Creating Throughlines and Signposts

by Robin

Question: I can't see the difference between Overall Throughline and the others. I don't know how I can create different events in every throughline following your kind advice. For example, let's take Star Wars. If the climax is when Darth Vader must decide between killing his son or help him, I see things this way:

Overall Signpost #3: Darth Vader must decide between killing his son or save him.

Main Character Signpost#3: Darth Vader must decide between killing his son or save him.

Impact Character Singpost#3: Luke must decide between fighting his father or surrender.

Relationship Singpost#3: Mr. Vader and son fight in an intergenerational struggle.

So in the end, all this signposts are the same event!! And even the same scene!! So what's the point in dividing the story in different throughlines and signposts? I can't find Signposts in Main Character's Throughline different to the Signposts in the Overall Throughline. Could you please explain more accurately those differences? I have read your answer to "Understanding/Identifying Signposts (Harry Potter and Dramatica)" and I feel that your explanation has nothing to do with your article about "Writing an Outline of your Novel". Please help me, because I can't sleep thinking about those things!

Thank you in advance!

Answer(UPDATED): One of the reason I didn't start off the section on writing a novel with a discussion of the throughlines and signposts is because they can get confusing.

And one of the biggest traps is exactly the one you point out. We all (me included) are inclined to simplify things. And one of the ways we simplify our understanding of stories is that we try to take several different story points and reduce them to one point. We have to fight this natural tendency because it makes our concept of a story more shallow.

In fact, I would argue that one of the distinct advantages of Dramatica is that it forces us to consider other dimensions of a story.

I have recently revised my analysis of the signposts in The Return of the Jedi. The address is below, or you can click on the Story Analyses tab to find it.

Comments for Creating Throughlines and Signposts

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Mar 17, 2012
Darth Vader for ever...
by: Robin

Thank you so much! It's been really clarifying and now I can sleep properly... From now on, I'll try not to simplify my own signposts!

As for the Star Wars trilogy, first, I had no doubt that, obviously, the Main Character was Luke. But, on second thoughts, I started wondering if the real MC was Mr. Vader, because it was he who changed in the end (besides it was he the protagonist in the new trilogy). Now, after your explanation, maybe you have a point in that question.

Anyway, really interesting your comments on that subject and truly a great work that website! Thanks again!

Response: Glad that helps. One of the unique things Dramatica points out is that not every main character has to change to win. Sometimes, the right choice is to hold your ground, as Luke does in The Return of the Jedi. What's more, if the main character doesn't change, usually the impact character does change and vice versa. - Glen

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