Graphic Novel Themes & Dramatica

A writer asks:

Hello.  I’ve been using Dramatica Pro for about a year now.  I’m developing a script for a graphic novel. (It may in fact be a series of three)  I used [Dramatica’s] query engine in the early stages of development and have spent several months now writing (and drawing) deeper into the concept.  I’m looking for practical suggestions for how to work back in DP:  I still have not found the ONE storyform and instead am working between 3 storyforms as each one suggests thematic conflicts that describe the story in a very useful way.  Do you have any suggestions for using specific reports or processes for working with three storyforms?   There are so many ways to work with the program that I always feel I am overlooking some obvious tools…for example there may be a way to work with a particular set of reports.  

Best Wishes,

My reply:

Hi, Louise.

The key is to note that each of Dramatica’s four throughlines has its own theme and its own thematic conflict. So, Main Character, Obstacle Character, Objective Story, and Subjective Story will each deal with different thematic issues.

This means you actually have four themes in every story form. They aren’t independent though – each is like a harmonic of the others. If a single theme hits a particular note, all four themes work in concert to create a chord. That’s why the four themes need to relate to each other in very specific ways.

So, you may find that if you look at all four throughlines, the three major themes you want to explore are already there.

Alternatively, many novels, especially graphic novels, are not really single stories but works in which a number of individual stories intertwine. As a result, there is not going to be a single storyform for the entire novel. Rather, each of the separate stories needs to be developed with its own storyform to ensure that its internal structural logic is complete and makes sense.

How these stories are woven together is really a storytelling decision – not a structural one, as long as each story makes sense and feels right in and of itself.

As for reports in Dramatica Pro, the “All Themes” report and the “Four Throughlines” report should help. You can also get the information your are looking for in the Story Points window for your storyform.