Objective Story throughline plot

by liza
(Sant Joan les Fonts, Spain)

Question: Firstly, thank you for such a useful site.

I have filled in the plot progression chart in dramatica. I have put antagonist actions in OS, but should I put actions of all the other objective characters here too? If so, I find there is a time discrepancy between the character's actions, if they are made to correspond to the understanding/learning/doing/obtaining categories.

Should actions by MC at signpost 1 correspond temporally with actions by the antagonist and objective characters at signpost 1 OS?

Please could you explain more about the past/progress/future/present arc? I don't understand if events must follow this order - can the order be changed when you get down to writing scenes (if ever!).

I am enjoying dramatica in and of itself, but do not understand the issues, especially when you get down to Theme Development in the 3rd level storyguide. Any illuminating comments joyfully received!

Many thanks, I have found at least 2 new hobbies here (dramatica and writing a novel), not that I was short of hobbies...

Best wishes, liza

Answer: First, do keep in mind these provisos...

1. Don't be a slave to the theory or the software. Dramatica is there to help when you get stuck, but always put your story instinct/passion first. If you feel overwhelmed by the theory, focus more on the story you want to tell.

2. While the software will provide a recommended order for the signposts in each throughline, you don't have to follow it. It is more important that all the signposts are included.

Regarding the Situation domain, think of each type as something to be explored. So if the order for your storyform is Past, Progress, Future, and Present, that might mean the character starts by digging up the past or resolving the past etc., then explores the direction things are moving in, then considers the future, and finally discovers something or takes action in the present. You are free to interpret these types however you like.

What does matter is that you think of each throughline as being a dramatic arc. So the first signpost is the setup, the second is the complication phase, the third is the crisis, and the fourth is the resolution.

Another important secret:

Bear in mind that each act
contains one signpost from each throughline, and they are all happening more or less at the same time.

How do you write with this sense of simultaneity in a story where you have to present the events one at a time?

The most common way is to break each signpost into a sequence of events (with its own dramatic arc). That way you can tell (for example) a little bit of the main character's signpost, followed by a little bit of the overall signpost, followed by a little bit of the impact character's signpost, etc. The order in which you weave back and forth among throughlines is up to you.

(You can get some help with turning signposts into sequences if you look at the Plot Sequence report.)

The other way is to make each signpost a single event, and flesh out the act by putting other scenes into the Journeys.

Either way, you can arrange the events from all the throughlines into one chronological order, skipping back and forth among the throughlines in the order that makes sense provided you follow the two basic guidelines...

1. Explore the Signpost #1s of each throughline before moving on to any Signpost #2. Explore all the #2s before the #3s, etc. This creates the feeling of "acts." That is, a four-act structure in which each act explores a different body of events.

2. The chronological order of events should be consistent with the dramatic arcs. It wouldn't make sense, for instance, for the resolution to occur before the crisis.

Follow this same guideline if you turn signposts into sequences within an act.

Regarding issues...

Issues are the values, the principles and approaches characters feel are important or advantageous.

For instance, the overall issue is the principle everyone in the story world values. The Relationship or M/I issue is something the main and impact characters value (but the rest of the world may not). The main character issue is something the main character values, and the impact character issue is something the impact character values.

Each value has its counterpoint which may at times seem advantageous instead. So the events in each throughline will invite the reader to weigh up which principle is really the most advantageous -- the issue or the counterpoint.

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Sep 09, 2014
Thank you very much!
by: liza

Very helpful, i'm getting to grips and your thoughtful answer is very clear, thank you. The explanation about Issues i find especially illuminating. Thanks for your time, all the best

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