Crucial Element

Can you explain the Crucial Element further?

I have to ask you about something which has bothered me for a long time; the crucial element. I have spent much time trying to understand how to use the crucial element, and I do not understand how exactly I should look at it in my story. I have found pieces information (by typing "crucial" in the search) on the Dramatica website & in Dramatica Pro Help, which seem to stand in conflict with each others. Can you give me some help?

How to Determine Your MC Crucial Element

Here is the way to determine what your Main Character's crucial element is:

  • If the MC is change and the outcome is success, the MC crucial element is the same as the MC problem.
  • If the MC is change and the outcome is failure, the MC crucial element is the same as the MC solution.
  • If the MC is steadfast and the growth is stop, the MC crucial element is the same as the MC Symptom.
  • If the MC is steadfast and the growth is start, the MC crucial element is the same as the MC Response.

Why the Examples Don't Always Respect the Crucial Elements

  1. When analyzing someone else's work, it is frequently difficult to determine the author's intent, especially when trying to identify something as potentially subtle as the crucial elements. Identifying the crucial elements depends on the author's expression of them AND the audience's (in this case the analyst's) ability to interpret the work.
  2. Most of the examples were written BEFORE the software had the capability to show the MC Crucial and IC Crucial labels in the Build Characters window. Though item (1) explains why the examples frequently don't "properly" identify the crucial elements, the fact that you can now see what Dramatica suggests exaggerates the discrepancy.

I hope this gives you a little more to go on. When all is said and done, the crucial elements are only ONE of MANY pieces of the storyform. Leaving them out of your story won't ruin the experience for your audience, but adding them does tend to make the story stronger.

How do Crucial Elements work with Character Archetypes?

I'm working on a storyform for a new (short) story using archetypal characters, and I've noticed the MC Crucial Element fell in the wrong spot. That is, not within any of the Protagonist squares. It fell in a Reason square. Furthermore, the IC Crucial Element fell in the Emotion square, rather than any of the squares belonging to the Antagonist. My Reason character is yet unassigned. Should I just give my MC/Protagonist that role, too, so he gets the MC Crucial Element?

Character archetypes are like training wheels--they're handy when you are just beginning but very quickly become more trouble than their worth.

The crucial elements are determined by the storyforming choices, not the character archetype choices.

I recommend breaking out of the character archetypes and into complex characters as soon as you can. The crucial element assignments are as good a reason for doing so as any.

To change the element assignments, go to the Build Character window in the Dramatica software. Add the "Logic" element to the MC and "Feeling" to the IC. If there is any other element reassigning that makes sense to you, do it.

The most important thing to remember is that each OS element is an approach to resolving the OS problem. Assigning them to characters gives you (the author) a means to explore the elements--show them in action--so that the problem and solution elements eventually become clear to the audience.