Short Story

Can Dramatica be adapated for half-hour TV shows?

I am interested in using Dramatica for 1/2 and 1 hour sci-fi type shows. The half hour show would be likened to Twilight Zone, thus no running plot. Could you give me some tips on how to do that?

There are basically two different approaches to using Dramatica with "short form" works. One is to cover all of the various story points quickly and economically (timewise). The other is to spend more time illustrating the story points, but limit the scope or depth of the coverage. Then, of course, there is the blend between the two. In all cases, it is best to explore all four of the story's throughlines: the Objective Story, the Relationship Story, the Main Character, and the Influence Character. Even if you only treat one or two of the throughlines superficially, by addressing them you avoid HUGE gaps in your story's argument.

Now, sometimes the intent in a short form piece is NOT to tell a story but to tell a tale (make a statement, but not fully argue the point). In these instances, you can use Dramatica to explore just one or two of the throughlines. Doing this will tend to lessen the long term emotional impact on the audience, but it can free up valuable screen time for a deeper exploration of the issues or subject matter you REALLY want to explore.

The one hour format, e.g. Outer Limits, is long enough to include all four throughlines, though one or two may not be explored as deeply as the others. If you try to tell a tale, your audience might get a little impatient unless your work is a non-stop entertainment. If it's not, the audience will be looking for "more," more than a tale can deliver.

Can Dramatica be adapated for short stories?

I have your software for a novel I'm working on but I wonder if your system could be adapted for short stories. Or maybe you already have it? Or perhaps a separate program for the shorter work.

Because short stories are, well, short, they generally do not have enough space to cover all the points necessary to make a grand argument story. Therefore, there are two techniques that are most commonly used.

The first is to cover the same "breadth" as a grand argument story, but limit the depth of exploration. This type of short story has the "feel" of a larger story (e.g. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor), yet still falls into the short story category. This type of story will have all four throughlines represented in the story (Objective story, Relationship story, Main Character, and Influence Character). Frequently one or two of the throughlines are more heavily emphasized, but all are present. The economy comes in limiting the depth of exploration.

The second type of short story is to go to the full "depth" as a grand argument story, but limit the breadth of exploration. This type of short story seems to focus solely on one throughline (generally the Objective Story or the Main Character) and may only hint at one of the other throughlines (e.g. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe). This type of story is frequently used in the shorter stories and often has "trick" endings (think O. Henry or The Twilight Zone). Longer form works don't support this type of story nearly as well as the short form does.

Now, how can Dramatica help you develop your short story idea?

The first thing you should do is determine a storyform that conforms to the part of the story that you know. Even though you may be limiting the breadth and/or depth of the exploration of the storyform, it is important that what you do explore fits together well. Starting from a complete storyform will dramatically reduce potential logistical and emotional "holes" in your finished work. You can achieve this fastest by using the Story Engine or the Quick Trip path in the Query System. However, most of the query system paths can be used to create a single storyform. Experiment a bit with the program to find one that asks the questions you are most interested in. In fact, only answer the questions you want and, if you desire, answer some questions in one DQS path and switch to others to answer other storyforming questions. Dramatica doesn't care how or where you make the choices, it just needs for you to make them.

Next, pick which type of short story you want to do and illustrate ONLY those parts that are relevant to your finished work. (You CAN illustrate the entire storyform, but you may end up not using a lot of the material because it won't "fit" into the limited space.)

Lastly, weave together the pieces of the story that is to appear in the story. This should be done in a word processing program. You should end up with a story which, even though not fully drawn, implies a larger picture than the sketch explored in the finished work.

How does Dramatica apply to different lengths of fiction?

How does Dramatica apply to different lengths of fiction, i.e. how would one apply it to short stories and also to 'epic' fiction (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Shogun, etc..)???

Short stories are usually a subset of a Grand Argument Story. This means that they typically do not go to the depth of a full story, or the breadth (cover all of the throughlines) of a full story. "Epics" usually have one "main" story embellished with LOTS of substories -- stories that are outgrowths of the main story. These substories frequently have one of the objective characters act as the Main Character of the substory. Some "epics" have more than one main story going on. In these cases, it is necessary for the author to be clear about what storytelling belongs to which story. In addition, these stories frequently ALSO have many substories tagging along.