Monday, April 09, 2007

Screenwriting 104(4) - Dramatica - Problem Quad

What must be understood about Dramatica, is that the process is all about drilling down through the layers of quads to get to the root causes and solutions to characters and their problems. Having passed through the issues, we reach the Problem Quads - out of a total possible 256 Problems.
So, the Problem Quad exists pretty much like this:

As with our previous assessments of Quads we place one layer over the framework of another. However, we are now working so deep that we must deal with each of our original Storylines (Throughlines - Main Character, Overall Story, etc) separately. So for each of the four, we have four Problem Quads. And each looks at Problem, Symptom, Response, Solution.

Taking Rick's Main Character Throughline from Casblanca, we have drilled down to a Problem Quad (if you follow my previous posts and the Dramatica guidebook) of Control, Feeling, Logic, Uncontrol. So, for Rick, his problem is that he has to control everything. The symptom of which is that his feelings for and toward Ilsa have led him to this end... well, Andy Conway sums it up best:

Well, Rick seems to be a hard-bitten, cynical guy who sticks his neck out for nobody. That’s a very logical attitude to take to what is happening around him. But remember that Renault recognises him as a rank sentimentalist. He’s adopting this attitude to cover his emotions. It breaks out now and then, but mostly he manages to hide it.

But his real Problem is ‘Control’ and the Solution to that is ‘Uncontrol’. What does this mean?

When we open, Rick is one of the most powerful people in Casablanca. He is in total control of everything. He runs his bar and controls the prefect, even the Nazis, everyone. But this is a false empire. It’s not what Rick should be doing. What he needs to do is give up all that Control and choose to walk away from it. And that’s exactly what happens at the end of the film. He walks away with nothing but the clothes he stands in, at the mercy of the world again.

The key to use of this system that after all your domains, situations, problems and characters are mapped out you are provided with a list of what needs to be shown by your script or story in order to help with deep characters, plot arcs, and a tale that works on all levels. Furthermore, looking at this depth allows you to generate stories that end on different notes - for example Casblanca ends on a positive for Ilsa and Laslo - they escape. Rick however, though he has left behind his control, suffers the bittersweet ending. He's stuck in Casblanca, without Ilsa, but he's prepared to move on.

Now, if that isn't an oscar winner... I don't know what is!

So, what comes next for Dramatica? Well, there is the character archetypes, and the complicating of their natures to create superbly rounded characters that function to serve the plot in as many ways as necessary, there's the 12 point plot notes you need to be aware of... and more. But that's up to you to investigate...

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