Main vs. Impact Thematic Issue

by Danielle

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

Click here to add your own comments

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
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

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero