Blog Post

Intimidation and the Art of Creative Writing

Jun 22nd, 2020

The Dramatica theory of story receives criticism for being over-complicated and restrictive. For those who feel writing a story to be an act of rebellion, the opportunity to speak one's mind without the shackles of ruling principles is of paramount importance. When the excitement of that initial motivation wanes and the inevitable paralysis of "writer's block" sets in, they reach out for sturdier ground. Lost and confused, the creative crusader prays for deliverance and magical intervention.

Initial development of Subtext, the practical application of Dramatica theory, focused on Act-sized narrative elements. By concentrating on the significant parts of their story, writers leveraged the theory's power without getting mired in the details. Recent discussion in the Writers Room and practical experience with the InstantScene feature suggests an alternate approach.

Reading Ryan Holliday's The Daily Stoic, one arrives at this quote from one of Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Lullaby: " The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up." As Ryan explains:

Sometimes grasping the big picture is important, and the Stoics have helped us with that before. A lot of times, though, it's counterproductive and overwhelming to be thinking of everything that lies ahead. So by focusing exclusively on the present, we're able to avoid or remove those intimidating or negative thoughts from our frame of view.

The Potential-Resistance-Current-Outcome (PRCO) pattern of the scene in front of you is the present moment. Forget the ensuing sequences and the climactic Act to come and drive your attention towards the minor Act in front of you: the scene at hand.

Writing a story is an act of rebellion, but not against outside forces. Writing is a revolt against intimidation. And the best way to overcome that fear is to focus on the details and focus on the intricacies of narrative structure.