Thinking … about Dramatica?


I think too much.

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Anyone else have that problem regarding their writing?

Recently, I’ve been overwhelming myself with trying to find the start to my novel, wondering if I have enough stakes for the mc in the first chapters and wondering what kind of novel I have actually written.

These are some of the pitfalls of being a pantser. And, this problem always occurs before I have discovered my ending. So not only have I not got my ending, I have lost my start.

Which means, surely, that I have a strong middle?

Not sure at all now, since I cannot shake the feeling something is missing. Something fundamental. Like what is motivating my fmc to make the decisions she is making. I’m not good with concrete reasons. My character’s reasons tend to be wishy-washy, like, ‘I’m not sure I like that guy, so I’m not going to marry him.’ Ha.

The thing is, when I start to write all I have are these vague feelings, and it’s not until I’m near the end that motivations begin to reveal themselves and I then have to go back and tweak.

So, yes, I’m wallowing through one of those periods of self-doubt that plague writers. The only way I can think of to get out of it is to analyse what I’ve written so that I understand it, know where it’s going and, therefore, where it starts.

In an attempt to do this, I’ve starting reading the Dramatica theory book.  Dramatica is a writing software that espouses the Theory of Story. What I have read so far (or, rather, what I have understood so far) is proving enlightening.

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The chapter I am concentrating on is the character one.

They say a lot of things, but something that resonated with me is their list of eight character types (they use the Star Wars characters to clarify, among others):

Star Wars photo

Protagonist – Luke
Antagonist – The Empire
Contagonist – Darth Vader
Guardian – Obi-Wan
Sidekicks – C3PO and R2D2
Sceptic – Han Solo
Emotion – Chewbacca
Reason – Leia

When I applied this to my novel, I discovered I had three missing. I had Leia, Chewie and Han Solo missing! What would Star Wars be without those three??? So I am wondering if I also have half a novel. At least now I have something to work on in order to round out my story, to add seasoning to it.

I don’t know if every successful novel out there follows this (whether by design or accident – Gone With The Wind follows by accident, and look how successful that is), but the next time I read a novel I’m going to keep these eight characters in mind and see if I can spot them. If these foundational characters are found in most massively selling works, then I’m in, you know what I mean?

If you are interested, then read this chapter. It’s challenging, and I don’t yet understand it all, but I’m getting there.

If this helps me, then I might just try to persuade my wonderful hubby to buy the software…

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2 thoughts on “Thinking … about Dramatica?

  1. But if you include too many characters, you can confuse readers. I still like the pantser approach best. I prefer my story to tell itself and then go back to revise/add/expand. IMHO, formulas for writing are made to be broken.

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    1. I agree, but I think there is some merit in the 8 character approach as an idea. Even Pride and Prejudice has these characters in, so I do wonder whether they are on to something. I don’t want 8 main characters (perish the thought:P) but maybe within my support ensemble these characteristics can/should be found. I don’t know, it’s something I am playing with. I find pantsing takes me so far, then I need to re-think my character motivations:D

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