Story Goal vs. Signposts

I have always thought a goal of the story should show up at the end of the story. However after playing around with Dramatica I often find the goal showing up as the first second or third signpost. How should I interpret this?

The story goal is a SPECIFIC instance of the Overall Story Concern (or Signpost) about which the Overall Story characters represent differing approaches to achieving it by resolving the underlying conflict.  The Story Goal should be explored in each of the four acts (signposts) of the Overall Story throughline followed by the resolution of the effort to achieve the goal identified by the Story Outcome (Success or Failure) somewhere toward the end of the story.

The Overall Story Signposts describe the various approaches toward achieving the goal while also exploring the alternatives, one of which is of the same nature (Type) as the story goal. 

For example, your story might have a Story Goal of OBTAINING, such as Finding the Lost Treasure.  It will also have an Overall Story Concern of OBTAINING, which is a more generalized concern that might include finding a map, winning the lottery, losing an election, losing a job, etc.  The various Overall Story Characters, some concerned with one thing while the others concerned with the other things, explore these in general. 

The signposts provide a broad context for a period of time in the story (an Act) that frames the effort to achieve the specific Story Goal, broad Overall Story Concern, and resolve the story's OS Problem(s). The Signpost that explores Obtaining might be thought of as "what do the characters gain or lose while trying to find the lost treasure?"  Another signpost -- such as Gathering Information/Learning -- might be thought of "what do the characters learn or what information is gathered while trying to find the lost treasure?" Thus all four acts are explored through the signposts within each throughline. 

There is no general difference if the Type (the structural item associated with the Story Goal and OS Concern and one of the Overall Story Signposts) shows up in the first, second, third, or last signpost.  The difference is the context in which the Type is found: whether it is the narrow focus of the Story Goal, the general area of the Overall Story Concern, or the temporary context provided by the Overall Story Signposts.

Can Memories include imaginings and envisionings of future and present?

Memory is about recalling and forgetting. In most stories, memories are about something that has happened in the past and is being recalled or forgotten. Daydreaming about the future is still about the future, and daydreaming would not be considered recalling something or forgetting something.

Daydreaming aside, there are exceptions in special circumstances where events of the present or future may appear as memories.

If you have someone traveling outside of "normal" time, then it might be possible that memory could reflect recollections of something in the present or future. For example, the films Timecop and Millenium have main characters/protagonists that travel back and forth through time. There are points where these characters' personal timelines are at odds with the Overall Story timelines. Things they should remember that have happened in the OS and which they are part of (as protagonists) in the Overall Story timeline, have not yet occurred in their own main character throughline yet. Meanwhile, other times these main characters remember things in their throughline that have not yet happened in the OS throughline.

The trick to using memory in this non-linear fashion is to make sure the audience understands this non-traditional use of "memories," as well as making sure the audience does not confuse the memories with the Future, Present, etc. I remember quite a number of people were confused by Timecop because of the non-traditional flow of time. It was complicated by the "present" constantly being affected by changing events in the "past", as well as events in the present and past affecting the "future."

Another example appears the current season of Fringe. In it a character that was in the previous season was erased from history. This season, that same character pops up again, but other characters have no memory of the character, whereas this character's memories of the present challenge everyone else's understanding of the world. This is a more traditional use of memory, but it often borders on matters of the "present" and "future."

So, the short answer is that it can be done, but having memories of the present or future are unconventional, difficult to convey, and probably should be avoided unless you're telling a genre story that allows for non-linear use of time and memory.

Can you clarify the difference between the Goal and the Concern?

In "story goal" and "story goal explained" (see help: index: goal), Dramatica states that the story goal is said to "share the same Type as the Objective Story Concern" and "be of the same nature as the Concern of one of the four Domains."

Don't these two statements contradict themselves?

To complicate matters further, the Dramatica Dictionary says that the Goal is, in part, "that which the protagonist hopes to achieve." I am, therefore, still not clear on whether or not the story goal is a concern that stems from the objective story domain (class; throughline), any of the other domains, or simply "that which the protagonist hopes to achieve."

Since the protagonist is an Objective Story throughline character, it is natural that he would be involved with the story goal which is, structurally speaking, located in the same Type as the Objective Story Concern. This is particularly true in the software implementation of Dramatica.

The confusion seems to stem from the implication that the "Story Goal" can be something other than the same Type as the Objective Story Concern. The simple answer is "no," they must be one and the same (though the storytelling for each will be different).

Why then does the theory book say that the story goal will "be of the same nature as the Concern of ONE of the FOUR Domains?" I'll try to explain.

First of all, each of the throughlines has a Concern. Though it is not explicitly stated, the implication of the theory is that each of the four throughlines can have its own goal. This means the Overall Story throughline might have a goal, the Main Character throughline might have a goal, the Impact (Obstacle) character throughline might have a goal, and the MC v. IC (Subjective Story) throughline might have a goal.

Secondly, when you determine a Concern for one throughline, you effectively determine the Concerns for all four throughlines. Structurally speaking, the quad position of the concern in a given domain/throughline on the chart will be the same for all of the concerns. For example, if you choose "The Past" as one throughline's Concern, then you are also choosing "Memory," "Understanding," and "Conceptualizing" for the other Concerns. That is why we wrote that the story goal will "be of the same nature" as the other Concerns.

What, then would be the "Story" goal?

In general terms, the Overall (Objective) Story throughline "goal" is most akin to the traditional, non-Dramatica definition of Goal. When examining specific individual works, however, the Overall Story throughline is often NOT the most emphasized throughline and therefore doesn't necessarily have the greatest prominence in the storytelling. In such a story, the "goal" of the most emphasized throughline may appear to be the "Story Goal."

So, the confusion grows out of two standards of reference when defining "Story Goal." If you use the "traditional" definition, then the Overall Story Concern will be the same as the Story Goal. If you base the definition on the throughline with the greatest emphasis, then ONE of any of the throughline Concerns would be the Story Goal if it is in the throughline with the greatest emphasis.

Which point of reference is right? If your working with the Dramatica software, then the Story Goal will always be the same Type as that of the Objective (Overall) Story Concern. The other point of reference is helpful in understanding why the goal that seems to be most important in the "story" may not be tied to the efforts of the protagonist, antagonist, and other characters' efforts in the Overall Story throughline.

Why does Dramatica force a Concern for some throughlines?

For some reason, when I select a Concern for one throughline the program picks the Concerns for the remaining three throughlines. Why is that?

When you choose a throughline Concern (e.g. Main Character Concern, or Objective Story Concern), you are automatically choosing the Concerns for the other three throughlines. If you look at the Dramatica Structural map, the relative position of the Concern you choose will be the same for all four Concerns. For example, if you choose FUTURE (lower, left-hand corner) as one of the throughline Concerns, the three other Concerns will be OBTAINING, SUBCONSCIOUS, and BECOMING. If you choose a Concern of PAST (upper, left-hand corner), the other three Concerns will be UNDERSTANDING, MEMORY, and CONCEPTUALIZING.