Do-er & Be-er Characters

This is a transcript from an online class in story structure hosted by co-creator of the Dramatica theory of story, Melanie Anne Phillips, signed on as Dramatica:

Dramatica : Okay, time for us to move on to Do-er or Be-er…Dan, you won’t need Dramatica to answer any of these questions, though the software does employ them to “calculate” dramatics. Is your Main Character a Do-er or Be-er? This doesn’t mean active and passive. It doesn’t mean male or femaleIt means, does the Main Character PREFER to work things out through actions or through mental or emotional work?

Be-ers have a bad name in our society. They appear often as victims. But, for example, a mother who must hold on to an appearance for the sake or her children, is doing as much work internally, as someone climbing a mountain. Look at the Dad in the original “Bethoven”, He had this dog tearing apart his house, but he tried to hold it all inside until the problem went away. That’s why it is so powerful when he hits the evil vet! It’s completely unlike him.

Clint Eastwood likes to play both kinds of characters. Dirty Harry is clearly a do-er…act first, think later. But William Muney (in Unforgiven) is a be-er He only kills the young boy to put him out of his misery. When beaten up, he doesn’t respond. (A victim again!) Caine in the original Kung-fu was a be-er. But in our western cultures ideals, he usually just holds out until there is no other way, then beats the tar out of the bad guy. But be-ers can be just as strong. And not resort to the physical. Any more on that question or move on? Move on, I guess!

William S1 : Musn’t one be before one can do? Then one is be-ing and do-ing.

DKahane : Any examples of strong Be-ers?

Dramatica : William, how about when one acts from instinct? Also, when one acts from conditioning. The conditioning is just the network of responses, but does not require conscious consideration. The be-er character must make a conscious effort to resolve the problem by copping an attitude, or by pretending to feel a certain way.

William S1 : Okay.

Dramatica : Passive-aggressive personalities are of this type. And as for a strong be-er, how about Hamlet? All he does is think and try to come to terms!

From the Dramatica Class Transcripts