Grand Argument Story

Do all narratives have to be Grand Argument Stories?

In the Dramatica Theory Of Story book, you state:

To fully explore any issue, an author has to examine all possible solutions to that issue and make an argument to prove to an audience that the author’s way is best.

May I understand “To fully explore any issue” as an equivalent of “writing the ‘perfect’ screenplay”? If so, where can we put those French movies that are but a glimpse of how people fail or even if they succeed—they do so by accident? These films do not judge nor label, but put us in the position of accepting the human condition and learning from others, even if they are only fictional characters in a movie.

This seems to me a very different concept. Or am I missing an important point here?

The comment about the “author’s way is best” is not an evaluation of the validity of the author’s opinion, but that it represents the argument the author makes. It is a comment on the author’s intent, not the message represented by the author’s argument.

The comment about fully exploring any issue is a broad generalization about the nature of a grand argument story. In other words, the storyform represents a sufficient set of components to make a complete argument/grand argument story. It’s not meant to be hyperbole, but it may come off that way without providing the contexts and caveats a longer description might include.

Are all narratives grand argument stories? No. Not even close. Most stories contain aspects (story points) of a storyform, but only a grand argument story has them all (by definition).

Are all well received narratives based on grand argument stories? No. The storyform is only one of four major phases that go into the creation of a grand argument story, and positive reception may be indifferent to well ‘formed’ stories.

Are all grand argument stories successful narratives? No. Storyencoding, Storyweaving, and Story Reception play a great part in how well a finished work successfully communicates the underlying universal meaning/message baked into the storyform. Authors are responsible for the choices they make in creating and telling stories. Audiences are responsible for interpreting the stories in way meaningful to their own lives and experience. When there is a meeting of the minds between authors and audiences, there can be ‘magic.’ Our interest was to make the magic a bit more understandable and repeatable.

So, our comments are meant to be objective descriptions of grand argument stories, not all narratives, nor the success or failure of the efforts to communicate an author’s intent. Our primary goal was to describe as accurately as we could the elements and processes that comprise the creation and analysis of grand argument stories, as well as the larger connection to the processes of human problem-solving and psychology that they mirror.

How can I tell if my script or novel has one story or two stories?

Each complete Grand Argument Story will have four throughlines: the Objective Story, the Relationship Story, the Main Character, and the Influence Character. Each of these throughlines represents a different POINT OF VIEW (there's the POVs in Dramatica I think you were asking about). To non-Dramatica eyes, the Objective and Relationship story throughlines appear to be different stories in the same work -- the Rhett and Scarlett love affair set against the Civil War story in Gone With The Wind, Jake Gittes and Evelyn Mulwray's love affair set against the mystery of early Los Angeles politicking in Chinatown, etc. If your story has two strong points of view, those may be the Main and Influence character points of view. Both the MC and the IC should explore ALL of the elements in their Domain (which includes ALL 64 character elements). This is different from the Objective Characters who must divide the set of 64 elements between themselves. That MIGHT account for the difficulty you were experiencing while assigning objective character elements to your MC and IC. The objective character elements should ONLY pertain to the functions that the MC and IC have in the OBJECTIVE STORY. This is distinctly different than their own points of view and participation in the Relationship Story.

There have been a couple of popular films lately that have TWO stories instead of the traditional one story. Both Jerry Maguire and The English Patient combine separate stories into one work. In Jerry Maguire, there is the love story and the sports story. In the sports story, Jerry is the Main Character who remains steadfast and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character is the Influence Character that changes. In the love story, Jerry is the Influence Character that changes, and his love interest (the woman with the son) is the Main Character that remains steadfast. Each has their own set of Objective Characters (some of which do double duty between the stories). In The English Patient, there is a pre-war love affair story, and the "post" war story involving the patient, the nurse, the Sikh, etc. I believe the book fleshes out the post-war love story to a greater degree than the movie did, but I haven't read it so I can't say for sure.

The point I'm trying to make is that one story has FOUR throughlines. A work with two stories will have EIGHT throughlines, two of each. This should help you determine which best describes your story.

What is a Grand Argument Story?

What is a Grand Argument Story? From the documentation, all I can tell is that Dramatica describes Grand Argument Stories, and that a Grand Argument Story is a story that can be described by Dramatica.

Simply put, a Grand Argument Story is a story that covers all the ways a problem might be identified and solved. By covering all the bases, the author (who is probably not present when the audience experiences the work) need not be present to respond to challenges an audience might have based on story "holes" or inconsistencies. We have found that many other forms of Narrative fall under the umbrella of the Grand Argument Story including fairy tales, stream-of-conscious works, etc.