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Tips from Dramatica Users...
"Avoid getting lost in Storyweaving"
From: Armando Saldaña Mora (tictic@DATA.NET.MX)
Subject: The answer to all your troubles-2.
I promised to write about weaving and the "I always fold at Storyweaving"
syndrome, but didn't deliver. I'm gonna do that right now.
Sad, but true. The Dramatica software can't write the story for you. At one moment,
reading the reports, you feel as if you had all the story at your fingertips. You start
encoding -maybe falling victim of the "encoding the same idea over and over"
syndrome- and when you arrive at Storyweaving, you fold. That sure happened to me a lot.
Because Dramatica was designed to serve to a broad band of formats, genres and media.
The Storyweaving section of the Storyguide provides techniques and tips that adapt to all
formats/genres. But evidently, you cannot finish a decent story without all the parameters
of the format/genre you're working in.
I remember the first time I used Dramatica to write a sitcom episode. I've been working
in the sitcom format for the past year. Then I got a period of rest in which I studied
Dramatica, practice writing some stories without format (somewhere in my mind I told
myself these were going to be movie screenplays, a format I don't know well) and fold at
Storyweaving each and every time. About three months ago, a producer calleld me and told
me to write him a pilot for a sitcom series, I decided to give Dramatica a try. Three days
later, with one of the best stories I have written ever, I began writing the teleplay
itself, I was amazed: "This theory and software was designated specifically for
sitcoms and and sitcoms only. I don't know why they say it's for all genres, the acts, the
scenes, the dialog, it's all here!" Later I realized, I knew what I was doing when
writing a sitcom. I knew where all the entrances and exits must be, I knew how long a
dialog must be and I knew where all the commercials go. Dramatica only gave me a sound,
balanced structure (well, that's all they've promised to give me). And I had to write the
Bottomline: Don't constrict yourself to your 28 Storyguide scenes. Storyweaving is
where you put all your previous ideas along with the Storyguide scenes. Now is when you
can pull out that scene of "the action hero pulling out his machine gun and entering
the ladies room by mistake" you always liked; here is the place to bring out all the
Plot Points, all the High Point Commercial breaks, all the Comic Relief scenes, the High
Speed chases, the Super Costly Special Effects scenes that everyone will remember... but
are now within a sound storyform that will give coherence to your story. Are you reading
this, Mr. Schwartzennegger?
How you do it? How do you turn an encoded storyform into a multibillion production
script, platinum bestseller or comedy hit that gets all the Nielsens? Trite but true:
Practice. When Storyweaving use everything you know, use all your craft, your experience,
your talent, your inspiration. Put your Dramatica apreciations on 3x5 cards and develop a
scene for each one, "Step out" your Storyweaving scenes, get a book or two on
the media you want to work on; try and practice in a format and a genre that you really
love, one that you have seen all the movies, read all the books, watched all the specials.
Don't be afraid to steal an idea or two from your favorite movie and putting into your
story just to see how they work (after all, it's only practice, isn't it?) Don't throw
away the stories that didn't work, you'll be amazed how many times you'll say "an
idea from that piece of garbage I wrote two years ago was the idea for the first script I
sold". In the end, you'll have to find out what works for you. But that has been the
same with all the writers throughout history.
Here's some of the stuff that works for me: I encode each Plot Progression scene as an
event, a single story moment that is significant; also I try to throw in the encoding
facts from the throughline: if it's action or decision, if the character changes or
remains steadfast, and finally I try to look at each Plot Progression scene as a Plot
Point (in the traditional sense: a point where the direction of the plot turns).
This sounds complicated, but I order each of the things above into a sentence, like:
"An Action of Obtaining gives direction and something to do to our Objective
Characters" or "A Decision from the Past to the Present changes the life of the
Main Character" This makes encoding a single event extra easy, in the first example
it could be the theft of an historic object, on the second example it could be that the
violent ex-husband decides to visit the Main Character.
Now I end up with events like: "OC Journey 1: Sarah finds in the old family house
her dead sister's diary" and "OC Signpost 2: Sarah finds Mary (her supposed dead
sister) working as a waitress in a cocktail lounge in San Francisco". Obviously,
something must have happened between the old family house and the cocktail lounge, but
deciding what happened is my work as a writer (and it's the fun part!)
So, I write my 28 Storyguide Plot Progression scenes in 3x5 cards and I set them up in
a big corkboard so I can see all my story at once. Next I write in additional 3x5 cards
each thematic scene, character moment and Appreciation that's supposed to go with that
particular Plot Progression scene. I don't write them in the same card (as the Storyguide
suggests) because I haven't decided still if I want to develop that particular item as a
piece of dialog, as an event or as a complete scene, so I just tack this cards next to
their corresponding scene.
Now, to go from the old family house-diary event to the cocktail lounge I review all
the apreciations, character moments, and thematic scenes that I have on the additional
cards. That makes some kind of a private brainstorm and maybe then I know: The
skeptic/sidekick active conflict will take me to the cocktail lounge on San Francisco, or
maybe it will be the obtaining stipulation, or maybe them two, one after the other, or all
of them or even none of the above. Then I'll have to develop all that Appreciation and
stuff as dialog, events and additional scenes. Bottomline: all this is dictated by the
parameters of the format/genre I'm working in.
So, that's some stuff that has worked for me. Maybe it could also work for you.
As always, please forgive my language-gap errors.
*Try either or both for 90 days. Not working for you?
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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