Sequences, Variations, and Acts

A Dramatica user just asked:

I have reached a small roadblock in reference to SEQUENCE, in terms of a division of ACT and organization of SCENE. The term is not covered in your Dramaticapedia pages nor in your theory book online. I have an old reference manual (I bought the product in 2005) that covers the issue somewhat. It seems like an important concept to me since I am writing a novel.

I am confused about your use of Sequence as you talk about 4-ACT structure, since you talk about the Concern being looked at from the VARS of each type as it sequences through the 4 acts. Does this mean that in BEING you are looking at (CONCERN=BECOMING) as judged by [knowledge ability desire and thought]? Or am I judging BEING through those four variations:    as in     (BEING [knowledge, ability, desire & thought]) and applying that to BECOMING? 

When I look at this second interpretation it makes more sense, but I don’t want to force myself into overburdened complication (which I have a tendency to do).

My reply:

Actually, both of your statements are true:

The Concern is valid throughout the entire course of the story, so it is going to be shaded and better understood by experiencing it (learning about it) through all four variations of a given act.

Equally true, the attempt to get to the center of the story’s problem will be enhanced by looking at each Type in each Act through the four Variations of that act.  In this way, by the end of the story the location of the story’s central problem can be triangulated on (or actually quadrangulated, since there are four Acts and four Types).

But, it is not as complex as that sounds.  In truth, because all our minds work alike beneath the level of our personalities, in storytelling, all one must do is make sure that the Concern, each Act’s Type, and each Act’s Variations are all represented.  The reader/audience will assemble that information in the proper place all by itself so that the Variations act as “lenses” to clarify the location of the problem.

So, simply ensure that those elements are in the mix, and your reader/audience will actually do the hard work for you.

Melanie

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