Dramatica Theory (Annotated) Part 1 “A Place to Start”

Excerpted from Dramatica: A New Theory of Story (Annotated)

Mastering the craft of writing requires a skill in communication and a flair for style. Through communication, an audience receives meaning. Through style, an author achieves impact. The Dramatica theory of story explores both aspects of the writing process providing structural guidelines for clarifying communication and artistic techniques for enhancing style.

Accordingly, this book is divided into two principal sections: The Elements of Structure and The Art of Storytelling. Separating these two aspects of the writing craft allows us to see more deeply into each. This arrangement also splits the experience of writing into two parts, when in practice, they are usually blended in a simultaneous effort.

Many other books have been written which explore the blended creative process. In contrast, this is a book of theory, and is designed more to educate, than to inspire. Still, the motivation to write is one of inspiration. So, before we rush headlong into a detailed, accurate, and revolutionary explanation of story, let us put everything in context by describing the relationship of Dramatica with the Creative Writer.


In the twenty years since we first published Dramatica: A New Theory of Story, the concepts we described have not only changed the landscape of how story structure is seen, but have provided a new conceptualization of narrative itself.

Today, Dramatica Theory is applied not only to fiction but is also employed to analyze people and organizations in the real world.  We have now come to recognize that the underlying structure and dynamics of outlined in the original book are an accurate model of how individuals and groups actually function beneath all the passion and pageantry.

In light of this growing appreciation of the connection between fictional and real narratives, I am publishing this new annotated edition of the theory book with additional thoughts and insights into how narrative both shapes and reflects our minds, and how when we come together we self-organize into a collective mind.

–Melanie Anne Phillips

Structure your story with Dramatica software…