Friday, April 06, 2007

Screenwriting 104(2) - Dramatica's Domains

Moving onto the next quadrangle we see that along with 4 Storylines, we have 4 Domains. The Domains are the context through which the Storylines operate. The writer puts the framework of the Domains beneath the shroud of the Throughlines so that you have one Throughline for each of the Domains.

It is theorised that every "Grand Argument Story", that is every damn fine story, has all four of these Domains present. So, we have:
  • Situation
  • Activity
  • Manipulations
  • Fixed Attitude
It is also theorised that for a story to feel rounded and complete, these elements all need to be present and working together, or against one another.

What does this really mean? It means that one of your Throughlines will line up with one of the Domains, meaning that the other three will, likewise, have to fit into one of the other three Domains. Take this example from Casablanca, for... er... example. (From the comic strip about Dramatica):

So, we can see what fits where:
  • Situation - Ilsa (Impact Character) is locked in a situation (she's stuck in Casablanca with no way out)
  • Activity - Everybody (Objective Story) is trying to get visas to escape Casablanca
  • Manipulations - Ilsa and Rick (Subjective Story) are playing mind games with one another; Rick out of bitterness, and his need to control everything; Ilsa because she needs to get out of Casablanca, despite her feelings for Rick.
  • Fixed Attitude - Rick (Main Character) has a fixed attitude. He's seen the world, and lost the girl. Now he's bitter and thinks the only way to live his life is by controlling everything.
  • Situation - The Objective Story (Shark terrorising the Waters of the local populace)
  • Activity - The Main Character (Brody is the one who takes action, to pursue the shark, and stop its devious teethiness)
  • Manipulations - The Impact Character (Hooper, the guy with the money, the education and all his beliefs about sharks and the such like)
  • Fixed Attitude - The Subjective Story (Hooper and Brody's conflicts - Brody must learn from Hooper to reach understanding)
The Storyform
We now have storyforms to work with from Domains and Throughlines. Andy Conway developed the following way of looking at Storyforms... which goes into more depth than presently necessary, but it gives you the idea:

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