Plot Points in Example Stories


The Story Goal in Hamlet is Memory: Everyone wants to be comfortable with the memory of King Hamlet. Most wish to accomplish this by erasing the memory entirely, but Hamlet wants to keep it alive and painful.

The Story Goal in The Godfather is Obtaining: The Objective Story goal of the Godfather is for the Corleone family to reclaim their place of power and find a new “Godfather” to maintain this status.


The Story Requirements in Hamlet are The Subconscious: Hamlet must get Claudius to expose his true nature, his lust for power and Gertrude, before anyone will believe Hamlet’s accusations.

The Story Requirements in The Godfather are Doing: In order for a new Don Corleone to regain his family’s former stature and power, he must do things which demonstrate his superiority in the rivalry among the New York families. This is accomplished with the hits on Barzini, Tessio, and Moe Green on the day Michael “settles all family business.”


The Story Consequences in Hamlet are The Past: If the memory of King Hamlet is not allowed to rest, a repetition of the past murder will (and does) occur. King Claudius kills Hamlet to maintain his position as king.

The Story Consequences in The Godfather are Becoming: If the Corleone family fails to reclaim their power then they will be forced to become one of the secondary families in the New York crime scene, a fate which hasn’t been theirs for a very long time.


The Story Forewarnings in Hamlet are Becoming: Hamlet starts becoming the crazy person he is pretending to be. This alerts everyone, including King Claudius who plots against Hamlet, that Hamlet will not let the memory of his father die peacefully.

The Story Forewarnings in The Godfather are Progress: When Don Corleone realizes that it was the Barzini family who had been orchestrating his downfall all along, the Barzini’s have already made quite a lot of progress towards becoming the new top family in New York. The progress of the loyalty of other families falling in line with Barzini threatens to cut off Michael’s chance to re-establish his family’s stature.


The Story Dividends in Hamlet are Conceptualizing: There is a general sense of creative freedom among the members of King Claudius’ court exemplified by Polonius’ advice to Laertes on how to take advantage of his trip abroad. Hamlet finds that suddenly many ordinary things can be used to help in his objective of manipulating the truth out of King Claudius, and he takes pleasure in them. The play becomes a trap, every discussion becomes an opportunity to investigate people’s true opinions. These are all dividends of the efforts made in this story.

The Story Dividends in The Godfather are The Future: The struggle in the world of organized crime over how drugs will be distributed is costly, but it lays the ground work for what will one day be their biggest money making industry. Michael’s choice of assassinations that make him New York’s new “Godfather” also ensures his family a safe move to Las Vegas in the future.


The Story Costs in Hamlet are Understanding: In Hamlet, understanding is seen as a high price to pay — sometimes too high. King Claudius comes to the understanding that Hamlet is on to him and won’t stop pushing until his father’s death is avenged; Ophelia comes to the understanding that Hamlet does not love her and is also responsible for her father’s death, so she loses her mind; Queen Gertrude comes to the understanding that her son is probably insane and her new husband is a murderer; etc.

The Story Costs in The Godfather are The Subconscious: As the struggle for power in New York’s underground continues, all of the people involved suffer emotional damage which hits them in their subconscious. For example, Tom’s pain over the fact that he is not really the Don’s son is exacerbated by the death of Sonny; Don Corleone suffers for the future of his family as his sons are killed or forced to become criminals like himself; Sonny is forced to suffer the insult of living with a brother-in-law who beats Sonny’s sister; the “Turk” is forced into a traumatic position when the Don is only wounded during a murder attempt; Kaye is forced to bury her suspicions that her husband is involved in organized crime.


The Prerequisites in Hamlet are The Future: Before Hamlet can begin the work of exposing Claudius, he must know when the appropriate people will be around so he can put his plans (such as the play) into place.

The Prerequisites in The Godfather are Being: Because Michael, the new candidate for the title of Don Corleone, had intended to avoid being in his family’s business, others are forced to temporarily fill in the vacancy left by his wounded father. Michael himself believes he is temporarily becoming involved with the Mafia up until the point when he has truly become the new “Godfather.”


Preconditions in Hamlet are Obtaining: Hamlet needs hard evidence of his uncle’s murderous actions — his own preconditions are that he cannot allow himself to go on the word of the Ghost alone.

Preconditions in The Godfather are The Preconscious: In order for someone to be a good Don, they have to have the correct kinds of immediate responses. Sonny was “not a good Don,” because he was too hot-headed. A precondition, which Michael fulfills, is that he have the instincts to guide the family well. He demonstrates these when he has no frightened responses while protecting his father at the hospital and when he immediately insists on killing the “Turk” himself; once again when he accepts the news of Tessio’s betrayal without blinking an eye or betraying himself at any point through Preconscious reactions; etc. When Sonny’s hot-headed attempts to muscle the Corleone’s back to the top failed, it became apparent that there are preconditions set as to who could be the next “Godfather.” Only someone with a steel control over his Preconscious responses could be cool enough to successfully lead the Corleone family back to prominence.

From the Dramatica Theory Book