Blog Post

Finding The Personality Of A Story Through Conflict

Jan 6th, 2017

Melanie Anne Phillips, co-creator of the Dramatica theory of story, on the personality of a story:

As we get to know people a little better, our initial impression of the “type” of person they are begins to slowly alter, making them a little more of an individual and a little less of a stereotype. To this end, as the first act progresses, you may want to hint at a few attributes or elements of your story’s personality that begin to drift from the norm.

The most interesting--yet most difficult to incorporate--aspect of Dramatica is this idea of structure determining the personality of a narrative. Far more enlightening than the prevailing idea of one journey to rule them all, identifying the flavor of narrative through the conflicts they explore opens up a wellspring of understanding for the conscientious Author.

Genre sits at the top of the Dramatica Table of Story Elements and it is here that you will find the different kinds of personality-types for different narratives.

For instance, The Sixth Sense shares a similar personality type with The Others not because of their subject matter and StoryWeaving reveals, but rather because of their focus on misunderstandings in the Objective Story and blind Fixed Attitudes on the part of their respective Main Characters.

Likewise, the narrative personality of The Bourne Identity differs from Aliens not because the former is a "Thriller" and the latter a "Sci-Fi Action" movie, but rather because Bourne struggles with Memories while Riley struggles with The Past.

The uniqueness of a narrative construct lies in its arrangement of conflict through the Four Throughlines. Our series of articles on Conflict addresses these personality types in detail.