By Glen C. Strathy
Dramatica is not the only story model that has become popular in recent decades. And while we feel it is the most comprehensive and covers the widest range of story types, others models have their merits, especially if you are looking for something simpler to get you started.
When you are working on a story, what you often need is a simple, clear model so you can worry less about story structure and focus instead on the characters, the specific incidents, and the actual words with which you express the story.
Bear in mind that the principles of sound story structure are the largely universal. But story is a complex thing to define, and many writers and theorists have worked hard to create models of how story works, often using different labels for the same elements. This is a vast improvement over the days when every writer essentially had to figure out for him/herself how to write a satisfying story. Nonetheless, the lack of a standard model does make for a certain amount of confusion. (In fact, writers often feel motivated to come up with their own model so that they have something unique to present in workshops, which can make things confusing for beginning writers who attend a lot of workshops.)
While you may find it helps your writing to stick with one
comprehensive model that makes sense for you, it's also helpful to be
familiar with some of the other models, so that, when you have
conversations about stories with writers who use them, you can have a
Of course, what you have to watch out
for is that some story models only describe one particular type of
story, while ignoring other possibilities. For instance, some models
only focus on happy endings. Others may be very genre-specific.
Below please find links to articles where we compare Dramatica with some of the other models of story structure you are likely to encounter.
Legendary screenwriting guru Syd Field proposed a model of story structure that seems to be a forerunner of the W-Plot. Plus he offers a wealth of practical advice for all writers.
Also known as "The Hero's Journey," this classic model is ideally suited to Young Adult stories. Here we look at its origin and components, and correct some common misconceptions.
Michael Hague, author of Screenplays that Sell, is one of today's foremost Hollywood story gurus. This article compares his theory of story structure with that of Dramatica.
One of the easiest story models to use, particularly in genre fiction, is the W-Plot, as expressed by Mary Carroll Moore, author of Your Story Starts Here. Here we compare it with Dramatica.
Understanding the Seven Basic Plots: A comparison between Dramatica and The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories by Christopher Booker. Booker argues that most stories throughout history have followed one of seven (or nine) basic plots. Knowing these could help with your storytelling.
The Seven...Actually Nine... Basic Plots Themselves. A closer look at Christopher Booker's basic stories, from the perspective of a four-act structure. Includes charts illustrating the progression of each act, which is valuable if you are writing in one of these genres.
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