Blog Post

Advice For Writers New To Dramatica

Sep 28th, 2015

Mike Wollaeger, Dramatica Story Expert and all-around nice guy, had some excellent advice for writers new to Dramatica:

The first time I used Dramatica to storyform a screenplay I was writing, I misunderstood about 90% of everything I was doing. Repetition and throwing yourself headfirst into testing out your understanding (and dealing with the subsequent fallout) is about the best way to move forward.

This is the same experience I had. I didn't understand how a story could be about anything else but Obtaining. Of course every story is about achieving something, what else could it be? Subsequently, I've discovered the difference between the energy to resolve a goal and the actual type of Goal, but absolutely, you have to go into Dramatica knowing you're not going to get it the first couple of years.

It's been almost 20 years for me and I'm just now understanding the Relationship Throughline. Your mileage may vary.

If I could do it again, I would do the impossible, which is focus on fewer things in the theory until I had them down cold. I would be sure to be able to cleave apart the MC and the Protagonist. Even if, especially if, they are played by the same person. I would aim to distinguish Do-ers from Be-ers. I would try to break stories down into their Four Throughlines. I would learn how to identify Story Goals, so I could determine Success & Failure.

This is a fantastic list and really should be the only things newbies see when they first dive into Dramatica. Learn these and then move on to the more complicated stuff.

The tricky part here is that it's hard to know if you've done it right if this is all you focus on. If you try to carry a story all the way to the bottom, then the model starts to fight back if you've got something wrong. At the high levels, there is no feedback yet.

Perfect advice. Not sure why I didn't see this before but you can be sure I will take this approach with new writers in the future.

He left the best advice for last:

Also, bear in mind that Dramatica will help your story, but it will not help you write. So keep writing, daily, while you learn Dramatica.