Descrepencies in Dramatica Terminology?

A Writer recently asked:

Dear Melanie,

I think, if I understand this correctly, that there is an incongruence between the Dramatica software terminology and the book – in that the software calls it the “Main vs. Impact Storyline” whereas the book calls it the “Subjective Storyline”. Am I correct in assuming that both mean the same thing?

Best wishes,


My reply:

Hi, Jens.

There are a few terms over which I and the other co-creator of Dramatica, Chris Huntley, don’t completely agree.

So, when we teach separate classes, we usually go with what we each think is best. When we teach together, we go with what is in the software because that is how most people come to Dramatica.

Example: “Main vs. Impact Storyline” is the same as the “Subjective Story”. Just different names.

Additionally I don’t use the term Impact Character at all, because this character does not necessarily have any physical impact on anything. In fact, even the old term “Obstacle Character” also seemed to me to give a wrong impression. Chris changed it from Obstacle to Impact to improve it, but in my writings on Dramatica I use the term “Influence Character” because that (to me) more clearly indicates its role as the most influential character over the Main Character in regard to his or her central, personal drive or issue.

For example, the lost diary of a long-missing poet might make that poet the Influence Character for a young Main Character who is a young aspiring poet himself. The Main Character learns from the writings how to avoid self-destruction, to continue the example, and does not commit suicide like his idol does at the end of the diary. There is no “impact” or “obstacle” in this storyline, but a lot of gentle and gradual influence.

But, you did ask the right question in the first place. What is really important is the concept, not the term, and on that Chris and I both agree.