How to write seasons like "Breaking bad" or "Desperate Housewives", or a soap?

by Mads Nilsson


Can you help me define the story goal, the impact characters and other things, for a "soap" story like Breaking Bad?

When Rhona loses her husband and discovers he hasn't left her a penny, the retired expat from Scotland, living in Portugal, Rhona starts prostituting her own gay son, convinced by a neighbour from Norway, Mads. She first denies. But she have to save the house.

Everything grows, Rhona goes from very active and caring - to a greedy business woman, losing control over her boundaries. But when her son wants to get out of it, she has to choose between her son and the business. She says she has cancer - and her son continues - he also needs money as a poor student.

But, in the lazy neighbourhood where everyone cares for themselves, full of eccentric characters, they start to suspect something is going on. A policeman is also dragged into the case. But he is an hidden gay, and Rhona offers him time with her son to make him stop investigating.

But, as said - she cannot run this without getting in touch with a lot of threats, from neighbours - to the mafia.

When her son wants to go out of the business, she has to choose between her child (she has only him) or saving the house. At this stage, Rhona is so greedy she choose the latter - pretending she got cancer.

But things get even closer - the mafia - she and her son discovers the real world, the neigbours, the policeman, the others - everything is stretching the rope around her neck. She has big troubles trying to bribe them or discuss with them - but the mafia is the worst. It can even go as long as murder to hide her business.

At the end, all Rhona's enemies enter her house - craving money, threatening her, different things. At the same time - a big event happens (like an earthquake) in the strange neighbourhood. All the enemies fall into the gaps, and needs to be saved. Rhona is together with her son. All of the enemies offer big rewards if she chooses to save them (she doesn't have the time to save all). This is the point where she really have to make the decision by continue business or go back to normal life. She chooses the latter.

Month later, Mads (who had the idea in the beginning) visits Rhona. She is living with an inmate, that pays. She has no more money, but she is "clean" and tries to make up her relation to her son.

In the last moment she asks either Mads or Greg: Can we continue- I don't need you, other persons?

It has to be said that the neigbourhood and the surrounding are of "big importance". They all have their storylines, a psychic wreck in Portugal, paranoid, thinking everyone
is her enemy, hating Rhona for her perfectness, the newly bonrn yoga man, previously a famous radio voice in England, with millions (also gay in the closet), the others - who do care too much about themselves than seeing what is going on in the house over the street.

So: As I am new to Dramatica - and this is a seasonal series - how do I define the different goals, like Story Goal, Impact Character goal, Main Character - and all the others I find cumbersome. I am Norwegian an find it hard to understand all the terminology in Dramatica, and am afraid I will create a Storyform that is not unique or creative, or fulfilling my needs. Thanks a lot.


I think you defined the goal already. The goal is to save Rhona's house. In Dramatica terms, that could be a goal of the Present (keeping things the same after her husband's death). However, you have do decide if that fits. Another option could be to decide it is a goal of Doing (saving the house).

The way to know which story goal is right is to look at the main character's concern. If you've settled on the story goal, you will have two choices for the main character's goal. For instance, if the story goal is the Present, the main character's goal will either be Gathering Information (perhaps an investigation) or Conceiving an Idea (perhaps she has to keep trying different ideas in her effort to find the right idea that will let her save the house. Whichever choice you make for the main character, the other will be the impact character's goal.

You will have to decide who the impact character is (perhaps Mads or the son). You want someone who represents a different approach than the main character, someone who can make the main character question herself.

With a story goal of the Present, the relationship goal will be Contemplation (perhaps the main and impact characters are concerned with how they assess problems together).

Usually you have to play with different choices in the software until you find the storyform that best fits the story you want to tell.

Once you have the right story goal, you'll know that most characters in the story world will share that goal. For instance, perhaps everyone is trying to save their homes from the natural disaster? Or everyone could be trying to save their present situation from various threats that are arising (assuming the Present is the story goal).

If you are truly writing a "soap opera," you may have several stories being told at the same time, each with a different main character, but sharing a setting and possibly sharing the overall goal. A long running soap opera always has at least three stories happening at once and each episode tells a little bit of them all.

Best of luck.

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Thx, but is there a typo in the mc paragraph?
by: Anonymous

Thanks a ton for the help. A little confused by this paragraph : "You will have to decide who the main character is (perhaps Mads or the son). You want someone who represents a different approach than the main character, someone who can make the main character question herself."

by: Glen

It should read "You will have to decide who the impact character is."

Also, it occurs to me that another possible goal would be for Rhona to try to hold on to the past (if the house represents that). Again, you have to play around with different combos until you find one that fits the story you want to tell.

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