A step by
step approach to story development, from concept to completed story for
your novel or screenplay. More than 200 interactive Story Cards guide
you through the entire process.
powerful story structuring software available, Dramatica is driven by a
patented "Story Engine" that cross-references your dramatic
choices to ensure a perfect structure.
advanced screenwriting software available, Movie Magic is deemed a
"preferred file format" by the Writer's Guild. An industry
standard, MMS is used by professionals and studios around the world.
index cards - Name them, add notes, titles, colors, click and drag to
re-arrange, adjust font, save, export and print. An essential tool for
on Select Products
Are you a
student, teacher, or academic staffer? Get the very best price on select
products with these manufacturer sponsored academic discounts!
The Art of Storytelling
About the Audience
What do you have in mind?
Few authors write stories without at least considering what it will be like to read the
story or see it on stage or screen. As soon as this becomes a concern, we have crossed the
line into Reception theory. Suddenly, we have more to consider than what our story's
message is; we now must try to anticipate how that message will be received.
One of the first questions then becomes, how do we want it to be received. And from
this, we ask, what am I hoping to achieve with my audience. We may wish to educate our
audience, or we may simply want to bias them. Perhaps we are out to persuade our audience
to adopt a point of view, or simply to pander to an existing point of view. We might
provoke our audience, forcing them to consider some topic or incite them to take action in
regard to a topic. We could openly manipulate them with their informed consent, or
surreptitiously propagandize them, changing their outlook without their knowledge.
No matter what our author's intent, it is shaped not only by who we are, but also by who
the audience is that we are trying to reach.
Who are you talking to?
You are reading this book because you want to use the Dramatica theory and/or software to
help you record something you are thinking about or feeling. For whatever reasons, you
have decided you want to record something of yourself in a communicable form.
A primary question then becomes: to whom do you intend to communicate? You might simply
wish to communicate to yourself. You may be documenting transient feelings that you wish
to recall vividly in the future. Or you may want to capture the temporal ramblings of your
chain of thought and then stand back to see what pattern it makes. Self-searching is often
a primary objective of an author's endeavor.
Writing for Someone Else
What if you are writing not for yourself but to reach someone else? It might be that you
hope to reach a single individual which can be done in a letter to a friend, parent, or
child. You might be composing an anecdote or speech for a small or large group, or you
could be creating an industrial film, designing a text book, or fashioning a timeless work
for all humanity.
In each case, the scope of your audience becomes more varied as its size increases. The
opportunity to tailor your efforts to target your audience becomes less practical, and the
symbols used to communicate your thoughts and feelings become more universal and
simultaneously less specific.
The audience can thus range from writing for yourself to writing for the world. In
addition, an author's labors are often geared toward a multiplicity of audiences,
including both himself and others as well. Knowing one's intended audience is essential to
determining form and format. It allows one to select a medium and embrace the kind of
communication that is most appropriate -- perhaps even a story.
Dramatica and Communication Theory
Exploring all avenues of communication is far beyond the scope of this initial
implementation of the Dramatica Theory. To be sure, Dramatica (as a model of the mind) has
much to offer in many diverse areas. However, for the practical purposes of this software
product, we cannot cover that much ground. Rather, we will briefly touch on major
perspectives in the author/audience relationship that can also serve as templates for
translation of the Grand Argument Story perspective into valuable tools for other forms of
communication. In this manner, the usefulness of this specific software implementation can
extend beyond its immediate purpose. (What does this say about OUR intended audience?)
Writing for Oneself
In the Great Practical World of the Almighty Dollar Sign, it might seem trite or
tangential to discuss writing for oneself (unless one expects to pay oneself handsomely
for the effort). In truth, the rewards of writing for oneself DO pay handsomely, and not
just in personal satisfaction. By getting in touch with one's own feelings, by discovering
and mapping out one's biases, an author can grow to appreciate his own impact on the work
as being in addition to the structure of the work itself. An author can also become more
objective about ways to approach his audience. (And yes, one can gain a lot of personal
insight and satisfaction as well.)
The Author as Main Character
As an experiment, cast yourself in a story as the Main Character. Cast someone with whom
you have a conflict as the Obstacle Character. Next, answer all the Dramatica questions
and then go to the Story Points window. Fill in as many of the story points as seem
appropriate to you. Print out the results and put them aside.
Now, go back and create the same story again -- this time with your "opponent"
as the Main Character and YOU as the Obstacle Character. Once again, fill in the story
points and print them out. Compare them to the first results. You will likely find areas
in which the story points are the same and other areas in which they are different.
These points of similarity and divergence will give you a whole new perspective on the
conflicts between you and your adversary. Often, this is the purpose of an author when
writing for himself. Thoughts and feelings can be looked at more objectively on paper than
hidden inside your head. Just seeing them all jumbled up together rather than as a
sequence goes a long way to uncovering meaning that was invisible by just trotting down
the path. After all, how can we ever hope to understand the other person's point of view
while trying to see it from our perspective?
A wise woman once said, "Don't tell me what you'd do if you were me. If you were me,
you'd do the same thing because I AM ME and that's what I'm doing! Tell me what you'd
do if you were in my situation."
Another purpose in writing for oneself is simply to document what it was like to be in a
particular state of mind. In a sense, we jot down the settings of our minds so that we can
tune ourselves back into that state as needed at a later date. The images we use may have
meaning for no one but ourselves, and therefore speak to us uniquely of all people. The
ability to capture a mood is extremely useful when later trying to communicate that mood
to others. To bring emotional realism to another requires being in the mood oneself. What
better intuitive tool than emotional snapshots one can count on to regenerate just the
feelings one wants to convey. To make an argument, accept the argument. To create a
feeling, experience the feeling.
Who is "Me"?
A simple note is stuck to the refrigerator door: "Call me when you get home."
Who is "me?" It depends on who you are asking. Ask the author of the note and he
would say it was "myself." Ask the recipient of the note and they would say,
"It's him." So the word "me" has different meanings depending upon who
is looking at it. To the author, it means the same when they wrote it as when they read it
as an audience. To the intended audience, however, it means something quite different.
In life, we assume one point of view at a time. In stories, however, we can juxtapose two
points of view, much as we blend the images from two eyes. We can thus look AT a Main
Character's actions and responses even as we look through his eyes. This creates an
interference pattern that provides much more depth and meaning than either view has
My "Me" is Not Your "Me"
When writing for others, if we assume they share our point of view, it is likely
that we will miss making half of our own point. Far better are our chances of successful
communication if we not only see things from our side but theirs as well. Overlaying the
two views can define areas of potential misunderstanding before damage is done. Still,
"Call me when you get home" is usually a relatively low-risk communication and
we suggest you just write the note without too much soul-searching.
Writing for Groups
What Binds a Group?
Groups are not clumps. They are conglomerations of individuals, bound together (to various
degrees) by an aspect of shared interests or traits. Sometimes the common theme can be an
ideology, occupation, physical condition, or situation. Sometimes the only thread of
similarity is that they all gathered together to be an audience.
Do readers of novels "group" as an audience? Certainly not in the physical
sense, yet fans of a particular writer or genre or subject matter are bound by their
common interest. Regular viewers of a television series start out as individuals and
become a group through bonding of experience. They know the classic "bits" and
the characters' idiosyncrasies. In fact, the series' audience becomes a group representing
a fictional culture that ultimately becomes one more sub-cultural template in actual
society. Works can indeed create groups as well as attract them.
What Binds Us All Together
What of the "captive" audience that has no sense of what they are about to
experience, yet are gathered in a classroom or reception room or boardroom or theater?
What of the audience attending the first telecast of a new series, knowing little of what
Underneath all the common threads binding an audience together is a group of individuals.
Each one is responsive to the same essential mental processes as the next. It is this
intrinsic sameness -- not of ideas but of the way in which ideas are formed -- that makes
us all part of the group we call humans. At this most basic level, we are all part of the
Throughout this book we have stressed the difference between storyforming and storytelling.
A clear communication requires succinct storyforming. Communicating clearly requires
What makes storytelling appropriate? The fact that the symbols used to encode the
storyform are both understood in denotation and connotation by the intended audience. If
the audience misreads the symbols, the message will be weakened, lost, or polluted.
Identifying with one's audience is not enough: one must also identify one's
audience. It is all well and good to feel part of the group. But it can be a real danger
to assume that identification with a group leads to clear communication in appropriate
symbols or clear reception by all audience members.
to the Next Section of the Book-->
How to Order Dramatica:
A New Theory of Story
the Table of Contents
Back to the Dramatica Home Page
Copyright 1996, Screenplay Systems, Inc.
The Dramatica theory was developed by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
Chief Architect of the Dramatica software is Stephen
Dramatica is a registered trademark of Screenplay Systems Incorporated
the Dramatica Theory Home Page
Try Dramatica & StoryWeaver Risk
*Try either or both for 90 days. Not working for you?
Return for a full refund of your purchase price!
About Dramatica and
Hi, I'm Melanie Anne Phillips,
creator of StoryWeaver,
co-creator of Dramatica
and owner of Storymind.com. If you have a moment, I'd like to tell you
about these two story development tools - what each is designed to do, how
each works alone on a different part of story development and how they can be
used together to cover the entire process from concept to completion of your
novel or screenplay.
What They Do
Dramatica is a tool to help you
build a perfect story structure. StoryWeaver is a tool to help you build
your story's world. Dramatica focuses on the underlying logic of your
story, making sure there are no holes or inconsistencies. StoryWeaver
focuses on the creative process, boosting your inspiration and guiding it to add
depth, detail and passion to your story.
How They Do It
Dramatica has the world's only
patented interactive Story Engine™ which cross-references your answers to
questions about your dramatic intent, then finds any weaknesses in your
structure and even suggests the best ways to strengthen them.
StoryWeaver uses a revolutionary new
creative format as you follow more than 200 Story Cards™ step by step through
the story development process. You'll design the people who'll inhabit
your story's world, what happens to them, and what it all means.
How They Work
By itself Dramatic appeals to
structural writers who like to work out all the details of their stories
logically before they write a word. By itself, StoryWeaver appeals to
intuitive writers who like to follow their Muse and develop their stories as
But, the finished work of a
structural writer can often lack passion, which is where StoryWeaver can help.
And the finished work of an intuitive writer can often lack direction, which is
where Dramatica can help.
So, while each kind of writer will
find one program or the other the most initially appealing, both kinds of
writers can benefit from both programs.
Try Both Programs
We have a 90
Day Return Policy here at Storymind. Try either or both of these
products and if you aren't completely satisfied we'll cheerfully refund your
Complete Catalog of Products
the Writer's Survival Kit Bonus Package
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step by step approach to story development, from concept to completed
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Structure - $149.95
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Writer - $99.95
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- Index Cards (Mac) - $19.95
index cards - add notes, titles, colors, click and drag to re-arrange.
An essential tool for every writer.
Magic Screenwriter - $149.95
advanced screenwriting software available, Movie Magic is deemed a
"preferred file format" by the Writer's Guild. An
industry standard, MMS is used by professionals and studios around the
Draft - $199.95
Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft is an industry standard, used by many
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The Lines (Macintosh) - $29.95
cost automatic screenplay formatter for Macintosh includes high-end
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Hour Writing Course - $19.95
you need to know about story structure - twelve hours of video on a
single DVD - presented by Dramatica Theory co-creator, Melanie Anne
Software Companion - $19.95
four hours of video demonstrations of every key feature in Dramatica,
narrated by the co-creator of Dramatica.
Tips Book - $19.95
170 pages of
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Seminar 8 DVD Set - $99.95
14 hours of
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Seminar Online - $49.95
The same 14
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download for a permanent copy.
Theory 2 Hour Audio Program - $19.95
concept in the Dramatica Theory of Story is fully explained in this
Characters of the Opposite Sex - $29.95
audio CD set that explains everything you need to know to create
characters of both sexes that ring absolutely true (and maybe even gain
insight into the communication problems in the real world!)
Storyteller Improves Your Writing - $29.95
better writing with this series of interactive exercises.
to Create Great Characters DVD - $19.95
A 90 minute
video program recorded during Dramatica co-creator Melanie Anne
Phillips' live in-person seminar on story structure and storytelling.
vs. Passion - Audio CD $19.95
Mind approach to writing uses your own passions to create your story's
structure. It focuses your efforts, clarifies the direction of
your story, and triggers your imagination.
with the Story Mind - Audio CD - $19.95
Learn how to
psychoanalyze your story's "mind" to uncover and treat
problems with characters, plot, theme, and genre.
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