Excerpted from the Book “Dramatica Unplugged”
By Melanie Anne Phillips, Co-creator of Dramatica
Dramatica is a theory of story structure and a method of developing stories. Since its debut in 1991, hundreds of thousands of writers have studied and applied Dramatica’s concepts on novels, movies and television.
Dramatica Unplugged is a conversational exploration of Dramatica with an emphasis on practical concepts you can instantly apply to improve your story’s structure and your storytelling techniques.
1.1 Introducing the Story Mind
The central concept in Dramatica is called “The Story Mind.” It is what makes Dramatica unique. Dramatica says that every complete story is an analogy to a single human mind trying to deal with an inequity.
That’s quite a mouthful, but all it really means is that a story structure is a model of the mind’s problem solving process. It means that all the dramatic elements of a story are actually psychological aspects of the human mind.
This is not the mind of the author, reader or audience, but of the story itself – a mind created symbolically in the process of communicating across a medium. It is a mind for the audience to look at, understand, and then occupy.
Moreover, characters, plot, theme, and genre are not just a bunch of people doing things with value standards in an overall setting. Rather, characters, plot, theme, and genre are different families of thought that occur in the Story Mind, in fact, in our own minds.
In story structure, these thoughts are made tangible, incarnate, so that the audience members might look into the mechanisms of their own minds, see them from the outside in, and thereby gain an understanding of how to solve similar problems in their own lives.