Changing Dramatica’s Suggested Act Order

A Dramatica user recently asked:

Hello:  would appreciate your help on this.  Am using the Dramatica software.  Level III.    Impact Character is MIND and that’s OK.  However, the software keeps telling me that Signpost #1 is Memories and Signpost #2 is Preconscious/Impulsive Responses.  I want them reversed, i.e. Signpost #1 to be Impulsive Responses and Signpost #2 to be Memories.  I have gone back into the impact character descriptors  prior to the PLOT PROGRESSIONS  viz. to the Impact Character  Development and written in Impulsive responses.   Nothing changes .    I  realize I can just “call” them something other than what the software says, i.e. call Signpost #2,  #1  but would prefer to have the software place them in the order I want.   Can you suggest how I can do that?  Thanks for your help.


My reply:

Hi, Bill

Here’s the problem (and a solution):

First, the reason Dramatica chooses that order is that is the sequence that will support your overall story argument or message.

Here’s why – the order of things changes their meaning. For example, a slap followed by a scream has a different meaning than a screen followed by a slap. Similarly, the order in which perspectives are explored in a story is what ultimately makes the argument, over time.

So, Dramatica is telling you the order necessary to fully make and support your message. In fact, if you pick all the sequence orders, the Story Engine in Dramatica will be able to determine the message and fill in many of the structural items based on sequence alone!

Now, here’s a solution for what really isn’t a problem, but more of a frustration:

Every culture looks at time and space in a story to make the argument. But, every culture favors one of the other as being the primary argument and other as being the supporting argument.

A culture will accept inaccuracies in the secondary argument, but not in the primary argument. In Japanese culture, the Timeline argument is most important. But in Western culture, the Spatial argument is most important.

So, while it will slightly weaken your argument to change the order of the signposts (and therefore the nature of the journeys) in Western culture, your audiences will see that a a minor violation that doesn’t negate the primary argument.

The one caveat is to make absolutely sure you keep all the spatial (structual) items exactly on target because if you interject inaccuracies in there as well, with the slight weakness of your timeline already at work, the entire structure might fall.

Hope this helps.


Bill’s reponse:

Hi:  Thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply in detail.  Much appreciated.   In the meantime, I rethought everything, thinking “just what if Dramatica knows something I don’t . . . however impossible that might be!”  And I figured that the Dramatica order was indeed better.  So that’s what I’m using.  And again many thanks.  Cordially,  Bill