Storytelling

The following  excerpt is taken from

The Dramatica Class Transcripts

Dramatica : Are there any particular areas of story you’d like me to cover? Plot, Character, Theme, Storyforming, etc.

Nawtigrl : Storytelling.

Dramatica : Okay, here’s some information on Storytelling. Stop me if you have any questions, or want to change the subject. First of all, Dramatica theory divides stories into two broad categories: Storyforming and Storytelling. To see the difference, look at West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet Both have essentially the same dramatic structure, but the storyTELLING is quite different.

Nawtigrl : How to handle all the resolutions with all the elements at once to move forward?

Dramatica : Ah! Dramatica has SO MUCH detail about your story, that to try and use it all as a blueprint, would smother your creativity. The heart of creativity is to blend many meanings into a single symbol. What we suggest is, that rather than trying to use the 150 pages of reports and all of the storypoints as a blueprint, just read the reports to get a “feel” for your story. The reports and storypoints are designed to shine some light into the areas you may not always think to look. Then, when you see what’s there, your instincts can take over again.

Nawtigrl : OK, I’m rewriting and ..

Dramatica : So you are coming to Dramatica with an existing draft, and want to know how to get some use out of the software in that case?

Nawtigrl : yes

Dramatica : Okay. When rewriting…authors, in their first draft, often don’t know exactly what they want their story to be, until they have completed the first draft. By following their personal muse, they are able, in the end, to discover the essence of what they want to say.

By that time, however, they have put a lot of work into things that may not all work, in light of the eventual message they discovered. So, the trick is, to locate things that are inconsistent, and things that are missing or redundant. Here’s how you can use the software to do that. There are two different approaches. Number one: go ahead and try to create a storyform that describes your story as you now see it, without actually referring to the draft itself, just from your personal understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

Nawtigrl : I’ve done 3

Dramatica : This works fine for drafts of any number. Once you have a storyform that is just what you wanted to say, then you go into storytelling and try to find parts of your story that “tell” each of the dramatic points you need to make, as indicated in the storyform. If there are points which you can’t find anything in your story that matches then you have left some holes in that draft, which need to be addressed.

By knowing what is missing, and by having done so much work and thinking about the story already, concepts and images that could fill those holes are often not hard to conjure up. You might find, however, (Hi, Dan!) that you have items in your story, which don’t fit anything that is required in your storyform dramatics,

Dan Steele : hi. Traffic!

Dramatica : In that case, those parts of your story are not really part of the drama, and unless the audience is made to understand by the way you present them that they are just entertainment, you may be confusing your own message. But as I mentioned, there is a second approach to rewriting, which I like even better. When you go into the software, go directly into storytelling without creating a storyform. Dramatica will present you with all the same storypoints, (goal, Main Character’s Concern, etc.) but will not have supplied any dramatic items to fill them in.

Goal will not be listed as “obtaining” or “becoming”, for example, but will be left blank. Now, you fill in the storytelling for each of these points, because every complete story is going to have to address them. Then, once you have found or written anew story illustrations that cover all of the dramatic points. You go into storyFORMING mode. When you are in the DQS (Dramatica Query System) If you select Storyforming, and then push the Helpview button in the middle of the screen that says “storytelling”, all of the storytelling you have already entered will show up in the text box beneath the storyFORMING question. In this way, you have your own words, describing your own story as a guide in selecting which of Dramatica’s choices would best describe what you have done.

Start with the story points that are most important to you. Those you are sure to get. But as you move from one question to the next, eventually, you may come to a question in which all the available questions are not appropriate to the storytelling you have already done. At this point, you need to make a decision. One choice would be to scrap what you wrote as being inconsistent, and write something else on that story point, that would be more in line with the available choices that Dramatica predicts you can use and still be consistent with what you have chosen already.

You may only have to rewrite a few scenes to accommodate this. But if your mark was WAY off, and your own biases got the better of you, you may find that there are a number of scenes that need to be rewritten to keep all your ideas in line with one another. But the other choice, is that even though this particular point is not perfectly what it ought to be, it is a meaningful scene to you, the author. And therefore, you might want to keep it in even if it will slightly weaken your argument.

You see, every story point doesn’t carry the same weight. And in different stories, that weight will shift around and redistribute from one story point to another. So, you can choose, for your particular story, to just ignore the inconsistency, and put in the scene or story point because it is entertaining, or fun, or the producer insists, and you will be confident it won’t do a lot of damage, and that the entertainment value might more than make up for it. But, of course, there are some storypoints, that even if you are off the mark a smidgen, it messes up your whole story. These are often crucial story points that occur near the end of your story, where the audience’s trust in you can easily be violated. That’s all on that point.

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