What if you can’t decide on “Success” or “Failure”?

I have a hard time assigning a simple "Success" or "Failure" label to many stories, because the success is often tempered with failure, and vice versa, and sometimes it is hard to tell which one predominates. In Rob Roy, for example, Rob stays alive -- success -- but he fails to make life better for his people, which was his original goal. In fact, a tremendous number of his people are much worse off than they were when he first decided to try to change things for the better. I suppose it depends on whether the Story Goal is "Staying Alive" or "Making things better for all of MacGregor's people." (I'm sure you have some specific terminology that covers both of those goals, but I haven't learned it yet.)

Actually, you should treat the issue of Success/Failure in a completely non-judgmental way. If the goal was achieved: Success. If it was not: Failure.

There is another question in Dramatica which is where you make the judgmental call: the Story Judgment. If the MC resolves their personal angst, then the judgment is Good. If the MC is left having to cope with personal issues, then the judgment is Bad. The degree of Success, Failure, Good, or Bad is completely up to you. Combining the two questions gives you four different kinds of endings: Success/Good = Triumph (Star Wars). Failure/Bad = Tragedy (Hamlet). Failure/Good = Personal Triumph (Rain Man). Success/Bad = Personal Tragedy (Silence of the Lambs).

As far as Rob Roy goes, my take on it is that the general concern (for EVERYONE in the story) is to protect one's honor (abstracted as the honor of the Scottish) and one's own to prevent destruction of the family line. This is true of the peasants (tracking down and killing cattle robbers) as well as gentry (both English and Scottish). More specifically, it is the concern for Rob Roy and his friends and family (Story Goal). If that is the story goal, then it is a Success / Good story. HOWEVER, Dramatica also discusses a story point call the Story Costs. In Rob Roy, the costs are very high. This offsets the "triumph" feel of the story by bringing the value of the goal down

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