatica process. It still requires that the writer bring their own writing skills and intuitions to bare.

Is the Dramatica Theory Too Narrow?

Is it my imagination (or ignorance) or does Dramatica have a very narrow approach to story telling? For example, how do you fit your characters into Dramatica's archetypes? I have no Main character... they are all equally important. I have no hero; but I do have one character who is probably more evil than the rest. Is there some aspect of Dramatica that allows you to create a main character that is an antihero--or just plain evil. There is no "Helper" or "Skeptic" or "Guardian" etc. In fact the Dramatic types make very little sense to my story. The instructions suggest something about creating complex characters, but this seems so tedious. Is there another way to fit an unconventional story line into this program?

Archetypes are simple by definition. If you'd like more complex characters, you'll need to move away from the convenience of archetypes and into the world of complex characters. Complex characters are not difficult to create--it's just a matter of choosing their component elements in the Build Characters window. "Complex" refers to the degree to which a character's internal and external characteristics are in harmony (archetype) or at odds (complex).

Personally, I think Dramatica's description of story is far from simplistic. It is rich in depth and breadth. Please do not use the StoryGuide as an indication of Dramatica's reach into your story. The StoryGuide is DESIGNED to be simple and linear because it is designed to be used by Dramatica newbies and therefore uses the archetypes instead of suggesting more sophisticated character choices. However, Dramatica need not be used in either a simple or linear manner. Look to any of the other Query System topic lists or the Story Points window to get a better idea of the Dramatica's scope.

For example, Dramatica does NOT describe characters such as a Hero or Villain. Those are storytelling conventions that are not very useful if you want to do something even slightly less conventional. Instead, Dramatica see characters as having functions in different areas (throughlines) of the story. By separating the functions, an author may combine the "pieces" in interesting ways to create non-traditional characters. By way of example, you may combine the Main Character with the functions of an antagonist or a sidekick or any type of complex character instead of the typical MC/protagonist pairing.

With that said, Dramatica IS best used to develop a particular form of story--one in which an author wishes to present an argument to an audience in the form of a story. If you're not interested in developing a "Grand Argument Story" then Dramatica may not be the tool for you to use. Otherwise, it's by far the best story development tool available and the only one that makes suggestions about your story based information you give it in areas of the story you DID NOT describe.