Blog Post

Element Sets And The Feel Of A Story

Oct 12th, 2015

Over on Discuss Dramatica, the question came up about the various Element Sets (Motivations, Methodologies, Evaluations and Purposes) and whether or not they dictate a certain kind of story:

Does the type of the element set (purpose, motivation, evaluation or method) where the MC problem belongs to--tell me something more about the feel of the story?

I remember asking the same thing. Once you start understanding some of the patterns inherent in the Dramatica model you start to make all kinds of connections. I used to think I was discovering some great insights to add to the theory's development.

Turns out I was wrong.

The truth is, once you set the Main Character Problem that Element becomes the source of Motivation. It will no longer feel like a Purpose, Evaluation or Methodology.

There is a sense that stories in certain Concerns (and therefore certain Element Sets) share a similar feel to them, but that feeling is subjective, open to interpretation, and easily overcome with ingenuity.

I have always felt that placing the Concerns in the Upper Left (Past, Memory, Conceptualizing and Understanding) gave a story a certain seriousness, or weight to it. As if the film or novel had a strong Mass. But then you find out that a movie like Young Frankenstein falls into an Objective Story Concern of Memory and all illusions of a greater understanding dissipate.

The short answer is no--structure does not determine the flavor, or feel of a story.