Main vs. Impact Thematic Issue

by Danielle
(Oklahoma)

Question: I am stuck at this point in Dramatica. It is asking me about the passionate struggle between my main character and his lady friend, my impact character. It wants to know what theme I want my story to explore here. Either Investigation, Appraisal, Reappraisal or Doubt. I have absolutely no idea which would be correct. My main character avoids the Impact character (who is pursuing him), for fear of loving her because that would interfere with his goals. Would appreciate any help with this.


Answer: Whenever you come across a problem like this when using the Dramatica software, it is usually best to work on a different aspect of your story for a while. Here are some options...

1. If you don't have a sense of what theme you might want to explore in this throughline, try looking at the Overall throughline. See if any of the theme options for that throughline resonate with you there. If so, choosing the theme for the Overall throughline may then let the software determine the best theme for the Main/Impact character relationship throughline. (There is a relationship between themes in different throughlines that the software reflects.)

2. If that doesn't help, you can look at the themes for the other two throughlines and see if any choices resonate.

3. You may find that making other choices, either in the Query system, the Story Engine, or other windows will also let the software determine the best theme choices for the M/I throughline.

4. Another option is to not make any choices yet. (This is especially helpful of you find the terminology confusing.) Go to the Story Points window and write descriptions of the different aspects of the story as you see them. After you've written some descriptions, see which of the choices the software offers you (like "investigation, appaisal," etc.) comes closest to what you have described. Sometimes you have to be a little creative about this.

A few other tips:

A. When working with the software, you always want to make the choices you feel most strongly about first. The software works by narrowing down the list of possible story forms with each choice you make until there is only one story form that fits all your choices. You don't want to get to the end only to find out that a choice you feel strongly about has been excluded. For instance, if you know for certain you want a happy ending, you can begin by going to the Story Engine and choosing an Outcome of Success and a Judgement of Good before you do anything else.

B. If you find a conflict between what your passion tells you the story should be and what the software suggests, go with your passion.

C. Remember also that the theory is a little more flexible than the software. For instance, the software will recommend an order for the signposts of each throughline. However, this is only a recommendation. The theory actually says that exploring all four signposts is more important than the order you explore them in. So if it makes sense to you to mix up the order, go right ahead. Similarly, getting the crucial elements right can be helpful, but not actually crucial.

Comments for Main vs. Impact Thematic Issue

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Aug 13, 2013
Thank you.
by: Danielle

Thank you. This was very helpful, but what exactly is investigation and appraisal and reappraisal and doubt? Is the software asking me to choose if they are investigating their relationship, doubting it etc? Thanks for any info.

Aug 13, 2013
Response
by: Glen

They are candidates for the issue and counterpoint of this throughline.

For instance, the issue will be something that both the main character and impact character value. For instance, if you choose Doubt, you are saying that they both agree that it's important to doubt, whether that means to doubt what someone tells them, doubt the official record, doubt their senses, etc. It's up to you how to interpret that.

Whatever you choose as the issue, the counterpoint will be its opposite on the theme chart. For instance the opposite of Doubt is Investigation. (Again, you choose what might be investigated.) The events of the M/I throughline will show which is better, perhaps to Doubt what you're told is true or to Investigate (gather evidence to find out what's true).

Of course, you could instead make Investigate the issue and Doubt the counterpoint. Or you could make Appraisal the issue and Reappraisal the counterpoint, or vice versa.

It helps to check the Dictionary window because Dramatica often has it's own definitions of these terms.

Hope that helps.

Sep 01, 2014
dramatica doldrums
by: liza

very helpful, thankyou

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