Plot Sequence Report

Regarding the Plot Sequence Report, should I look at purposes in terms of motivations?

In the Plot Sequence Report found in Dramatica Story Expert, Act I in the Objective Storyline says: "The Past is explored in terms of Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility." So, here's the question: The Past is a Universe Type. Rationalization, Obligation, etc., are Psychology Variations. Does that mean that I should look at the objective characters' purposes in terms of their motivations with regard to the psychology variations?

Purposes and Motivations aren't really pertinent to the Objective Story's Thematic arenas. Rather than looking at what the Characters are doing, keep in mind that the Objective Throughline represents a point of view for the audience. From the objective view they will see not only characters, but plot, theme, and genre as well. Of course, this is most clearly seen in the Storyforming stage, and from encoding onward, the view may not be as consistent or clear.

So the point is, forget about characters when using this report and consider the whole point of view. Using the report this way means that the Act itself centers on an exploration of the Past. In other words, when you are exploring the grand scheme of the big picture of your story in an arm's distance sort of way that gives the audience a change to look at the dynamics involved without being personally involved, THEN you will be examining the Past, in Act 1.

Another way to say this is that all four throughlines will have an area around which they center in Act 1. The Past will be one of those four items that serve as the focus of attention for the audience. In your story, in Act 1, the Past will be looked at Objectively (or impersonally, though not necessarily without feeling.)

Now we add in the thematics. What kind of things about the Past will the audience be looking at? Or, turned around a bit, what measuring sticks will be used to judge things that happened in the Past? The answer is: Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility. These four items describe more specifically than just the notion of "The Past" the areas of interest in the Past that Act 1 will explore most closely from an Objective point of view.

So, look at the wide-ranging plot events, the behaviors that affect or are exhibited by all your characters, the overall genre of your story as it develops in Act 1, and then see that from an Objective sense. Your audience will see these things as all revolving around the Past and being examined in terms of Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility.

How do I make sense of the Plot Sequence Report?

In Dramatica's Plot Sequence Report, Obtaining is said to explore plot in terms of the Variations: Instinct, Senses, Interpretation and Conditioning. In the Table of Story Elements, Obtaining Shows the Variations to be Approach, Self-Interest, Morality and Attitude. Which is correct?

Also, in Reading Mr. Armando Mora's book Dramatica for Screenwriters (Chapter 21,), Obtaining is shown to be achieving or possessing something to be explored in terms of (Variations) Value, Confidence, Worry and Worth. I can find nothing in Dramatica similar to these.

The "proper" arrangement of the Type/Variations is that Approach, Self-Interest, Morality, and Attitude fall under the umbrella of Obtaining in their "natural" state. The thematic items in the Dramatica structure are as close to an "at rest" (meaning no conflict) position as possible.

A storyform shows a somewhat mixed-up version of the thematic elements, but is still fairly much together. The tension is explored/exposed by the relationships of the four throughlines to one another. This is still an "outside" view of the thematic items.

An "inside" view of the storyform—what the world would look like from INSIDE the story—would look much more like the Plot Sequence Report describes, where there's a whole lot of mixing up going on. That is a completely valid point of view, but seems to hold little bearing to the "outside" point of view represented by the Dramatica story engine settings and story points. The Plot Sequence report is the one report in the Dramatica Pro software that gives you an idea of what that world looks like from inside the story.

The reason we did not include more views/insights into the screwed up view of things from inside the story is because it is very difficult to analyze your story from that perspective, largely due to the completely subjective nature of the perspective. Also, most writers have more difficulty getting some objectivity on their material than they do getting inside their material—particularly during the analytical phase of writing. Armando, however, gives some very practical tips on using the "messed up view" provided by the Plot Sequence Report to create scenes.

The reason the variations listed under Obtaining in your story are different than Armando's example is because they are based on different storyforms. Every storyform has all the same parts. It's their arrangement (and therefore their relationships) that differ.