Disaster stories

by Howard

Question: I'm stuck trying to wrangle a disaster story. Survivors of a plane crash have to trek out on their own. What does Dramatica tell us about the disaster genre? Thanks.

Answer: Dramatica doesn't attempt to be overly specific about genres. About the only thing that's fairly clear regarding disaster stories is that the driver is action. In other words, actions (the unfolding disastrous events) force people to make decisions in response. The disaster brings out the best/worst in different characters as they struggle to cope. For instance, if you're using a four-act structure, you would make the turning point that begins each act an action which forces the story in a different direction, until the final resolution (also an action). Also, there's a lot of entertainment value from the awe inspiring situation of the disaster.

Beyond that it's hard to generallize. Disaster is essentially a terrible situation - and situation is one of dramatica's four domains.

In most disaster stories, situation is the domain for the overall story, with the characters concerned about solving their present survival before the situation drives them mad.

The relationship throughline (between the hero and love interest) concerns Fixed Attitude. In that case, while everyone is struggling to cope with the rapidly changing environment, the conflict in the key relationship will involve their butting heads because they have different but entrenched views.

The main character may be pressured to play a role or become a different person in order to survive or save other' lives.

In other disaster stories (for instance, Titanic) the overall story is Fixed Attitude - with all the characters pursuing their deep desires - while the relationship between Jack and Rose concerns how they cope with the situations they keep finding themselves together in.

Beyond that, you can tell a wide range of stories using the disaster as a setting.

Comments for Disaster stories

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by: Howard

You help clarify things.
The problem is a bad situation, a non-obvious conflict would be fixed attitudes.
The story would have more meaning than mere survival.

I have trouble entering this into Dramatica. v4 build 8.

On the story engine screen, there's no domain. But under OS Themes / Throughline, I see Situation.
But there's no Impact Character Throughline or any place for Fixed Attitude.

What am I missing?

Thanks for a greatly helpful site.

by: Glen

The story engine screen doesn't allow you to choose every element, only the key elements required to zero in on one story form.

Try using the query system. You'll find you can make impact character throughline choices there. Note that if you make the overall throughline one of situation, the relationship or Main/Impact throughline will automatically be fixed attitude. Check the theme browser and you'll see this is true.

Alternatively, you can also make these choices in the theme browser if you select the option to make storyform changes there.

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