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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Dramatica Theory (Page 0)

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Author Topic: Dramatica Theory
extrinsic
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Here at Hatrack, every so often, someone posts a new-fangled, sparkly narrative theory and technology product for evaluation and discussion. Probably we see a handful or two each year and are proficient at "limited and superficial analysis" of them. They vary, though not by much, and they usually come at a cost to explore. A cost that must support and promote itself prior to a purchase decision, thus, yeah, "limited and superficial analysis." The sample Dramatica content doesn't persuade me past the pay wall and, instead, causes me to balk and run away like it's a wild hardball pitch.

I for one am frankly weary of all the sparkly greatest new ways and gadgets to write that are derivative repeats of ancient knowledge repackaged for digital application and for the profit of their creators and from unacknowledged original sources. Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the term "willing suspension of disbelief." How about some genuinely new, transformative knowledge for a change? Here at Hatrack, that has really happened, believe it or not.

[ September 25, 2015, 09:32 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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jimhull
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The entire Dramatica theory book is available free online as are countless essays, articles, analysis, podcasts and videocasts--all free. One could conceivably "get" Dramatica and use it to improve their writing without spending a dime. You, along with several others here, discounted the theory without taking more than a superficial glance at it. The argument that this information hides behind a pay wall is again, inaccurate.

I made several points in my article that prove that Dramatica is not a derivative repeat of ancient knowledge. I acknowledged its use of common terminology and explained the reason why some terms needed to be redefined. If you can show me where the concept of a complete story being an analogy to a single human mind trying to solve a problem comes from some ancient knowledge, I would love to have a link to it. In addition, the idea that the four Throughlines of a story represent varying contexts of that very same problem is unique to Dramatica and thus "transformative". If you have concrete information that refutes that I would also appreciate hearing it.

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extrinsic
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I did more than superficially glance at the free content. My in-depth examination purposes were twofold; to evaluate for supporting references that substantiate the content's value and to test the content for consumption accessibility. Failure for me on both counts.

The Poetics of Aristotle, albeit ancient and dusty old bones, and centrally themed around causality, speaks directly to the essences of a complete story structure model, including the "Throughline" aspect in terms of event, setting, characters and personas, "problem solving," discourse modes and audience appeals, complication and conflict, structure, content, organization, grammar, rhetoric, style, and moral human condition features as well. Consumption accessibility of the text is low by today's convenient, immediate, effortless expectations, though is an original source, and all the more transformative for being the first of its kind.

The Poetics text is widely available in several translations on the Internet. The Project Gutenberg text is faithful to the more respected S. H. Butcher translation. The archive.org hosted S. H. Butcher 1922 translation text in PDF is illuminating.

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Grumpy old guy
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In my own humble opinion, when I see claims of 'paradigm shifts', 're-imagining', 're-interpretation', redefining', and all of the other euphemisms used in marketing, I know what the truth is: People following in the footsteps of giants appropriate original thought, tweak and twist it, and then pass it off as their own.

Base plagiarism in a shiny new wrapper.

That thousands may peruse, purchase, and use Dramatica is no affirmation of its usefulness: the gullible and desperate are easily parted from their cash.

A close reading of Poetics should answer most writers questions about how to write a story if they are willing to take the time to understand the nuance and subtlety embodied within Aristotle's words. For me, the next best source of inspiration would be Gustav Freytag. He took Poetics, expanded on it and brought it up to date for a modern audience's understanding. Well, modern for 19th Century audiences at least.

Phil.

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jimhull
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The logic here astounds me: its OK for Freytag to update Aristotle, but it’s not OK for Huntley and Phillips to do the same. When they try to advance narrative, it’s base “plagiarism”.

It’s interesting too how the personal attacks continue: I’m somehow “gullible and desperate” because I took the time to actually investigate Dramatica beyond a cursory glance. I have been in pitch meetings where studio executives and fellow writers sit awestruck at what has been presented to them: they literally have nothing to add or critique because the story I gave them was complete. This completeness was a direct result of my incorporation of Dramatica’s concept of the four Throughlines: Overall Story, Main Character, Influence Character and Relationship Story.

As mentioned before these Throughlines offer the audience different contexts for the same central story problem. The Overall Story is “They” as in “They have a problem and this is how they solve it.” The Main Character is “I” as in “I have a problem and this is how I go about solving it.” The Influence Character is “You” as in “You have a problem and that is how you solve it.” And finally the Relationship Story is “We” as in “We have a problem between us and this is how we solve it.” Four contexts that cover all the ways a mind can view a problem, I, You, We and They.

These are concrete concepts. They don’t require one to assess “nuance and subtlety.” They don’t rest on subjective interpretations of ancient texts. Aristotle and Freytag don’t even come close to addressing this compelling aspect of narrative. Their understandings are deficient and open to interpretation.

Yes, it is true that Dramatica is a paradigm shift — if anything, this post is a prime example of the resistance such a change creates.

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extrinsic
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Freytag didn't plagiarize Aristotle, updated maybe. Idea plagiarism is representing someone else's ideas as one's own. Freytag respectfully attributes to Aristotle what is Aristotle's and transformatively builds upon Aristotle's themes. Freytag added new dimension to Aristotle's causality theory and enumeration of extant knowledge. He added tension's axis perpendicular to causality, a pivotal insight on par with Aristotle's and unrivaled for millennia.

What baffles me about Dramatica and its supporters is the wholesale denial of previous contributions to dramatic and narrative theory and at the same time promotion of the very same topics, mostly, except for moral aptitude that is sorely missing in Dramatica theory, relabeled into a cumbersome lexicon, from a two-thousand-plus year history of dramatic and narrative theory development that is the unacknowledged foundation of Dramatica. What's new is valuable; what's old is trash, huh? There's a mountain of shoulders upon which the present day stands.

And argumentation tu quo que (you do too) fallacy to support a claim or dismiss others' opinions is tiresome. Tu quo que example: You called me a bad name; therefore, your credibility is tarnished and your opinion worthless and mine is exalted, never mind I called you a bad name first. Rapbrobius raspberries all around.

So if there's a problem to be solved here, al la Dramatica, how might that work? Name calling is incitement, not solution. The Hatrack way is to respect others' opinions and address the writing, not the writer. If dissenting contributions contend, logically, rationally, and respectfully discuss options and ramifications and allow no single way under the cosmos is the only true methodology. Insistence upon one true methodology -- that way lays cultish personality hegemony and is the bane of creative expression. That latter is the gist of this thread's discussion prior to the objection rebuttal intrusion and is a credo of Hatrack -- one size, one ideology, does not fit all.

Resistance here, by me anyway, to Dramatica started from unsupported and unsupportable claims that the system is truly better than anything that came before or extant or to come in the foreseeable near term. All time comes to a stuttering halt at this moment's nexus? Add a barge bulldozing in as like a runaway bull in a china shop, and stolen and misused property in the balance, no acknowledgement of error, just justification that respect doesn't matter in the Internet community because no one bothers with such trifles as copyright integrity anymore, simply everyone couldn't care less about respecting copyright no more, so why should I care if it won't harm me because everyone else does it too? Another tu quo que fallacy. Ethos is surely unsettled -- appeals of credibility disturbed at least, if not broken, appeals of possible kindred harmony spoiled beyond repair. If that's the ways of Dramatica's culture, my way or no way at all, no thank you.

[ September 26, 2015, 04:33 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Having read the Dramatica entry on througlines I am reminded of Lajos Egri's discussion of Premise in his book The Art of Dramatic Writing. In this, a first time reader may get the mistaken impression that Egri is talking about a single, unifying premise for the whole story and leave it at that. This is so far from the truth that it beggars belief. In his book, Egri suggests that while the story as a whole requires a single premise to prove, so does each and every important character within the story have thier own premise which requires proving as well. A process sometimes referred to as character growth or the character arc.

This would be the ancient and outdated version of the "I, You, We and They Throughlines" enunciated for the very first time by Dramatica. Oh, sorry, my mistake. I mean rehashed and re-named by Dramatica. So much for original thought.

Phil.

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Meredith
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I don't care about Dramatica Theory one way or the other. And even less now than ever. (More about that later.) I'm willing to accept that some people may find it helpful. Good for them. Others don't. Equally good for them. As creative people, we all have to do what works for us individually. And nothing works for all of us. Well, nothing but "Butt in Chair", anyway.

What I do notice about this "discussion" is two-fold.

First, you took a discussion here and responded to it on your own blog, without asking permission. That's not good internet etiquette, not matter what you think. I also notice that in doing so, you placed your opinions in a forum where no one else could comment on them. That's not good etiquette anywhere. You were called on it and responded defensively. What I read here is that you're really not interested in a discussion at all.

Second, your behavior throughout reminds me of a plumbing van that once cut me off in traffic (on the driving principle that "my vehicle is bigger than yours so get out of my way.") What that plumber forgot is that his whole van is basically one huge advertisement for his plumbing company. And that his attitude on the road can be taken as an indication of his likely attitude in his professional capacity. Can you guess which plumber I'm never going to call?

Really, if your purpose here was to get anyone at all interested in Dramatica Theory, you've gone about it in precisely the wrong way. Your best course now would be to issue a simple apology and either remove the offending post or rewrite it to remove all unauthorized quotations.

Basically, when you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, the best advice is to quit digging.

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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
I don't care about Dramatica Theory one way or the other. And even less now than ever. (More about that later.) I'm willing to accept that some people may find it helpful. Good for them. Others don't. Equally good for them. As creative people, we all have to do what works for us individually. And nothing works for all of us. Well, nothing but "Butt in Chair", anyway.

What I do notice about this "discussion" is two-fold.

First, you took a discussion here and responded to it on your own blog, without asking permission. That's not good internet etiquette, not matter what you think. I also notice that in doing so, you placed your opinions in a forum where no one else could comment on them. That's not good etiquette anywhere. You were called on it and responded defensively. What I read here is that you're really not interested in a discussion at all.

Second, your behavior throughout reminds me of a plumbing van that once cut me off in traffic (on the driving principle that "my vehicle is bigger than yours so get out of my way.") What that plumber forgot is that his whole van is basically one huge advertisement for his plumbing company. And that his attitude on the road can be taken as an indication of his likely attitude in his professional capacity. Can you guess which plumber I'm never going to call?

Really, if your purpose here was to get anyone at all interested in Dramatica Theory, you've gone about it in precisely the wrong way. Your best course now would be to issue a simple apology and either remove the offending post or rewrite it to remove all unauthorized quotations.

Basically, when you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, the best advice is to quit digging.

You just expressed my feelings on the situation beautifully. Thank you.
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jimhull
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"Good internet etiquette"? This is a fascinating forum. "Removing all unauthorized quotations" is such a blatant attempt at stifling contradictory opinion that I wonder if any one here has ever visited another website. Or if anyone here is comfortable with the idea of growing and learning something new. I've posted my argument here as well as on my site, yet the only one interested in actually even attempting to counter my points and provide some proof that Dramatica is a "rehash" of old ideas is Phil.

Unfortunately Phil's description of Egris multiple premises only proves my point more clearly: Egris may have been on the right track but he stopped short of genius and instead offered a half-baked notion that every important character should have something to prove. That's like starting a marathon and pooping out at about mile 5. It was a good start and a valiant effort, but he failed to carry his conclusions to their ultimate end. The people behind Dramatica finished his work for him.

This idea too that the people behind Dramstica don't acknowledge what came before is false as well. Of course they know Egri and Aristotle and all the other failed attempts at fully understanding what makes a story work. They just found them lacking and suggested an alternative approach that improves upon what those old guys started.

I'm pretty sure that's how progress is made.

Articles like mine are published all the time on thousands of websites everyday and are perfectly legal. This idea that I should apology and somehow delete what I have written is a sad commentary on free speech and an open exchange of ideas.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by jimhull:

This idea that I should apology and somehow delete what I have written is a sad commentary on free speech and an open exchange of ideas.

And how, exactly, do you expect an "exchange of ideas" to take place when you post on a site that doesn't allow comments?

Your objection makes no sense on its face and only serves to weaken your argument.

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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by jimhull:
Articles like mine are published all the time on thousands of websites everyday and are perfectly legal. This idea that I should apology and somehow delete what I have written is a sad commentary on free speech and an open exchange of ideas.

I think you are missing the reason why your actions have offended us. For me, at least, it has nothing to do with your opinions and everything to do with the way you have handled this situation.

As has been pointed out multiple times, Hatrack has very strict rules against reproducing any of the forum's contents elsewhere without first asking permission. These are dictated on the link from the main Hatrack website, and at the bottom of every single page of the forum. That is one of the reasons I joined, in fact. I feel safe posting here because I know that everyone's work is to be respected, whether or not people share the same opinions (and we often don't).

If you had posted your article here first and asked to post it to your blog, I am sure you would have received a better response. If you had simply produced the basics of your argument without specifically quoting people from this forum, you would have received a better response. If you had presented the basics of your argument and asked to quote the others' posts in a blog article your request might have been denied, but it still would have received a better response.

I don't care that your opinion differs from other members of this forum. That's fine. What I care about is that you took a casual discussion and made a spectacle of it, and that you ignored the forum's rules in the process. Your actions show a lack of respect for the forum's rules and its members. That is why I am offended, and I can assure you that I well and truly am.

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extrinsic
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Petitio principii is assumes the initial point, in layperson terms, begs the question. Circular logic, an informal fallacy, that precludes any other conclusion but the one presupposed.

How many ways jimhull begs the question, assumes false and circular logic. Assumes that because so many individuals pirate content on the Internet that it's okay for anyone and everyone to pirate any content without attribution, without permission, without cause for concern because so many insignificant individuals do pirate and get away with the theft, based on a falsely asserted right of an open exchange of ideas, which is like Ma said, if everyone is jumping off the proverbial bridge, shouldn't anyone; assumes that anything is proven because he says so, and is obviously unfamiliar with Egri's premise theory which is based upon Aristotle's analysis of Socratic syllogism, with which he is also obviously unfamiliar; assumes that no acknowledgment of original sources is an okay practice if an assumption anyone can trace, for example, "Throughlines'" origins to its source millennia ago, when in fact, the reality is, instead of respectfully doing the research and attribution, the lazy habit of reinventing new terms for proven terms suffices, so that the lack of attribution and placement within valid context ignores millennia of development, which would support the "new" content and, contrarily, show that the "new" content is anything but; assumes that a cumbersome lexicon that substitutes for tried and true terms is genius, like the field needs another lexicon for an already ample and crowded and diverse and specific field; assumes that writers need an overburdened, sparkly new lexicon and methodology that's an idea plagiarism, and which adds more confusion than clarity; assumes the system, cultish scheme, really, is comprehensive, and is shy of the comprehensive mark by mega furlongs -- to name a few assumed conclusions of dozens.

In other words, the scheme substitutes -- supersedes -- itself for history from an insular and uninformed lazy habit of a few who couldn't be bothered to learn what the narratology field contains already, and misses significant and essential parts enumerated amply in the narratology opus. At the least, Aristotle focuses on causality and relates significant parts to that pivotal structural feature. The scheme, though, is a miasma of incongruent connection and lacks a unifying topic of what it's actually about. None of the narratology texts I've studied are so lacking.

Also, misses what kind of writers' workshop site Hatrack is; that is, publicly viewable, though privately participatable, because content here needs trust and protection from unscrupulous pirates and privacy invaders, and a site which respects writers' creative rights, opinions, and persons.

"Throughlines," for example, is as ancient a structural principle as any. How about "plot?" Oh no, that's too hard to explain and is a worn out term, the cult would have its acolytes believe. Never mind the term plot has been used to label the dramatic structural arc principle of story organization, since the seventeenth century, and "plot-line" since the 1950s. "Mythos" is Aristotle's term, though, and served until reinterpreted as plot circa 1650s. Possibly, the ancient term mythos is still more relevant than the newer term plot, and certainly more relevant than "Throughlines." Not to mention "thread" is also used and bears a striking resemblance to "Throughlines," only much less erudite and won't trip off a spell check application.

Amusing little tidbit that the Dramatica analysis asserts of the film Blade Runner that Deckard is a replicant. Wrong. For the film and the Phillip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep inspiration, Deckard is a human. The narrative questions whether an unexamined life is machine-like, sleepwalker automaton through life, what the narrative is really about -- a moral human condition and an emotionally appealing and relevant question. By the way, Socrates famously said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."

Five hundred years of copyright respect progress jimhull and many others would see subverted and broken by lazy habit and false assertion of privilege. Privilege is as much responsibility and obligation as right. But then that Southern California [film culture] la-la land of Hollywood and its surrounds -- Burbank too -- couldn't care less about respect in the face of the almighty pursuit of the everloving sacred dollar and clamoring for fame, no matter at whose expense.

[film culture] Edited for specificity's sake, to not indict the otherwise noble, probably numerous habitants of the region who don't engage in piracy and irresponsible disrespect.

[ September 27, 2015, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:


But then that Southern California la-la land of Hollywood and its surrounds -- Burbank too -- couldn't care less about respect in the face of the almighty pursuit of the everloving sacred dollar and clamoring for fame, no matter at whose expense.

Hey. I live in Southern California--born and raised here--though not in or near Hollywood. And I'm on your side.

Anyway, jimhull is, in my opinion, descending to the level of a troll at this point.

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extrinsic
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In every place I'm sure are noble persons, even when the other kind are dominant and persistent.

As I've noted before about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, technology destroys culture and majority rules force majuere imposes its will upon minority views, which we are of the minority, apparently, and not allowed dissent.

Trolling, yes, from start to now, and foreseeably until matured or banished, probably not subject to responsible adjustment anyway.

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tesknota
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Personally, I would not be offended if someone quotes my posts on this forum without my permission. However, jimhull, I think you should just delete that post (or change is so what you don't use quotes from here) because the people that you quote ARE offended.

Let's all take a step back for a second and forget about our rustled jimmies.

If I posted a picture of me and my friends on a public site - facebook, for example - I don't necessarily ask for their permission first. However, if any one of them asks me to remove that picture, I would. This is just a basic form of respect. I might want to share my picture on facebook, but one of my friends might not want that picture shared.

This isn't only about how "legal" quoting hatrack without permission is. This is also about common courtesy.

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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by tesknota:
This isn't only about how "legal" quoting hatrack without permission is. This is also about common courtesy.

Truth.
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extrinsic
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Russian theater arts theorist Constantin Stanislavski coined the term "through line" circa 1910s, and developed the concepts that are the direct origin of the subject scheme's "throughline" facet. U.S. publishers debuted Stanislavski translations 1936 through 1958. The textual matter is not in the public domain. Stanislavski's ideas themselves, though, are not subject to copyright; verbatim content is. Idea plagiarism, again, is representing someone else's ideas as one's own.

Stanislavski's ideas migrated to the U.S. contemporaneous with his theory development and publications, through New York City theater schools and became known as "method acting," and from there to Hollywood film culture.

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LDWriter2
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As far as I can recall this is the first time I have seen this debate, I find it interesting, intriguing, intellectual stimulating and at points not so easy to understand. Of course it's late and I am ready for sleep. Wanted to comment though.


From the original short synopses of Dramatica theory, I can see why it would attract certain writers. But writers write is so many various ways that of course some of the other theories that abound even the new bright and shiny ones-which extrinsic referenced-attract other writers.

Personally I like something less complicated than many theories are. And when I can find my list of what makes a story that has somewhere between five and ten points I will post it. It may not exactly fit with this discussion being a different type of description but it's simple and the idea is to master each point to make as story worth reading. Or so that is what I take from it.

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Grumpy old guy
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The truth is that debating the merits, or otherwise, of Dramatica Theory is a pointless exercise. Jim Hull argues by assertion, not reason and argument.

This is simply assertion:
quote:

Originally posted by jimhull:

Egris may have been on the right track but he stopped short of genius and instead offered a half-baked notion that every important character should have something to prove. That's like starting a marathon and pooping out at about mile 5. It was a good start and a valiant effort, but he failed to carry his conclusions to their ultimate end. The people behind Dramatica finished his work for him.

In order to substantiate such assertions he needs to back them up with argumentative proofs, not more assertions. Just where did Egri fall short? Just what is outdated about Aristotle's theory of unity of action? Exactly what is new about Dramatica Theory?

Simply asserting something does not make it true.

Phil.

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jimhull
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I tried reason and argument, but everyone blew right past it. I'll repost again in reference to Dramatica's concepts of Four Throughlines in a complete story:

As mentioned before these Throughlines offer the audience different contexts for the same central story problem. The Overall Story is “They” as in “They have a problem and this is how they solve it.” The Main Character is “I” as in “I have a problem and this is how I go about solving it.” The Influence Character is “You” as in “You have a problem and that is how you solve it.” And finally the Relationship Story is “We” as in “We have a problem between us and this is how we solve it.” Four contexts that cover all the ways a mind can view a problem, I, You, We and They.

While I acknowledge that Aristotle and Egris might come close to this or are on the right track, they never got to that point. Egris had the "principal character" and "pivotal character" but he never quite made the connection between these two characters in regards to their resolve (one will change, the other will remain steadfast).

As far as proof goes, there are over 300 different analyses from Shakespeare to Harper Lee to the Iranian masterpiece "A Separation" available for free on-line: http://dramatica.com/analysis

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extrinsic
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Purely Constantin Stanislavski's hundred-year-old theory, which was partly inspired by Russian folkloristician and Formalist cum Structuralist Vladimir Propp. And not a dotted iota or crossed theta of attribution or originality or transformative development.

I looked at one Dramatica analysis and found it a grossly flawed interpretation, not even a subjective flaw, a factual flaw. One is enough. Who needs to read more than one flawed analysis to question the lots' misapprehended perspective.

And eight days later and still pirated content posted and not an apology and a take down or a realization of error. Only unreasoned assertions, squabble, defensiveness, and dismissiveness in self-justified support of irresponsible behavior.

First, act responsibly. Maybe then rational discussion could begin.

[ October 03, 2015, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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JAG
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Extrinsic, your assertion that Dramatica is wholly derivative of Stanislavski ("Purely Constantin Stanislavski's hundred-year-old theory") is absurd. Can you substantiate such a claim?

Dramatica Theory is an independent construct, wherein the creators represent stories as models of the human mind. More specifically, they are models of the activity of the human mind as it struggles to resolve an inequity, anomaly or breach of some kind. They describe a scenario where one of our prehistoric ancestors encounters a bear on the trail. This is an unstable confrontation. Something has to give. Our ancestor has two basic options: either she can change and the world can stay fixed, or the world can change and she can stay fixed. The core categories are self and world, stasis and change (as also examined by Strickland, 1989).

Another way to explore this drama of confrontation is to consider the difference between primary and secondary control. If our ancestor exerts primary control, the she forces the world to change, i.e. she can drive off the bear. If she exerts secondary control, she can change the situation by changing herself, and run away. Whichever way she sets her mind, she has to manage her internal reactions and her external actions. She may also try to influence the internal reactions and external actions of the bear (e.g. by playing dead). If she manages all of these horizons of activity in a successful manner, and she returns to her band’s campsite intact, her bandmates will want to know what choices she made and why, as well as what the challenges and outcomes were in making these choices. They will want to learn about and enhance the controllability of events (Girotto & Rizzo, 1991). Stories impart knowledge about the structured concerns of challenging events, and thus impart survival value, much as other forms of social learning do (Steadman & Palmer, 1997; Sugiyama, 2001a; 2001b).

This is a base and rough exposition of how the Dramatica theory of story structure represents story Themes. In addition to Theme, the theory of story structure also describes models of Character, Plot and Genre. Dramatica also encompasses other theories besides the theory of structure, such as theories of storytelling, story-weaving (the art of exposition) and story reception. The overall model is very rich, and in some ways it defies summary, given how involving and how unique it is as a framework for understanding and writing stories. Dramatica suggests that a richer understanding of event structure is possible – one that might help us understand much more about the human need and capacity for stories.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by JAG:
Extrinsic, your assertion that Dramatica is wholly derivative of Stanislavski ("Purely Constantin Stanislavski's hundred-year-old theory") is absurd. Can you substantiate such a claim?

Dramatica disciples' resistance to facts is what's absurd. Raspberries.

Stanislavski coined the term "through line" and is as well a method actor technique of story structure predicated on it, on problem solving, stakes and motivations, emotional texture, and story, character, emotion, and plot movement, and known as the Stanislavski system.

Because no source attribution is a lazy habit, and Dramatic theory must have come from Hollywood film culture osmosis and synthesis, by way of New York theater schools, by way of Russia from Stanislavski, and beyond, as noted, Propp, and Tolstoy and others, an easy-peasey access source for a summary of Stanislavski's original work is the Wikipedia articles about him and his system.

Look it up yourself.

By the way, proper behavior here at Hatrack starts with respect and responsibly following the forums' rules. Introductions second, after reading the "Please Read Here First" forum rules first. Then a registered member may participate in other forums. Otherwise, misconduct ensues and jeopardizes the workshop's integrity.

If the rules are respected, perhaps Dramatica disciples' discussions might be more favorably considered, though claims of originality are unsupported and unsupportable. Rarely is any knowledge entirely new on its own -- as rare as a newly evolved life form. Knowledge stands at the summit of a mountain of shoulders back through time.

The best Dramatica theory does is repackage extant and old knowledge, and not even so that the package shapes a new understanding. That's two of three original research and report criteria: genuinely new knowledge developed, newly packaged extant knowledge such that the package reveals new insights about the extant knowledge, and extant knowledge built upon -- synthesis of the three the usual and respectable course.

First, act responsibly.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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JAG, did you join the Hatrack River Writers Workshop merely to weigh in on this particular discussion?
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Grumpy old guy
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quote:
Originally posted by JAG:

They describe a scenario where one of our prehistoric ancestors encounters a bear on the trail. This is an unstable confrontation. Something has to give. Our ancestor has two basic options: either she can change and the world can stay fixed, or the world can change and she can stay fixed.

What arrant nonsense. Humans, either today or 80,000 years ago would react to the sudden appearance of a bear in their path involuntarily through the stimulus orchestrated by their autonomic nervous system--the fight or flight response.

This is an involuntary response controlled by the sympathetic nervous system situated in the spinal cord-- nowhere near the cognitive centers of the brain.

If a basic premise of Dramatica can be so wrong, what about the rest of it?

Phil.

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JAG
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
JAG, did you join the Hatrack River Writers Workshop merely to weigh in on this particular discussion?

Kathleen Dalton Woodbury, no I did not.
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JAG
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
quote:
Originally posted by JAG:

They describe a scenario where one of our prehistoric ancestors encounters a bear on the trail. This is an unstable confrontation. Something has to give. Our ancestor has two basic options: either she can change and the world can stay fixed, or the world can change and she can stay fixed.

What arrant nonsense. Humans, either today or 80,000 years ago would react to the sudden appearance of a bear in their path involuntarily through the stimulus orchestrated by their autonomic nervous system--the fight or flight response.

This is an involuntary response controlled by the sympathetic nervous system situated in the spinal cord-- nowhere near the cognitive centers of the brain.

If a basic premise of Dramatica can be so wrong, what about the rest of it?

Phil.

Phil,

Ridiculous.

First of all, based on your statements, you have a very limited understanding of "fight or flight" in relation to human behaviour. "Fight or flight" does not render humans automatons, capable of only running or fighting. At best, that's a childlike interpretation. "Fight or flight" manages the release of hormones from the medulla of the adrenal gland, triggered by sympathetic nerves. These hormones can trigger increases in heart rate and breathing, constricting blood vessels and tightening muscles. And while an abundance of the hormones can facilitate some spontaneous or intuitive behaviors of preferred combat or escape, they don't shut down one's cognitive abilities. The human mind does not stop thinking or trying to solve problems.

Having myself encountered a grizzly bear in the wild, "fight or flight" caused a hyper alertness and awareness and with regard to cognition, it sharpened my thinking process. Hundreds of scenarios played through my head simultaneously. At no point did I become a mindless drone, incapable of thought. I was always problem solving, doing so at a heightened level.

Side note: when hiking off the beaten path in Yellowstone National Park, always, always carry bear spray.

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JAG
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
[QB] [QUOTE]Originally posted by JAG:
Extrinsic, your assertion that Dramatica is wholly derivative of Stanislavski ("Purely Constantin Stanislavski's hundred-year-old theory") is absurd. Can you substantiate such a claim?

Dramatica disciples' resistance to facts is what's absurd. Raspberries.

Stanislavski coined the term "through line" and is as well a method actor technique of story structure predicated on it, on problem solving, stakes and motivations, emotional texture, and story, character, emotion, and plot movement, and known as the Stanislavski system.
-----

Ex, it seems you've hitched your wagon of detraction to this one (uncredited) term and have wholly discounted everything else in Dramatica. Your prerogative, I suppose. Stanislavski, though, merely took the concept of a story line, applied it to character, and coined a new term for reference. So, that when building a character, the actor has an appreciation of the relationship between each of their objectives.

I can't provide the acknowledgement you're looking for on behalf of Dramatica's creators to Stanislavski, deserved or not. And, truly, I'm not interested in any of that. It won't make me a better writer. However, I believe an appreciation and understanding of the Dramatica theory will.

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extrinsic
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Kleos is appeals of pedigree, and ethos, appeals of ethical integrity and credibility, both in part through source attribution to acknowledged extant knowledge.

I cannot in good conscience further discuss Dramatica or the topic with its disciples until formal introductions, as informal as they may be, post in the introductions forum and a cease-fire of inflammatory refutations based on unsupported assertions. Support the assertions; do not claim others' opinions are "absurd," please. That violates Hatrack's, writing workshops' generally, principal conduct rule: address the writing, not the writer.

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Reziac
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By this logic, you should not speak to me either, as I've never formally introduced myself. But if one is to address the writing, not the writer, then it matters not who the writer is. /irony

My main thought in reading this discussion is that this sort of reduction-to-a-formula is precisely why I find "literary fiction" boring as hell.

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extrinsic
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Yes, some Hatrack members, even ones of long standing, say December 2010, did not introduce themselves on the introduction forum -- formally or informally. As a writing matter addressed, subversion of workshop decorum is expectable when respectful.

Writers do not lightly abide presupposed notions of organizational structure, per se hegemony -- informal "rules" of social interaction actually enumerated in Roberts Rules of Order. Even not knowing Roberts' principles of casual parliamentary procedures, many people socially abide regardless, to variable practical degrees. That's responsible social participation learned from family, acquaintances, and hierarchal institutions -- work, mall grazing, government, public safety reps, etc.

Kleos is akin to ethos, appeals of pedigree and credibility, respectively, two very relevant and significant appeals, especially when asserting claims of argumentation. Writers generally respect successful writers' opinions, and at the same time often envy their success. Successful writers' kleos resolves from their both social and professional presence, plus, of course, their advices for success, meanwhile, also their humanity and folly, like survivorship bias (I succeeded; so anyone can).

Formulas for writing success abound, some vary to such a degree that they are mutually exclusive of others. Yet such cognitive dissonance is reconciled by appreciation a formula, or formulas, is only a bare skeleton of support. A whole and fully realized narrative comprises much more than bare bones; not to mention numerous structural organization principles could be used for one narrative, say, endo- and exoskeltons and a nonlinear causality timeline.

Literary fiction's structural arrangement is anything but conventional. Unconventionality is the convention of substance. One of the more relevant aspects for literary fiction is experimental forms and variances from customs -- throws out customary structure, denies plot's tyranny. Unconventional structure requires more effort to appreciate, which a significantly numerous reader niche enjoys and an also numerous readership denies. Tel est la vie de escritur: Such is the life of writing.

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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Literary fiction's structural arrangement is anything but conventional. Unconventionality is the convention of substance.

So its formula is, "Throw out all the formulas." Oddly, the result is a marked similarity in tone, at least in what I've read of it.

I'm reminded of that parody slogan from the hippie era: "Let's all be different, same as me."

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extrinsic
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Tone in writing parlance is attitude toward a subject, topic, or theme. Opponents and proponents weigh in on most every subject, topic, and theme of the cosmos and no two closely agree. One possible feature of plot is an attitude movement regardless whether literary fiction or otherwise -- a persuaded change of attitude, or resistance to change, successful or otherwise.

Similar language is natural and necessary within any literature category and discourse community. A screening editor consensus complaint is sameness of language across the literature culture gamut. Writers strive for grammar proficiency and universal access of a type that fosters sameness of language. The language "voice" is a universal English television normal and about as lackluster weak as stale water, again, regardless of category. A useful voice for formal writing of a mediocre attitude. However, lively prose uses regional idioms and dialects, vivid descriptions, and sharp attitudes.

A critics' common complaint for a category of literary fiction is its use of vulgar language, vulgar to mean common, pop-mass culture language. Several recently acclaimed literary fiction writers draw such criticism, though the criticism is a ploy to surreptitiously demean topics instead of language.

In any case, literary fiction's language is about as similar as any other genre category's: not similar, and at the same time is similar. No narrow writing label, such as tone, as yet suffices for the vagaries of language variance or sameness, save maybe idiom somewhat. For example, an idiom of traditional literary fiction is often a matter of syntaxis: an emphasis of complex-compound sentence syntax as opposite to simple-sentence syntax emphasis.

[ October 28, 2015, 01:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
The language "voice" is a universal English television normal and about as lackluster weak as stale water, again, regardless of category.

My ear disagrees. Give me 30 seconds (often much less) of any television program, even with nothing definitive happening or in view (eg. distinctive props/costuming), and I'll know its genre. They all have different voices.

It occurs to me that the Hallmark Hall of Fame series (which also have their own voice) are TV's answer to "literary".

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James Maynard Gelinas
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I realize this is an old thread. And that one person has already been accused of having created an account primarily to respond here, a charge for which I admit guilt. But the subject interests me. So here I am.

For the last couple of weeks I've spent the time to read the Dramatica Theory book. And attempted to implement some of it manually on a corkboard with index cards to resolve a problem I have with one of my projects. I don't pretend to be an expert. Nor do I sell consulting. Or have any affiliation with Dramatica developers.

Some points. I don't think Jim Hull - or the project - helps their standing by promoting Dramatica as some grand revolution in storytelling. It's bit too public relations. And I don't think the company does itself a service by tying their software product so closely to their theory advocacy. It's a bit too forced synergy for my taste.

But in reading this thread, particularly comments by extrinsic, I concluded that not a single detractor has seriously presented any kind of real critique of the theory itself. There's a lot of handwaving about the term Throughline having been used long ago by Stanislavsky, and how Aristotle's Poetics remains the standard by which storytelling theory should be judged. And then a bunch of umbridge over copyright claims to anonymous comments, quoted in part on Hull's site, where he rebuts without offering a comment section for counter-rebuttals.

Blah blah blah. None of this even attempts to answer the original question. It is misdirection masquerading as commentary. So, given my limited experience with the theory, I'll actually try to provide some meaningful answers.

First, criticism:

The theory is overly complex, its terminology baroque, its rigidity of form a flaw and not a feature, and overblown claims notwithstanding it does NOT offer a complete theoretical approach to solving development of all storyform. Not even close.

One of the indicators that this MUST be so can be found at Jim Hull's web site. He sells his skills as a Dramataica expert, particularly in screenplay form. I expect he's actually good at that. But if one digs into his published film analyses, there are several 'scratch your head' moments in the division between his "Story Score" and "Entertainment Score".

For example, Guardians of the Galaxy. A decent pop SF flick following the "Five Man Band" "Ragtag Bunch of Misfits" who transform into a "Badass Team" bound together by "Family of Choice" (to use TVTropes terminology). It's not 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it's not a terrible movie either. In fact, audiences loved it. And the fact that Jim Hull rated it so poorly in Story terms should say something about Dramatica Theory. Because if the theory can't predict which stories will emotionally impact audiences, it's not a useful theory for crafting story. By definition. Right?

Yet that problem isn't limited to Dramatica. Poetics won't tell you which stories will have impact either. Nor will more modern screenplay theorists like Robert McKee, Syd Field, and Blake Snyder. The first fiction textbook I was ever assigned so lamentably long ago, Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway (a good introductory textbook), says as much too.

So what attracted me to spend the time digging through Dramatica theory? At its core is one insight that authors should consider seriously. That story characters and events symbolically represents divergent and competing psychological states within the author. Much like multiple personality disorder. That the process of reading evokes the same in the audience. And from this insight one can learn something useful about successful craftsmanship.

Not that Dramatica theorists were the first to come to this insight. I came across it in Christopher Booker's tome The Seven Basic Plots, where he cites several literary theorists from the 60s and 70s who based their works on first Freud and Jung and later Lacan, coming to the same conclusion. If anyone really cares, I'll dig for their names. But this idea is not something unique nor original to the Dramatica development team.

But it could fairly be said to be the first attempt I know of to USE this insight as a structuralist theory.

OK - so I tried it. I took a project I've been stuck on - a project I truly care about getting right yet know has serious problems - and I explored the use of Dramatica Theory as a means to seek solutions. And I think it helped. That is, those issues I had with the work before - contradictory underlying character motivations, a quirky timeline presentation I originally thought would be nifty (it wasn't), and serious pacing trouble, well... the work is clearly BETTER because of having applied this analytic technique.

The use of four throughlines was new to me. Making them explicit did help. Specifying Concerns and thematic Issues for each of the throughlines helped. Going all the way down their chair detail to character level problems I found tedious and of less help. But I did it just the same. Then I wrote it out using the reports Jim Hull showed from their software package as a template and charted a new plotline on my corkboard. And the story is better for it.

I don't think it's the best it could be. I sure as won't throw away my (heavily annotated) copy of McKee's Story just because Dramatica helped this project. But I also don't think Dramatica is garbage either.

It's just another tool. Not something to get ideological over. If it helps, great! If not, try something else.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thank you for providing insight on this, James Maynard Gelinas.
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extrinsic
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None of the prior Dramatic supporters passed muster or even engaged members' constructively because prior Dramatica proponents flouted Hatrack rules of conduct -- done before their assertions even saw daylight:

No introduction thread post posted before weighing in with inflammatory statements, likely didn't read Hatrack rules as posted in the first place and couldn't be bothered to or bothered to heed, direct personal attacks on a member or members, registration solely to promote Dramatica -- self-admitted in this latest case -- and disparage members who find the theory derivative and plagued by idea plagiarism, dismissive of others' at least equally valid if competing opinions, dictated imperialist mandates, trolled for private intellectual property to take off site without consent and for personal gains and agendas, to further disparage members, and disrespect for member opinions that are opinions and not subject to argument.

Opinions are like minds and excretory output outlets: they are impossible to argue for or argue against; they can only change if they want to; and everyone has at least one.

Rudeness is not an effectual method to persuade change or even consideration in any case, immediate alienation instead. The method ruins the message.

Recess playgrounds, jails and prisons, corporate lifeways, battlefields, any masculine contention venue, a basic tactic is to take on the biggest, most powerful, or whatever of most-est an individual and dismiss the individual soundly, in part by personal attack and by denying anything of worth for the individual.

Although I do not consider myself most-est anything -- except most-est least-est of more than I care to be -- I'm oddly flattered that a first-time possible Hatrack dabbler dilettante would consider me worth singling out as a ripe target from which to make hay and brownie points at my personal expense.

Not a very effectual management or self-promotion practice anyway, a zero-sum scenario, in that one entity gains at the proportionate expense of another entity's loss and no net real gain or real winner. Such tactics invariably arouse strong negative passions that come back to roost upon their makers. Thrive by the undercut; perish by the undercut.

So far, this all above is Dramatica proponents. Makes me wonder if the theory contains a subliminal cult coercion. Nope, not persuasively enough to make me into a Dramatica cult follower.

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James Maynard Gelinas
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extrinsic, I'm not public relations. Presumptuous much?

I don't have a dog in this fight beyond my interest in the success of a personal project. Take of that what you will. Or don't (I expect you won't).

Good luck with your work. May you have much success.

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extrinsic
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I see. What I suspected. A personal project for which Hatrack is a mine to extract resources from with less effort than doing the research and composition hard work, a hidden use of Hatrack members to that end, and a dress rehearsal of essay skills for publication purposes.

Which are reasons I won't refute the baseless assertions given above or engage in discussion of Dramatica's strengths and shortfalls beyond what I already have above: derivative and idea plagiarism.

Openness is more productive and respectful, like stated intent as part of an introduction on the Introductions forum. Also, then posting essay fragments for commentary -- like that a vituperation part of a product review essay is a detraction from the form. The rhetorical exercise vituperation has its own form, functions, and customs apart from review forms.

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James Maynard Gelinas
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"A personal project for which Hatrack is a mine to extract resources from with..."

You're not only presumptuous but also very rude. And wrong.

Do you honestly think this sanctimonious behavior benefits the forum? That this drive for ideological conformity and purity through personal abuse of newcomers builds and sustains community?

This is my real name. You attack behind the cowardice of anonymity. And claim my intentions with use of the forum is suspect.

I don't care who you are. How long you have been a member. Or even if you're Orson Scott Card himself through a pseudonym. I'm not impressed. And I'm certainly not going to change my position based on your personal insults.

You derail the topic. But you don't offer insight.

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extrinsic
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Insight: "Please Read Here First" forum, "Next, Please Introduce Yourself" forum.

Maybe then a rational discussion could begin.

First and most pertinent, Hatrack is a writing workshop. A fundamental workshop principle is address the writing, not the writer, expressed in others words in the "Please Read Here First" forum.

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James Maynard Gelinas
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"A fundamental workshop principle is address the writing, not the writer..."

Exactly.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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<Sigh!>

extrinsic, comments are allowed without introductions. Introductions are intended to help those who give feedback to understand how far along in the learning process those who offer work for feedback are.

You were not "singled out" as far as I can see. Your writing in this topic was responded to.

And an alternative response to the above negative comments in general about Dramatica was offered from personal experience with the theory.

I see nothing wrong with any of that.

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Grumpy old guy
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If I close my eyes, put my right thumb in my mouth, and blow really hard will this all go away?

[Smile]

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James Maynard Gelinas
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Thank you Kathleen.

extrinsic, bygones?

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James Maynard Gelinas
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Following up. The more I dig the more inconsistencies I find embedded within the theory. Aspects of it are recursive. Yet they on traversing a the full set of recursive paths, it becomes clear the set doesn't code for any consistent meaning.

Someone else noticed this too. On the creator's forum, someone named "goose" posted a rather devastating long-winded critique that attacks its lack of rigor in detail. Really, the best formal critique I've seen.

http://forums.screenplay.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=4465

quote:

So I recently discovered Dramatica and have been completely consumed by it for the past week. But I have some serious issues with it. Hopefully, someone can help me with them. Warning: this post is VERY long.

The next two paragraphs are my overall feelings on Dramatica and why am posting here. My actual questions (8 total) start after them, though they require some of my background thought process first. Also, at the end are my concluding thoughts about Dramatica, at least currently.

First of all, I believe Dramatica is very beneficial for writing, is exploring avenues of story never considered before, and works well. I think the creators are simply pioneers. However, just because something works most of the time does not



[ March 03, 2016, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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James Maynard Gelinas, the link plus a 13-line quote is sufficient.

It is contrary to forum rules to quote more than 13 lines of someone else's work.

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James Maynard Gelinas
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Kathleen, OK.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Clarification on my last post:

When someone has posted a comment here on the forum, and someone else wishes to respond to that comment, it's all right to quote more than 13 lines in order to indicate which parts of the original comment are being responded to, since the original post is visible in its completeness further up the screen.

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