Selecting Your Story’s Dividends

Dividends are benefits accrued on the way to the Goal.  Goal, Requirements, Consequences, and Forewarnings are all Driver Appreciations in Plot. Dividends are the first of the Passenger Appreciations. As such, we see it used in storytelling more as a modifier than a subject unto itself. Still, since authors may choose to emphasize whatever they wish, Dividends may be lifted up to the forefront in a particular story and take on a significance far beyond their structural weight.

No matter what emphasis Dividends are given in your story, they are still modifiers of the Goal. As such, when selecting the Type of Dividends for your story, consider how well your choice will dovetail with your Goal. Sometimes Dividends are very close in nature to the Goal, almost as natural results of getting closer to the Goal. Other times Dividends may be quite different in nature than the Goal, and are simply positive items or experiences that cross the characters’ paths during the quest.

As with the Driver Appreciations, this choice is not arbitrary. The dynamics that determine it, however, are so many and varied that only a software system can calculate it. Still, when one has answered the essential questions, it is likely one’s writing instincts have become so fine-tuned for a story as to sense which kinds of Dividends will seem appropriate to the Goal under those particular dynamic conditions.

From the Dramatica Theory Book