Dramatica Dictionary: B

The Dramatica Dictionary

Developed and Written by
Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley


Backstory • [Storytelling] • Although often embellished greatly in the storytelling, Backstory is nothing more than a description of how a Main Character’s justification built up over time, leading him to intersect with the story’s problem, or how a story problem developed over time, leading it to intersect with the Main Character. Backstory outlines the sequence of events and the combination of forces that make the Main Character the central connecting point between the subjective and objective problem. Backstory need not be presented to the audience as it is not essential to the story’s argument about how to or how not to solve a problem. However, inclusion of Backstory can offer the additional benefits of showing the audience how to avoid the problem before it becomes a problem. Sometimes Backstory is presented at the beginning of storytelling, making it appear to be part of the story itself into which it can smoothly and seamlessly segue. More often, Backstory is explored episodically in Flashbacks or through other forms of revelation. Sometimes the focus of the storytelling is on the Backstory itself and the story is told episodically through flashforwards. Even more complex implementations not only present Backstory episodically but also out of order, leaving it to the audience to ultimately put the pieces together and thereby solve a riddle necessary to solving the problem of the story itself.

Bad • [Plot Dynamic] • The Main Character ultimately fails in resolving his personal problems • If at the end of the story the Main character is still nagged by his personal problem, then the judgment of the story can be considered bad. Even though the effort to achieve the story’s goal may result in success, this is not necessarily a good thing for the Main Character. In fact success might be obtained in the objective story even though the Main Character fails to resolve his personal problems. Conversely, the effort to achieve the story goal might end in failure, yet with the Main Character ultimately overcoming his personal problems. Regardless of whether the objective story ends in Success or Failure, if the Main Character fails to resolve his personal problems, the outcome is deemed Bad.

Be-er • [Character Dynamic] • The Main Character prefers to work things out internally • Every Main Character will have a preference to deal with problems by either physical effort or by mental/emotional effort. When a Main Character prefers adapting himself to the environment over working directly in the external environment to resolve problems, he is a Be-er.

Becoming • [Type] dyn.pr. Being<–>Becoming • transforming one’s nature • Becoming means achieving an identity with something. This is different from “being” which merely requires posing as something. To become, one must do more than just pretend to be by mimicking all the traits of what one wants to become. Rather, one must also lose all those parts of oneself that are inconsistent with what one wants to become. “Giving up” a part of oneself is always the hardest part of becoming and the reason so many characters spend a lot of time “being” without ever becoming • syn. embodying, manifesting, personifying, incarnating, transforming

Being • [Type] dyn.pr. Becoming<–>Being • temporarily adopting a lifestyle • “Being” is an elusive word, subject to inconsistent common usage. For purposes of story, Being is meant to describe the condition of existing in a certain manner. This does not mean that whomever or whatever is being a particular way is truly of that nature to the core. In fact, it may be put on, as an act or to deceive. However, as long as there is nothing more or less to the functioning of person or thing, it can be said to “be” what it appears to be. Stories often focus on someone who wants to “be” something without actually “becoming” it. The important difference is that to “be” requires that all the elements of what one wants to be are present in oneself. To “become” requires that there are no elements in oneself that are not in what one wants to become • syn. pretending, appearing, acting like, seeming as, fulfilling a role

Benchmark • [Type] • the indicator of growth, progress, or degree or concern • The Benchmark is a measuring stick which is used to judge progress in whichever throughline it is operating in. In the Objective Story, it is used to see how close the Objective Characters think they are to solving their problem. It describes where they apply their efforts, and thus is where they look to see how it is coming along.

Blind Spot • [Character Appreciation] • The motivations of the Subjective Characters which they are unable to see about themselves • Both the Main Character and the Obstacle Character (who stands in the Main Character’s path) are driven by their particular motivations. In a story, each has a prime motivation that describes the one issue in each that they cannot see in themselves. It is because they cannot see it in themselves that it works below the level of their consciousness to motivate them. Because they cannot see it, it is called a Blind Spot. In a change character, the Blind Spot is the actual source of the problem common to both the Objective and Subjective stories. In a steadfast character, the Blind Spot represents what drives him to become the agent of the common solution to both the Objective and Subjective stories. In either case, although other characters may see it quite clearly in the Main and Obstacle Characters, neither Main nor Obstacle can see the Blind Spot in themselves.

Both • [Overview Appreciation] • both women and men will tend to empathize with the main character in this story • Although there is much common ground in a story that is appreciated equally by women and men, some dramatic messages speak to one group more profoundly than the other. One particular area of difference is the relationship of female and male audience members to the Main Character. In some stories an audience member will feel Empathy with the Main Character, as if he/she were standing in the Main Character’s shoes. In other stories, an audience member will feel Sympathy, a less intense emotional attachment, for the Main Character as if the Main Character is a close acquaintance. The dynamics that control this for women and men are quite different. “Both” indicates that, as a result of this storyform’s dynamics, both male and female audience members will tend to empathize with the Main Character. Neither will sympathize.