Relationship Story Throughline

What is the difference between the Domain and the Problem?

Using the gists my Relationship Story Domain comes up as "Considering Something Unacceptable". When I look at the Theory information is says "the heart of the problem" and "this describes how the MC and IC relate to each other in the story". When I look in All Topics to the left and click on Relationship, this Considering something unacceptable shows up in RS Domain, not RS Problem. When I click on RS Problem, the only choice is Equity.

Would that mean they start off thinking each other's attitude/response is unacceptable, then the IC changes? Does the IC change if the MC is steadfast, or does he just fade away? Would it make sense for the IC at the end to consider himself kind of equal with the MC, giving him a tip that saves him, before fading out?

It's a matter of scale. As a domain, the main conflict in their relationship will be a clash of attitudes in terms of considering something as unacceptable. A RS Problem of Equity means that the heart of the conflict in the relationship grows out of equity (fairness; balance). For example, a married couple come into conflict in their marriage when everything has to be completely even (if one set of inlaws stays for two weeks, the other set of inlaws must stay with them for two weeks (even though neither of them can stand spending time with one set of inlaws) in an effort to be fair.

If the IC is change, the MC is steadfast, and vice versa.

Who does the Relationship Throughline apply to?

I am in the Determine the Relationship window. I have a steadfast MC. I chose the "considering something unacceptable" option. Is this just something unacceptable to the MC? The IC makes an offer to the MC that the MC considers unacceptable, so that works. Or is it necessary for the IC to consider something unacceptable, too, i.e. the refusal of the MC?

If you're looking at the relationship throughline, then "considering something unacceptable" would describe an aspect of the relationship. You did not indicate what story point you are exploring (e.g. Problem, Solution, Concern, etc.), which would allow a more specific answer since each is its own context to give it meaning.

For example, a Relationship Throughline Problem of Consider ("considering something unacceptable") would mean one thing, versus it being a RS Problem of Non-Acceptance, or a RS Concern of Contemplation, and so on. Plus, you may have it an attribute of the relationship ("the couple considers their current circumstances unacceptable") or something that is attribute to them ("a neighbor considers their relationship unacceptable").

Can you explain the Relationship Story Throughline further?

Of the four throughlines in a Dramatica grand argument story (GAS), the "relationship" throughline is perhaps the easiest to recognize and the most difficult to understand.

This throughline, originally labeled the Subjective Story (SS), then the MC/IC throughline and now the Relationship Throughline, describes the relationship between the Main Character and the Influence Character. Some examples include the budding romance between Romeo and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the reluctant partnership between Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond in 48 Hrs., and the non-traditional family bond developed between Lilo and Genetic Experiment 626 in Lilo and Stitch.

The SS or RS throughline is important to a GAS because it contains the emotional facet of the story's argument. It counter-balances the objectified, matter-of-fact viewpoint provided by the Overall Story throughline.

The relationship throughline explores the conflicts inherent in the relationship. The relationship may be well established or new. It may be growing or falling apart. It may be there by mutual agreement, by unilateral choice, or imposed by outside forces. It may end in disaster or blossom into something new. The relationship is exciting in its possibilities.

Many writers confuse the relationship throughline for the characters in it. Though the characters are party to the relationship, the RS is not about the characters as individuals. The RS is about the relationship. This means the RS Problem is about the source of conflict in the relationship. The RS Concern is about the source of general concern in the relationship. The same is true for all other story points in the relationship throughline. Though you may choose to reveal the RS through your characters' actions and words, the RS is always about the relationship.

Here's a quick example.

  • MC -- Bob is a prude dealing with personal, sexual hang-ups. (Fixed Attitude)
  • IC -- Sue is a woman naturally endowed with physical beauty. Her presence makes Bob consider his hang-ups. (Situation)
  • RS -- Their marriage is going through a lot of stress because they are moving. (Activity)
  • OS - The local civic leaders are developing a plan to secede from the larger city to form a separate community and use psychological coercion to make it happen (Manipulation)

Two angels talk about them.

Angel 1

So, how's Bob' know...problem?

Angel 2

He's dealing with it. Sue doesn't make it any easier for him, if you know what I mean.

Angel 1

And how's their marriage holding up?

Angel 2

The move's really taking it toll. I'm not sure it will weather the stresses it's under, but it's hanging in there despite their individual worries.

(OK, so the dialogue is lame, but it should be clear enough to identify the "marriage" as separate from Bob and Sue.)