Dramatica…I Don’t Get It

I just read about 2/3 of the theory book, which although complicated was clear and understandable. I was very interested to see how all that theory would be implemented through the software. I also watched and understood all of the video tutorials you have available on your site. As suggested on your site, I dipped my toe in by opening a new file and answering the Level One Story Guide questions for a pretend story. I did this twice, actually.

Having done all that, I confess I have no idea at all how the Dramatica software would ever help me create a story. I can only enter the information I already know, and I didn't see anything that was even remotely suggestive as to how I might think about going from there. I don't see how the dynamics and interrelationships described in the theory show up to help me as a creative tool.

Obviously I'm missing something, but I just don't get it at all, and that's disappointing after putting in the time to read the theory and orient myself to the software as recommended. So is it hopeless, or is there anything you can tell me or point me toward that might help me see whatever it is I don't get?

Thank you for your perseverance. To be sure, there is a 'there' there (to misquote Gerturde Stein).

First the caveats, then the answer I believe you seek.


First off, StoryGuide Level 1 is nearly the most simplistic way to get to a storyform and explore a bare minimum of what Dramatica has to offer in terms of illustrating those limited story points.  It's meant to be training wheels, and if you're an experienced writer--as I assume you are--it is far too simplistic to seem useful.

Secondly, the StoryGuide Level 1 is one of many tools in the software, all of which are more sophisticated and in depth.  Judging the extent of the software's usefulness by StoryGuide Level 1 is like judging the English language by learning the alphabet (Okay, maybe that's a stretch but you get my gist).


I believe you are unaware of what Dramatica did when you went through the StoryGuide Level 1.  Apart from asking you to fill in blanks about your story, the StoryGuide asked you to answer eleven storyforming, multiple-choice questions.  All of those storyforming questions related to either the 'big picture' Overall Story throughline or the Main Character. Some were dynamics questions while others were structural questions. Asking you to identify aspects of the story you already know may be clarifying but hardly warrants an expensive piece of software like Dramatica.

So what DID Dramatica bring to the table?  In addition to the eleven choices you made and the illustrations you added, Dramatica asked you to illustrate an additional ten story points (out of a total of 80+ story points in a storyform) based on the implications of YOUR choices. Specifically, all the story points about the Influence/Impact Character were determined by the storyform, as were the story points relating to the MC/IC Relationship throughline.  So instead of asking generic questions for you to illustrate those topics, Dramatica asks specific questions, e.g. "Describe how [the IC] Chuck's influence on Barry [the MC] concerns Innermost Desires".

The value of this is not obvious when you're making up a story that lacks any personal meaning for you.  Imagine, however, that you're working through YOUR story and are having troubles with:

  • Fleshing out a story
  • Having holes in the story
  • Having a story that 'doesn't' work
  • Having no idea how elements of your story can work together

THAT'S when using Dramatica is of greatest value. Dramatica indicates how to fill in those holes and identifies what is necessary for the story to make a complete argument to your audience -- to make your point as an author.

Let's face it, if you don't have any problems developing and writing your stories, then Dramatica is not going to be of much use to you except in an esoteric sense.  Dramatica is there to help tune up your writer's instincts and lend a hand when you need an objective third party (such as a writing partner) to show you what is or is not working in your story

Follow-up discussion: Dramatica...I Still Don't Get It

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