What can you tell someone new to the theory?

One of my [guest writer Bill Schindler] recent insights is that people make the same mistakes -- over and over -- when learning Dramatica.

I think we'd all agree that Dramatica has a steep learning curve. There are various ways to make the learning curve really steep. Some of the common beginner (and not-so-beginner) problems that make Dramatica harder to learn are:

Not bothering to look up the definitions of the various terms used in Dramatica. Dramatica uses many common words in specialized ways. Assume that you know what Dramatica means by "Reality" or "Chaos" or "Feeling" and you'll find yourself sinking into a dense fog of incomprehension. Look up the words!

Trying to fill in every box and answer every question. Is your goal to "write a story" or to "create a storyform"? Answer questions and fill in boxes, but keep reminding yourself that your real purpose is to write a story. Dramatica isn't a test. You won't get extra points for answering all the questions. You do "win the prize" if you write your story.

Thinking that everything is significant. Study enough of the theory to learn what's important. If you're going to obsess over things, focus on throughlines, the outcome, and your MC's problem, solution, symptom/focus, and direction/response. Let the rest slide until you get those figured out. It's okay. Really. You can write a great story with just that much.

Storyforming forever. When you keep storyforming, you never write anything. You need to write stories to understand how to use Dramatica. Writing also helps you learn how much storyforming you need to do before you've done enough.

But I think the biggest problem is worrying too much: "Is my storyform right?" "How can my MC possibly be Conceptualizing here?" "What do I do with a Crucial Element of Inertia?" etc., etc., etc...

Take a deep breath. Relax. Have some fun. You're telling a story, not performing heart surgery. It's okay to make a few mistakes. Challenge yourself to stretch a little on a couple of the tough points. But it's okay if your structure isn't quite perfect. You can fix it on the next draft. Just start writing.

And remember to have some fun!

Dramatica Story Expert

the next chapter in story development

Buy Now