Dramatica Theory

Question:What exactly is dramatica theory?


Answer: Dramatica theory is a theory of story structure that was developed and published by Melanie Anne Philips and Chris Huntley, two film students/screenwriters, in 1993. The theory is also the basis of a software program by the same name.

Though Phillips and Huntley based Dramatica mainly on an examination of successful screenplays, the theory applies to all media of story telling, including novels, comic books, short stories, and plays. Since its publication, both the software and the theory have been used as a writing aid by a number of fiction writers.

Dramatica theory is complex. But it offers many unique insights and is arguably more complete in its understanding of story dynamics and structure than traditional literary theories. It also differs in looking at stories more from a writer's perspective than a reader's. In other words, it's concerned with how a writer constructs meaning rather than what existing stories mean.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to explain Dramatica "in a nutshell." But many of the articles on this website are an attempt to describe aspects of the theory in a way that is practical without becoming overwhelming.

I'll say this much: Dramatica theory sees every story as an attempt to solve a problem or rebalance an inequity. The theory shows you how to address all aspects of plot, theme, and character in order to create an consistent and emotionally compelling message for the reader.

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