The Impact of Subject Matter in a Dramatica Grand Argument Story

by KE Monahan Huntley

A story's topic, or theme, is the "dominant idea of a work" (Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature 1105). An author's expression of an idea is always open to interpretation. Applying universal themes to a possible 32,768 Dramatica storyforms is a challenging, perhaps even daunting, endeavor. Nevertheless, putting careful consideration into choosing a storyform will enable an author to better communicate the intended message.

Dramatica grand argument stories with the same subject matter may contain identical storyforms. This is particularly true in adaptations. For example, Bridget Jones's diary, a novel by Helen Fielding, is a "v.v.g." update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- a comedic look at the social customs and manners of England's upper class, in particular, the foolish errors one can make in first impressions.

The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine, a moving short story written by Melissa Bank, and Eudora Welty's Pulitzer prize winning novel The Optimist's Daughter, each address a daughter coping with her father's death. The two stories have the same storyform, however, the storytelling is quite unlike.

Melissa Bank's short story The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and director Andy Tennant's Ever After: A Cinderella Story, both explore the quest for Prince Charming, or as Bank's satirically says: "How to Meet and Marry Mr. Right." In this case, same motif -- different storyform.

Whether it is a fresh take on a classic, personal foray into a common experience, or new twist on a fairy tale-an author always has the opportunity to present a unique vision. A storyform designed with certain deliberation will give that vision clarity-increasing the likelihood the audience will correctly interpret the author's intent.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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