Dramatica Dictionary: J

Judgment • [Plot Dynamic] • The story assessment of whether or not the Main Character ultimately resolves his personal problem • The notion that the good guys win and the bad guys lose is not always true. In stories, as in life, we often see very bad people doing very well for themselves (if not for others). And even more often we see very good people striking out. If we only judged things by success and failure, it wouldn’t matter if the outcome was good or bad as long as it was accomplished. The choice of Good or Bad places the author’s moralistic judgment on the value of the Main Character’s success or failure in resolving his personal problems. It is an opportunity not only to address good guys that win and bad guys that fail, as well as good guys that fail and the bad guys that win, but to comment on the success or failure of their growth as human beings.

Justification • The process by which we establish and maintain givens • All understanding comes from determining connections between processes and results, causes and effects. All anticipation comes from accepting these connections as unchanging and absolute. In this manner we are able to respond to new situations based on our experience and to plan for the future based on our expectations. But our knowledge of our world and ourselves is incomplete. We are constantly learning and redefining our understanding and our anticipation. Sometimes we have built up such a complex hierarchy of experience and expectation that it becomes easier (more efficient) to formulate or accept what might seem an unlikely and complex explanation than to redefine the entire base of our knowledge. After all, the enormity of our experience carries a lot of weight compared to a single incident that does not conform to our conclusions. Unfortunately, once conflicting information is explained away by presupposing an unseen force it is not integrated into the base of our experience and nothing has been learned from it. The new and potentially valuable information has bounced off the mental process of Justification, having no impact and leaving no mark. This is how preconceptions, prejudices, and blind spots are created. It is also how we learn, for only by accepting some things as givens can we build complex understandings on those foundations. Justification also creates the motivation to change things rather than accept them, but in so doing also creates a blind spot that keeps us from seeing a solution in ourselves in situations where it would be better to accept. Because we cannot know if a point of view should be held onto or given up and reexamined, we have no way of being certain that we are approaching a problem correctly. But either way, we will not question our Justification, only the propriety of applying it to a particular instance. In the case of a Main Character who must remain steadfast, he needs to hold onto his Justifications long enough to succeed with them. But in the case of a Main Character who must change, he needs to give up his Justifications and re-examine his basic understanding. Stories explore the relationship of the inequity between the way things are and the way the Main Character sees them or would have them be. Then it can be evaluated by the audience as to whether or not the decision to remain steadfast or change was the proper one. So Justification is neither good nor bad. It simply describes a mind set that holds personal experience as absolute knowledge, which is sometimes just what is needed to solve the problem and other times is actually the cause of the problem.