The Dramatica Theory
A Conversation on Story Structure
by Melanie Anne Phillips
1.1 Introducing the Story Mind
Every story has a mind of its own, as if it were a person. Like each of us, this Story Mind has a personality and an underlying psychology. Its personality is developed through the storytelling style, and its psychology is determined by the story’s structure.
Characters, plot, theme, and genre, therefore, must do double-duty. For example, in storytelling characters depict real people so that the readers or audience might identify with them and thereby become personally involved in the entertainment and, perhaps, internalize the message.
Structurally, however, characters represent our own conflicting motivations, made tangible, incarnate, so that we might directly observe the mechanisms of our own minds, see them from the outside in, and thereby gain a better understanding of how to solve similar problems in our own lives.
Storytelling is an art, and while there may be generalized rules for how best to relate the content of a story, they are really more like guidelines. In truth, there are as many different styles of storytelling as there are authors.
Story structure, on the other hand, is a science, and though there may be an extensive variety of possible structures, they all must abide by very specific rules as to which dramatic elements must be present and for how they may be cobbled together.