Search Results for s



a temporal unit of dramatic construction usually employed in Plays, Screenplays, and Teleplays

Although there is some variation, Scene is usually defined as all of the dramatic events which occur in a single place and time until either place or time changes. In Screenplays and Teleplays, Scenes are numbered in the original draft sequentially according to every change in location or time. For example, each scene would begin with the format, INT or EXT (for Interior or Exterior) followed by the location's name, such as JOE'S GARAGE. The final information is the time, which in Screenplays is usually limited to DAY or NIGHT, although other variations occur if absolutely necessary to convey specifics. Most Stage Plays are divided into Acts, which represent complete dramatic movements in the overall story. Each Act is usually sub-divided into two or three Scenes, which are identified as all the action and dialog which takes place in a single location and time. So, Act 1, Scene 2 might be: Joe's Garage ~ later that evening. A less common usage of "Scene" is as a unit representing a complete dramatic movement, such as an argument that begins, develops, and resolves. Although in a dramatic sense this is a useful application of the word, in practice, complete dramatic movements are often segmented and intermixed for storytelling purposes to create parallel action, delayed payoffs, and many other interest generating techniques. In keeping with the most common definition, Dramatica uses "Scene" to mean everything that takes place consecutively in a single place and time.


Variation Threat ↔ Security

an evaluation of one's protections

Before one can expand to greater achievements, it is important to protect what one has already achieved. When a character is concerned with Security, he builds defenses against threats both known and anticipated. However, actual dangers may or may not fall within the ability of the protections to keep one secure. Subjectively, a character must determine when he feels secure, based on his experience. For example, a famous comedian once related that he always bought so many groceries he had to throw many away when they spoiled. This, he said, was because he had gone hungry so often as a child. When a character's experiences motivate him to over or under prepare for dangers, Security may actually become a danger itself.

syn. evaluation of safety, measure of safeguards, appraisal of one's protections, gauge of defenses


Element Aware ↔ Self-Aware

being conscious of one's own existence

When a character possesses Self-Awareness he fully appreciates all his feelings, thoughts, abilities, and knowledge. Everything he experiences or observes is couched in terms of his own point of view. As the downside, he may not be able to understand that some things that happen don't pertain to him at all and in fact happen best without him.

syn. self-conscious, conscious of one's existence, self-perceiving, self-appreciating, self-cognizant


Variation Morality ↔ Self-Interest

doing or being based on what is best for oneself

In its pure form, Self-Interest is defined as the quality of ALWAYS choosing what is best for oneself with NO consideration as to the effect on others. This does not require ill intent toward others. A character who is Self-Interested simply focuses on the personal ramifications of decisions. In fact, in stories that show the evil nature of an oppressive society or regime, Self-Interest can be a very positive thing.

syn. self-serving, self-centered, narcissistic, selfishness, self-absorbed, egocentric

Sense of Self

Variation State of Being ↔ Sense of Self

one's perception of oneself

Simply put, Sense of Self is our own Self Image. A character may not truly know who he is but he always knows who he thinks he is. This inward-looking view may be right on the mark or not even close. The difficulty a character has is that from inside himself it is impossible to be sure who he is. All he can do is take clues from the reaction of those around him. Interesting storytelling sometimes places a character among those who provide a warped feedback that creates a false Sense of Self in the character. This erroneous image may be far better, far worse, or simply different than his actual state of being. Other stories force a character to come to grips with the fact that he is wrong about himself, and the opinions of others are accurate. In a Main Character, the differential between Sense of Self and State of Being is part of what separates the Subjective from the Objective story lines.

syn. perception of self, self image, self identity, self attribution


Variation Interpretation ↔ Senses

sensory observations

Senses refers to the raw data supplied to the mind to interpret. Sometimes the data is accurate, other times it is faulty even before the mind gets hold of it. Senses describes the overall accuracy of an observation (such as seeing a crime or checking the results of a test). When taken in conjunction with its Dynamic Pair of Interpretation, all manner of error or accuracy can be created. This provides the author with a powerful storytelling tool to create comedies and tragedies based in error and misunderstanding.

syn. perceptual data, raw sensations, sensory impressions, immediate impressions, perceptions


Structural Term

a grouping of 16 units

A set is a grouping of 16 units. Although the set contains four separate quads and the units are all in specific positions according to their natures, the quads are not considered in the set. This is because the concept of the set is to define a group of 16 that all have similar natures. In other words, a set is an umbrella that equally covers each of 16 individual units in a group.


Archetype Skeptic ↔ Sidekick

an Archetypal Character who represents the qualities of Faith and Support

The Sidekick is the absolutely faithful and supportive member of the Archetypal character set. Although frequently attached to the Protagonist, the Sidekick is identified by what his qualities are, not by who he is working for. In fact, the Sidekick might be attached to the Antagonist or not attached at all. His function is to represent the qualities of faith and support, not specifically to be in service of any other character. However, if the Sidekick is bound to the Protagonist, he can be effectively used to mirror the Author's feelings about the conduct of the Protagonist. Moving scenes can be created by a misguided Protagonist actually alienating the faithful, supportive Sidekick. Although the Sidekick would never turn against the Protagonist, he can turn away from him, leaving rather than being a party to something he finds immoral or disappointing.



sequential markers of a story's progress

Sequential markers of a story's progress that indicate the kind of concern central to each throughline in each Act.


Class Fixed Attitude ↔ Situation

a situation

The Situation Class is where any fixed state of affairs is explored, such as an institution, system, or situation that remains stable and unchanging. The point may be to show that the system is good, bad, or neutral, but the focus must be on the system, not on how the system is changing.

syn. a static situation, a set of circumstances, state of affairs, predicament, environment, milieu


Variation Circumstances ↔ Situation

the arrangement of one's environment

Situation describes the ins, outs, and practical considerations of the environment in which a character finds himself. Throughout a story, the situation may evolve or may remain constant, depending upon the essence of the message and the nature of the plot. Since it is limited to the practical, Situation can only be measured and/or interpreted though Reason.

syn. how things stand rationally, a reasoned evaluation of environment, arranged context, environmental state, surroundings, predicament


Archetype Sidekick ↔ Skeptic

an Archetypal Character possessing the qualities of disbelief and oppose

If a Sidekick is a cheer leader, a Skeptic is a heckler. The Skeptic still wants to see its team win, but doesn't think it can and is sure this is because the team members are going about it all wrong. Therefore, the Skeptic exhibits disbelief and opposes all efforts. Of course, when the team really is misguided, the Skeptic is in fact right on track. As with all Overall Story Archetypes, the Skeptic applies its outlook to hero and villain alike. In other words, the qualities of disbelief and oppose describe the nature of the Skeptic - not just its opinion about a particular issue. So, the Skeptic also doubts the bad guys are as powerful (or bad) as they are said to be, and opposes them as well. One purpose of stories is to illustrate how well different personality types fare in the effort to solve a particular kind of problem. Archetypal Characters represent the most broad categories into which personality types might be categorized. The Skeptic provides the opportunity to explore how well a doubter and naysayer does in resolving the story's troubles.


Variation Experience ↔ Skill

practiced ability

Skill is the innate potential to accomplish either that which is physical or mental. It does not require the practical experience necessary to tap that potential, just that the latent capacity exists. Skill might be seen as raw physical ability, talent, or intellectual or emotional aptitude which may or may not ever be developed.

syn. proficiency, aptitude, competence, adeptness, degree of expertise, practiced ability, honed ability



the specific element needed to resolve the story's problem

The Solution Element is the "flip side" of the Problem Element. In a Change story, for instance, the focus may be on the Problem Element ("The Main Character should not be this way") or the focus may be on the Solution Element ("The Main Character should be this way"). So in a sense the Problem Element is not by itself the cause of the story's problem, but works in conjunction with the Solution Element to create an imbalance between two traits that need to be balanced. The choice to present one as a negative trait defines it as the Problem Element and its positive partner becomes the Solution Element. In Steadfast stories, the Solution Element represents the nature of the things that would resolve the Overall Story Problem. Again it is the "flip side" of the problem, but it has exclusively to do with the Overall Story since the Main Character does not, in these cases, share the same problem as the Overall Story.


Element Projection ↔ Speculation

an extension of possibilities into the future

Speculation is the effort to determine what could conceivably happen in the future even though it is not the most likely scenario. Speculation leads a character to expect the unlikely in the event that it actually occurs. Difficulties arise when Speculation runs rampant and a character puts effort into preparing for things that are so unlikely as to be unreasonably improbable.

syn. prognostication, surmising possibilities, conjecturing


Character Dynamic

the audience wants something in the story, which is directly connected to the Main Character, to begin

Start means something different in a story where the Main Character has a Resolve of Change than in a story where the Main Character has a Resolve of Steadfast. If the Main Character must Change because he lacks an essential trait, then he must Start doing or being something they currently are not. If the Main Character is holding out Steadfastly until something begins in his environment, then he is waiting for something to Start. The term simply describes an aspect of the growth which happens in the Main Character.

State of Being

Variation Sense of Self ↔ State of Being

one's true nature

State of Being describes the actual nature of a character. The character himself is often not aware of the true nature of his being. In fact, there may be no one at all who fully understands all that he is. However, in the communication between Author and Audience, the essence of a character must be fully explained or the story's message will be obscured.

syn. essence, one's true self, true self, essential nature, core being

Static Plot Points


story points that remain the same throughout an entire story

There are Overall Throughline Story Points, Main Character Story Points, Impact Character Story Points and Relationship Throughline Story Points. There are even story points that are the synthesis of all four points of view such as Goal, Requirements, and Consequences. These central Story Points seem the most plot-like because they affect the Concerns of all four throughlines. As varied as all of these story points are, there is one quality they share: they stay the same from the beginning to the end of a story. Story Points of this stable nature are called Static Story Points.


Character Dynamic

the Main Character sticks with his essential nature while attempting to solve the problem

Every Main Character represents one special character element. This element is either the cause of the story's problem or its solution. The Main Character cannot be sure which he represents since it is too close to home. Near the climax of the story, the Main Character must demonstrate whether he has stuck with his original approach in the belief that it is the solution or jumped to the opposite trait in the belief he has been wrong. When a Main Character decides to stick with his story-long approach, he is said to remain Steadfast.

Steadfast Character

Character Appreciation

the Subjective Character who ultimately retains his essential nature from the beginning of the story to the end of story

Every Subjective Character (both the Main and Impact Character) represents one special character element. This element is either the cause of the story's problem or its solution. The Subjective Character cannot be sure which he represents since it is too close to home. Near the climax of the story, each Subjective Character must demonstrate whether he has stuck with his approach in the belief that it is the solution or jumped to the opposite trait in the belief that he is the cause of the problem. There will only be one Steadfast Character in every story, however when a Subjective Character decides to stick with his story-long approach, he is said to Remain Steadfast.



the indicator of growth, progress, or degree or concern

The Stipulation is a measuring stick which is used to judge progress in whichever throughline it is operating in. In the Objective Story, it is used to see how close the Objective Story Characters think they are to solving their problems. It describes where they apply their efforts, and thus is where they look to see how everything is coming along.


Character Dynamic

the audience wants something in the story, which is directly connected to the Main Character, to desist

Stop means something different in a story where the Main Character has a Resolve of Change than in a story where the Main Character has a Resolve of Steadfast. If the Main Character Changes because he possesses a detrimental trait, then he Stops doing or being something he has been. If the Main Character is Steadfast in holding out for something outside himself to be brought to a halt, he is hoping that it will Stop. The term simply describes an aspect of the growth which happens in the Main Character.

Story Driver

Plot Dynamic

the kind of activity focused upon in the effort to solve the story's problem

Action or Decision describes how the problem of the Story will primarily be explored. The primary concern is the kind of storytelling you want to do. If you want action to be the focus of your storytelling, choose action. If you want deliberation to be the focus of your storytelling, choose decision. It's that simple.

Story Judgment

Plot Dynamic

the author's assessment of whether or not the Main Character has resolved his personal problem

The notion that the good guys win and the bad guys lose is not always true. In stories, as in life, we often see very bad people doing very well for themselves (if not for others). And even more often we see very good people striking out. If we only judged things by success and failure, it wouldn't matter if the outcome was good or bad as long as it was accomplished. The choice of Good or Bad places the author's moralistic judgment on the value of the Main Character's success or failure in resolving his personal problems. It is an opportunity not only to address good guys that win and bad guys that fail, as well as good guys that fail and the bad guys that win, but to comment on the success or failure of their growth as human beings.

Story Limit

Plot Dynamic

the restricted amount of time or options that, by running out, forces the story to a climax

The Limit is what forces the story to a close. One of the functions of a story is to give the audience the value of experiences it has not had itself by living through the Main Character. As such, the Main Character in the story Changes or Remains Steadfast and hopes for the best, and we learn from his accomplishments or disappointments. Yet, even a Main Character would not jump into the void and commit to a course of action or decision unless forced into it. To force the Main Character to decide, the story provides all the necessary information to make an educated guess while progressively closing in on the Main Character until he has no alternative but to choose. This closing in can be accomplished in either of two ways: either running out of places to look for the solution or running out of time to work one out. Running out of options is accomplished by an Optionlock; a deadline is accomplished by a Timelock. Both of these means of limiting the story and forcing the Main Character to decide are felt from early on in the story and get stronger until the climax. Optionlocks need not be claustrophobic so much as they only provide limited pieces with which to solve the problem. Timelocks need not be hurried so much as limiting the interval during which something can happen. Once an established Limit is reached, however, the story must end and assessments be made: is the Outcome Success or Failure? is the Judgment Good or Bad? is the Main Character Resolve Change or Steadfast? etc.

Story Mind

Dramatica Term

the central concept underlying the Dramatica theory of story

The central concept from which Dramatica was derived is the notion of the Story Mind. Rather than seeing stories simply as a number of characters interacting, Dramatica sees the entire story as an analogy to a single human mind dealing with a particular problem. This mind, the Story Mind, contains all the characters, themes, and plot progressions of the story as incarnations of the psychological processes of problem solving. In this way, each story explores the inner workings of the mind so that we (as audience) may take a more objective view of our decisions and indecisions and learn from the experience.

Story Outcome

Plot Dynamic

an assessment of how things ended up

When one is creating a story, one must consider how it all comes out. This will not just be a description of the situation but also of what potentials remain and how they have changed over the course of the story. Often, an author may wish to show the Outcome of a dramatic movement at the beginning or middle rather than the end. In this way the audience will focus more on how that eventuality came to be rather than trying to figure out what is going to happen.

Story Point

Dramatica Term

items of dramatic meaning common to all stories

Story Points are items of dramatic meaning that are common to all stories. Meaning is created when an identifiable topic is seen from a particular point of view. This creates perspective which takes into account both the observation and the observer. In complete stories, there are four principal viewpoints at work: Overall Story, Main Character, Impact Character, Relationship Story. Each viewpoint has its own unique Story Points, though they parallel and match item for item the Story Points from another viewpoint. In addition, some Story Points are from a wider view, describing the relationship among the viewpoints and the dramatic results of their combined perspectives. In this manner, a story structure built from these Story Points will cover all the topics and viewpoints necessary to fully explore an issue central to them all. Common Story Points include such dramatic items as Goal, Requirements, Problem, Concern, and Outcome.

Story Point Items

Dramatica Term

items found in Dramatica's Story Points window

Items that are found in Dramatica's Story Points window. These are divided into Character Dynamics, Overview Story Points, Plot Dynamics, and Thematic Points.

Story Reception

Dramatica Term

the process of tailoring the telling of a story to a specific audience

Every culture and sub-culture has its own lingo, taboos, and givens. As a result, most stories do not play the same for one kind of audience as for another. Story Reception seeks to anticipate and take into account the nature of the target audience to tailor the story so that it is received as intended. Although we all have the capacity to feel the same emotions and make the same logistic connections, our particular sub-culture may shy away from certain emotions, or brand a particular kind of reasoning as inappropriate. Further, just because we may empathize with the same emotions doesn't mean we all feel as deeply, or if we see logical connections that we all grasp them as quickly. Especially when writing for audiences such as children, it is important to consider depth and speed as well as buzzwords and popular symbols. Often we can take advantage of cultural symbols to express mountains of sense and oceans of mood with a single story point. Other times we must develop an inordinate amount of media real estate to get across the most simple experiences, if they fall outside familiar cultural bounds for our audience. The important point for an author is to determine the target audience and make sure to be or become familiar enough with that audience to take cultural expectations and taboos into account. For an enlightened audience, the task is to recognize that other ingrained cultural imperatives exist, and to seek to appreciate a story in the context in which it was created.

Story versus Tale

Dramatica Term

a story seeks to make an argument, a tale does not

A tale describes a problem and the attempt to solve it, ultimately leading to success or failure in the attempt. In contrast, a story makes the argument that out of all the approaches that might be tried, the Main Character's approach uniquely leads to success or failure. In a success scenario, the story acts as a message promoting the approach exclusively; in the failure scenario, the story acts as a message exclusively against that specific approach. Tales are useful in showing that a particular approach is or is not a good one. Stories are useful in promoting that a particular approach is the only good one or the only bad one. As a result of these differences, tales are frequently not as complex as stories and tend to be more straightforward with fewer subplots and thematic expansions. Both tales and stories are valid and useful structures, depending upon the intent of the author to either illustrate how a problem was solved with a tale or to argue how to solve a specific kind of problem with a story.



the process of developing a dramatic structure into specific symbols, events, and scenarios

There are four stages in the process of communication from author to audience. They are: Storyforming, Storytelling, Storyweaving, and Story Reception. Storyforming establishes the underlying dramatic structure of a story. Storytelling turns raw story points into specific scenarios, events, and dialog. Storyweaving determines how the illustrated story points will be revealed or unfolded to the audience. Story Reception refines the story to tailor it for a specific audience. In practice, most authors work creatively in more than one stage at a time. Dramatica separates the stages, allowing an author to seek specific help and information regarding any part of the process. In keeping with this approach, Storytelling has its own purpose, yet relates to the other three stages as well. As an example, one author might begin with Storyforming and then continue to Storytelling. Another might begin with Storytelling and then approach Forming. As an example, Author #1 makes a Storyform decision that the Goal of his story should be Obtaining. Then, in Storytelling, he illustrates or employs Obtaining as "The Goal is to Obtain a Buried Treasure." Author #2 might begin in Storytelling, writing, "The Goal is to win Jan's love." Then, developing the structure that supports that story point, the Author #2 approaches Storyforming, and out of all the structural choices, picks "Obtaining" as Storyforming item that best describes his story's Goal. Any given Storyforming item can be illustrated in any number of ways. And, any already illustrated story point might be interpreted as any one of the Storyforming items. Regardless of which order is taken, associating a Storyforming item with an illustrated story point clarifies the dramatic essence of the structure, as illustrated in a given form. This allows an author to more precisely develop the overall story in a consistent and complete manner.


Dramatica Term

the structural and dynamic skeleton of a story

When a story is stripped of all its details and Storytelling, what is left are the appreciations and thematic explorations that make up a Storyform. When a story fully illustrates the Storyform it is working from it will make a complete argument without any "plot holes" because the argument of a story is its Storyform.


Dramatica Term

the process of creating the dramatics of a unique story by arranging structure and dynamics

When an author thinks of the way he wants his story to unfold in terms of the point he wants it to make and how his characters will solve their problems, what that author is doing is Storyforming. Before Dramatica, the tendency was to actually blend the two processes of Storyforming and Storytelling together so that authors thought of what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it more or less simultaneously. But these are really two distinct acts which can be done separately, especially with the help of Dramatica.

Storyforming versus Storytelling

Dramatica Term

the difference between a story's structure and the way it is told

There are two parts to every communication between author and audience: the Storyforming and the Storytelling. Storyforming deals with the actual dramatic structure or blueprint that contains the essence of the entire argument to be made. Storytelling deals with the specific way in which the author chooses to describe that structure to the audience. For example, a story might call for a scene describing the struggle between morality and self-interest. One author might choose to show a man taking candy from a baby. Another might show a member of a lost patrol in the dessert hoarding the last water for himself. Both what is to be illustrated and how it is illustrated fulfill the story's mandate. Another way of appreciating the difference is to imagine five different artists each painting a picture of the same rose. One may look like a Picasso, one a Rembrandt, another like Van Gogh, yet each describes the same rose. Similarly, different authors will choose to tell the same Storyform in dramatically different ways.


Dramatica Term

the process of communicating a story's dramatic structure through the developing and unfolding of symbols, events, and scenarios

We've all heard good jokes told poorly. We've all heard terrible jokes told well. When a good joke is told well, everything works together. When a bad joke is told poorly, nothing can save it. Part of what makes up a story is the underlying dramatic structure. Another part is the manner in which that structure is expressed. In a sense, Structure represents the Craft of writing, and Storytelling represents the Art. The structure itself is always invisible in the story, for it is the conceptual framework connecting all the dramatic potentials. What is visible is the embodiment of that structure in scenarios, events, and symbols, which collectively constitute the Storytelling. Storytelling, therefore, must do two jobs: entertain the audience through clever presentation and be focused enough to accurately convey the underlying structure.


Dramatica Term

the process of unfolding a story's dramatic structure over time

There are four stages in the process of communication from author to audience. They are: Storyforming, Storyencoding, Storyweaving, and Story Reception. Storyforming establishes the underly ing dramatic structure of a story. Storyencoding turns raw story points into specific scenarios, events, and dialog. Storyweaving determines how the illustrated story points will be revealed or unfolded to the audience. Story Reception refines the story to tailor it for a specific audience. Storyweaving has two aspects: Exposition and Expression. Exposition determines how information about the story will be doled out to the audience. Expression implements the Exposition in specific words, events, dialog, music, visuals, etc. When approaching Storyweaving it helps to know in advance what the story is about. Otherwise, one is trying to arrive at a consistency in presentation at the same time one is trying to determine what, in fact, ought to be presented. The Exposition aspect takes stock of all the story points and information that must be conveyed to the audience, including progressions of events which must occur in a particular order for the story to make logistic sense. Then, a plan for revealing this information is worked out so that some story points are presented directly, others are doled out over the course of the story, others are hidden, and still others are designed to first mislead the audience and then expose the fact of the matter. The Expression aspect is the most creative part of authorship. It is here that a novelist writes the actual chapters, or a Playwright pens the specific dialog. Even when the manner in which Exposition is to occur is known, the means of Expression has yet to be determined. For example, if the Exposition plan has been to reveal an important event in the backstory through a flashback, an author might choose to Express that event and the manner in which the flashback occurs in any number of ways. Collectively, Exposition and Expression translate what a story is about into the linear progression of how the story unfolds and is revealed through Storyweaving.


Variation Analysis ↔ Strategy

a plan to achieve one's purpose or a plan of response

The specific plan or series of interconnected plans that are intended to produce a desired result is called a Strategy. The sophistication of a strategy can range from complex to non-existent (if a character prefers to wing it). Sometimes a strategy is on the mark, other times it is completely inappropriate to its intended purpose. Either way, for the audience to appreciate its apt or inept construction, the plan must be spelled out in full. In storytelling, Strategy can define limits and draw out parameters for a story. This is a useful variation to use for connecting theme to plot.

syn. scheme, tactic, plan, ploy, decided approach

Structural Semantic Items

Dramatica Term

terminology found in the Dramatica table of story elements

Terminology found in the Dramatica table of story elements, e.g. "Situation (Universe)," "Obtaining," "Memories," "Self Interest," "Faith," "Chaos," etc. These items are divided into four sections: Classes, Elements, Types, and Variations.

Structural Terms

Dramatica Term

Dramatica terms used to describe story structure

These are Dramatica terms used to describe story structure, as opposed to story content. They include terms like "Act," "Quad," and "Dynamic Pair."


Type Preconscious ↔ Subconscious

basic drives and desires

Subconscious describes the essential feelings that form the foundation of character. These feelings are so basic that a character is often not aware of what they truly are. When the Subconscious is involved, a character is moved right to the fiber of his being.

syn. libido, id, basic motivations, basic drives, anima

Subjective Story Benchmark


the standard by which growth is measured in the Subjective Story Throughline

The Subjective Story Throughline Benchmark is the gauge that tells people how far along the Subjective Story Throughline has progressed. It can't say how much longer the story may go, but in regards to seeing how far away the concerns are, both the Main and Obstacle Characters, as well as the audience, will look to the benchmark in order to make any kind of judgment. This Type item describes the nature of the measuring stick which will be used in the Subjective Story Throughline.

Subjective Story Catalyst


the item that acts as the catalyst to move the Subjective Story Throughline forward

The Subjective Story Throughline Catalyst is what creates breakthroughs and seems to accelerate the Subjective Story Throughline. In both the Objective Story and Subjective Story Throughline there occur dramatic "log-jams" when things seem to be approaching a halt. This is when the Catalyst is necessary, for its introduction will either solve the puzzle that's holding things up or else make the puzzle seem suddenly unimportant so the story can continue.

Subjective Story Character’s Throughline


the story as it relates to the relationship and conflict between the Main and Obstacle Characters

The passionate argument of a story is carried by the relationship between the story's Subjective Story Characters namely, the Main and Obstacle Characters. The examination of their internal states and the articulation of the story's passionate argument makes up the Subjective Story Throughline. This is not the view from within the shoes of either the Main or Obstacle Characters, but is rather like an Objective view of their relationship. It is a view of their story together which always sees both of them.

Subjective Story Concern


the area of concern between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character

The nature of the things which the Main and Obstacle Characters want from their relationship; the Subjective Story Throughline Concern describes how the audience sees the concern of the Main and Obstacle character's relationship with each other.

Subjective Story Domain


the general area in which the Subjective Story Throughline takes place

There are four Throughlines in every complete story, each representing a different perspective in the structure of that story. One is assigned to the Objective Story Throughline and contains the story points attributed to the dispassionate argument of the story while also describing the area in which the Objective Story occurs. Another is for the Subjective Story Throughline and contains the story points which concern the passionate argument of the story and describe the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters. The Main and Obstacle Character are each assigned Throughlines as well, which contain the story points attributed to their characters and describe the areas in which they each operate. Each Throughline is the matching of a particular Class (either Universe, Physics, Psychology, or Mind) with a particular throughline (either Objective Story, Main Character, Obstacle Character, or Subjective Story). Each Throughline describes the general area in which the problems of its throughline will lie and from what perspective the audience will be directed to view those problems. Throughlines determine large, genre-like positions in the relationship of audience to story.

Subjective Story Inhibitor


the item that impedes the Subjective Story Throughline's progress

The Subjective Story Throughline Inhibitor is what prevents the Subjective Story Throughline from just rushing full speed to the solution. It is like a brake mechanism which can be applied as the author pleases. The introduction of this item will always slow the progress of the Subjective Story Throughline. It works as the antidote to the Subjective Story Throughline Catalyst.

Subjective Story Issue


the thematic focus between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character

The nature of the activities which make up the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters which is the Subjective Story Throughline is described by this item. The Subjective Story Throughline Issue describes the way the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters will work thematically in the Grand Argument of the story, so at the same time it generally describes the kinds of things that will pop up to illustrate this theme.

Subjective Story Problem


the underlying cause of the difficulties between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character

This is the actual source of the inequity between the Subjective Story Throughline Characters which lies at the level of their motivations. Only by applying the Subjective Story Throughline Solution can the effects of this inequity finally be dealt with.

Subjective Story Response


the direction of efforts in the Subjective Story Throughline; the apparent remedy for the symptom of the difficulties between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character

Subjective Story Throughline Characters do the best they can to deal with the Subjective Story Throughline Problem, but because the Main and Obstacle Characters are all looking at the problem from their subjective points of view, they can't get enough distance to actually see the problem right away. Instead they focus on the effects of the problem, which is called the Subjective Story Throughline Symptom, and choose to follow what they feel will be a remedy, which is called the Subjective Story Throughline Response.

Subjective Story Solution


the specific element needed to resolve the difficulties between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character

This is the item which will, if introduced, restore balance in the Subjective Story Throughline and neutralize the effects of the Problem by replacing it. It may not be actually implemented, but if it were adopted in the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters, it would end the source of their conflict and change their relationship.

Subjective Story Symptom


the principal symptom of the difficulties between the Main Character and the Obstacle Character, where attention is focused in the Subjective Story Throughline

When there is a problem in the relationship between the Main and Obstacle character, they look at it from their subjective point of view and cannot see its actual nature because it lies on the level of their motivations. Instead they focus their attention on what they believe to be the source of their problems which is really an effect of the problem. This area is called the Subjective Story Throughline Symptom.

Subjective Story Type Order

Structural Term

the kind of activity employed to arrive at a solution to the story's Subjective Story Throughline problem, act by act

As the Subjective Story Throughline progresses act by act, it covers the Subjective Story Throughline Perspective (the Perspective created by matching the Subjective Story Throughline Domain with one of the four Classes) Type by Type around the quad of Types which it contains. These four explorations make up the four acts and describe the kinds of things that will have to happen in order to arrive face to face with the Subjective Story Throughline Problem.



a less developed story hinged to the main story

Subplots are often misunderstood to be secondary subordinate stories running in parallel to the main story. Such secondary stories are a valid storytelling technique but they are not Subplots. A Subplot in not a separate independent story but an amplification of a branch or aspect of the main story. Each Subplot is, indeed, a story in its own right but it is connected to the main story through one of the Overall (Objective) story characters. This Overall (Objective) story character does double duty as the Main Character (a Subjective character) in the subplot. As a result, it is inappropriate to hinge a subplot around either the Main or Impact Characters of the main story as the two story lines would become blurred and create confusion as to the message intended. In order to keep Subplots from appearing to be the main story, it is important to draw them with less detail. This does not mean they should be incomplete or sketchy, rather that the Subplot should be explored in less depth. There can be as many Subplots as there are Overall (Objective) story characters. A large number of subplots will become unwieldy, however, and can needlessly complicate the telling of a story, blurring or diverting the audience's understanding of the main story. Similar to the Main Character of the main story, the Main Characters of the subplots should be limited to one story each. Not all "multiple plot" stories consist of subplots attached to a main plot. Frequently in serial programs such as soap operas, certain forms of episodic television, and some written serials such as comic strips, several complete stories run in parallel, connected only by their common setting or by using the same ensemble of characters. In this form of storytelling, characters do double duty, playing multiple roles in a number of separate plots which really do not directly affect each other. The point of note is that an author should be aware of the difference between subplot and multiple plot constructions so that the proper dramatic connections can be made to create the greatest impact.


Plot Dynamic

the original goal is achieved

Every objective storyline in a Grand Argument Story has at its beginning a desired outcome to be sought after. Ultimately, the characters will either Succeed in achieving that outcome or fail to do so. However, Success is not always a good thing. For example, it may be that a character succeeds at something hurtful or evil. Even a well intentioned character might achieve something that he is unaware will cause harm. Whatever its quality, worth or ramifications, if the outcome desired at the story's beginning is achieved, the story ends in Success.


Element Oppose ↔ Support

an indirect assistance given to another's efforts

Support is not direct help. Direct help is actively joining someone in an effort. Support is aiding the effort without actually participating in it. For example, a character possessing the Help characteristic would join someone in digging a ditch. The character representing Support would provide a shovel and cheer them on. Support is a fine thing to keep one's spirits up, but is awfully frustrating when you just need someone to lend you a hand.

syn. commend, extol, endorse, back, compliment, laud


Variation Evidence ↔ Suspicion

questioning a belief based on evidence

Suspicion is a preliminary conclusion arrived at with insufficient evidence. It is valuable in helping one know what kinds of things to look for in gathering additional evidence. But it can also be a detriment because once a character suspects something, he is less likely to examine all the evidence for a completely alternative explanation.

syn. wary approach, partially justified apprehensiveness, informed doubt, doubt based on evidence, sensible caution


Overview Appreciation

the audience will care about the Main Character, but it will not identify with him

Sympathy describes the relationship of the audience to a Main Character whom it cares about yet does not identify with. To identify with the Main Character, empathy is needed, but some story forms do not allow for empathy from either male or female audiences, and some exclude both at once. But sympathy can still be a strong emotion, and creating a storyform which will elicit sympathy can be a way to emphasize the intricacies in a story's storytelling and Overall Story elements rather than its emotional side.



the principal symptom of the story problem

When a Main Character is at odds with his surroundings, a problem exists between himself and his environment. The actual nature of this gap between Main Character and environment is described by the Problem Element. The nature of what is required to restore balance is described by the Solution Element. This is the Overall view of the problem. The Main Character, however, is not privy to that view but must work from his personal view instead. From this view, the problem does not appear to be between the Main Character and the Environment, but wholly in one or the other. Sometimes a Main Character is a "Do-er" type and will perceive and first try to solve the problem in the environment. Other times a Main Character is a "Be-er" who will first try to solve the problem by adapting to the environment. A "Do-er" focuses the problem in the environment; a "Be-er" focuses the problem in himself. The Symptom Element describes the nature of how the problem appears to the Main Character when he places it wholly in one area or the other.

Symptom Element


the element a subjective character perceives to be their problem

A Subjective Character can never be sure if what he believes to be the source of the problem really is the source of the problem. Regardless, based on his belief he will determine a potential solution or Response in which he hopes to find the solution. The dramatic unit that describes what a Subjective Character holds as the path to a solution is his Response Element.