Ideas vs. Theories

One of my pet peeves and personal frustrations is how great ideas – truly revolutionary paradigm shifts – are often lost in the bundled clothing of a larger concept, hypothesis or theory.

A case in point:  In the Dramatica theory of story which I co-created, there are probably several hundred such ground-breaking concepts, but they are all embedded in the overall theory like raisins in rice pudding.

One of these, as an example, is that the Main Character in a story does not have to be a Protagonist.  Main Character is the one the story revolves around passionately, specifically in regard to that character’s point of view on some moral issue (in most uses).  What happens to them, their growth and whether or not they eventually change their world view or point of view is the essence of the Main Character.  The Protagonist, on the other hand, is a functional character in the drama – far more plot-oriented, and does not (as part of their function) have to change or even have a point of view.  Simply, the Protagonist is the guy leading the charge to achieve the overall story goal.

So, you’ve got one person trying to drive toward the goal at all costs and another one trying to work out a personal or moral issue.  Often, these are combined into a single player – a person who does both these jobs at the same time.  That defines a typical “hero”, as in the “hero’s journey.”

While there is nothing wrong with this, the two jobs can also be split into two separate characters, as in To Kill a Mockingbird, wherein the Protagonist is Atticus (the Gregory Peck part in the movie version) but the Main Character (who also, by the way, represents the audience’s position in the story) is his young Daughter, Scout.  It is through her eyes that we explore the meaning of prejudice, and in the end it is she who grows and changes (especially in regard to Boo, to whom she had previously been prejudiced against) whereas Atticus remains the same stalwart upright beacon of moral altruism as when he began.

Now that concept alone – that a hero is really made of two parts – Protagonist and Main Character – is revolutionary.  But its just another drop in the bucket of the Dramatica Theory, which is so damned extensive and detailed and far reaching that people don’t see the trees for the forest.

And that is what truly burns me – all the gems are being overlooked because people are focusing on the ornate treasure box that holds them.

But, this is really just symptomatic of our time.  Sound bites are the new monologues and no one embraces a revolutionary concept unless it can be proven in strict scientific terms and rubber stamped by the scientific community as a whole.

Here’s another one for you:

Dramatica is all about the mind of the story itself, as it the story were a person with its own overall personality and its own overall psychology.  Characters (and plot and theme) are really just aspects or facets of that overall story mind.  And yet, each character must also possess its own complete personality and psychology in order for the audience or reader to identify with it.

Just another drop in the theory bucket, but again, revolutionary.  And SO revolutionary that it has implications far beyond story into the realm of psychology and even physics.  But nobody notices because it is just another part of the explanation of the Dramatica theory, and so it not taken to be worthy of much thought in and of itself.

Here’s why it should be:

The concept basically infers that when people get together in groups, the group will self-organize into a human psychology but one magnitude larger.  And, it even infers that several of those larger harmonic psychologies might cluster together so that they function as an even larger psychology one more magnitude up, with no upward limit.

What a concept!  Nobody ever said that before, at least not to my knowledge. I call it Fractal Pyschology, and you can learn more about it on my you-tube channel for story structure (user name, Storymind) or on my web site for story structure at

But the point is, to suggest that when people group together, the group itself becomes a viable virtual psychology that can have motivations, neuroses, memories, and aversions – well, that just spits in the face of science, doesn’t it?  Or does it?

And yet, there’s one more inference that comes from this – a question really: If this works in making larger psychologies, might we ourselves be made up of smaller ones?  In essence, does the dynamic fractal relationship hold true in both directions?

Again, I say yes (another revolutionary concept).  In fact, I believe that the functioning of the neurons of the brain, the ganglia, or a plexus – the biochemistry (neurotransmitters), the action potential, the synapse, the boutons and dendrites, all of these items and the functions all operate in a dynamic system that is exactly replicated (dynamically) in the elements and functions of high-level psychology.


Yep, that’s what I said – that if you look at the structure and dynamics of the process of the mind and how they interrelate, you will find that there is an EXACT parallel of that system and the structure and dynamics of lower-level neurobiology.  In other words, each is a dynamic fractal (a systemic harmonic) of the other.

It is my contention that any system generates organizational waves into the ether (for want of a better term).  Essentially, as a system operates, its ripples run through whatever medium surrounds it, and creates harmonic copies of itself by automatically organizing whatever it encounters in that medium by the flow of energy from the ripples.

In short, the mind works the way it does because the brain works the way it does.  And, they systems of the brain, structure and dynamics are identical to the systems of the mind in terms of structure an dynamics.

Lastly – if you take a mental process and treat it as an object, then it becomes a part of the mental structure I’m talking about – a building block like a tinker toy, but it is really a process – just like object-oriented programming.

Now, if you see how those process-objects fit together, how they interrelate and how they function as a machine, you will see that it perfectly matches the objects of the brain (be they physical objects or process objects (such as the firing of the synapse and the period of time after a firing where it cannot fire again even if stimulated, for example) and the way they interrelate and function as a machine.

In other words, you could create a flow chart of the parts and functions of the brain and you could replace every item, ever term, with one pertaining to psychology and you would see the systems would be identical, carbon copies in terms of the elements and their dynamic relationships.

Well, them’s fighting words in science – of this I am sure.  But I am equally sure I am correct, based on twenty years of study of the Dramatica theory and its implications.

But the real point is, Dramatica is just filled with those kinds of insights (as I like to think of them, though I’m sure others may have less complimentary terms for them), yet they are almost completely ignored because everyone keeps focusing on Dramatica as a mechanical imposition on the organic and magical nature of storytelling.

Pisses me off.