Category Archives: General Features

Questions About Dramatica’s Features

A teacher of writers recently asked:

  • Does Dramatica include a database structure for building character files? Too me it seems this would be an important story building concept that a computer could offer with great advantage; the ability to collect character names, traits, histories, personalities etc.
  • Are there other database structures for collections of titles, dialog, story starters, first line hooks, etc? 
  •  Is there an outline structure regarding acts or scenes and the order of events?
  •  From my experience in writing classes two important difficulties always seem to come to light. Point of view and order of events (plotting the story with Beginning, Middle, & End). Does Dramatica help with these trouble areas?

My reply:

In answer to your questions, though Dramatica is all about the Story Engine, it does have a data base of character names and information and a few pre-built stereotypes to start from.

While it doesn’t have story starters per se, it ships with about 70 example files of notable movies, books, teleplays and stage plays.  Each can be used for ideas, and there’s even a feature that lets you strip out all the identifiable storytelling and subject matter leaving nothing but the bare bones structure.  You can then use that to build your own story since structure is just the blueprint and the storytelling makes it your own.

There are also built-in scene by scene and chapter by chapter templates for a novel or a screenplay to give you some timeline guidance if you wish.

As for the “trouble points” you list, point of view and timeline issues are the center and purpose of Dramatica.  Each story point is defined not just by what the subject matter is, but how you want to position your readers or audience in relation to each issue.  And characters are all defined by their points of view as well.  Plus, Dramatica can actually predict what should happen in act two, based on other information you’ve provided about your story’s underlying message argument.

Using Dramatica Software


The Dramatica Pro 4 Desktop – Part 1 – The Story Guide
Learn how the Story Guide feature takes you from concept to completed structure, step by step.
The Dramatica Pro 4 Desktop – Part 2 – The Help System
Here you’ll learn all about how to structure stories and how to use all of Dramatica Pro’s story development features.
The Dramatica Pro 4 Desktop – Part 3 – Story Examples
Dramatica Pro ships with over 60 extensive pre-built story structures based on successful popular and classic books, movies, stage plays and television programs.

Using Dramatica’s Plot Sequence Report

  A Dramatica User Asks…

In my Storyform reports in Dramatica Pro, ACT I in the Objective Storyline says: “The Past is explored in terms of Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility.” So, here’s the question. The Past is a Universe Type. Rationalization, Obligation, etc., are Psychology Variations. Does that mean that I should look at the objective characters’ purposes in terms of their motivations with regard to the psychology variations?

My Reply…

Purposes and Motivations aren’t really pertinent to the Objective Story’s Thematic arenas. Rather than looking at what the Characters are doing, keep in mind that the Objective Throughline represents a point of view for the audience. From the objective view they will see not only characters, but plot, theme, and genre as well. Of course, this is most clearly seen in the Storyforming stage, and from encoding onward, the view may not be as consistent or clear.

So the point is, forget about characters when using this report and consider the whole point of view. Using the report this way means that the Act itself centers on an exploration of the Past. In other words, when you are exploring the grand scheme of the big picture of your story in an arm’s distance sort of way that gives the audience a change to look at the dynamics involved without being personally involved, THEN you will be examining the Past, in Act 1.

Another way to say this is that all four throughlines will have an area around which they center in Act 1. The Past will be one of those four items that serve as the focus of attention for the audience. In your story, in Act 1, the Past will be looked at Objectively (or impersonally, though not necessarily without feeling.)

Now we add in the thematics. What kind of things about the Past will the audience be looking at? Or, turned around a bit, what measuring sticks will be used to judge things that happened in the Past? The answer is: Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility. These four items describe more specifically than just the notion of “The Past” the areas of interest in the Past that Act 1 will explore most closely from an Objective point of view.

So, look at the wide-ranging plot events, the behaviors that affect or are exhibited by all your characters, the overall genre of your story as it develops in Act 1, and then see that from an Objective sense. Your audience will see these things as all revolving around the Past and being examined in terms of Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility.