Getting Better At Dramatica: Analysis Practice

To use Dramatica effectively for writing, it's important to be able to analyze your own story ideas confidently. Even if you can't quite get down to one storyform (that can be difficult when your idea is still kind of fluid; it may be bouncing around between slightly different structures), being good at analysis allows you to confidently pin down some of the structure. Even knowing the basic structure, like who your Main and Influence Characters are or what the Overall Story Domain is, can help in developing your ideas.

I’m still on the fence about how necessary it is to go beyond the Concern level before writing your first draft. But I will say this – if you lack confidence as a writer, it can be super inspiring and motivating to constantly be coming up with ideas and then realizing afterwards how well they fit the storyform. It’s like there’s an objective voice telling you “this idea is great!”

The Method

To increase your understanding of Dramatica and get better at analysis, you should practice. Here is one method that can work really well:

  1. Watch movies that are analyzed on the Dramatica site, but where you don't know the storyform. While watching, try NOT to do any analysis, just enjoy the movie. (My worst mistakes always come from ideas I had before the movie was done.)
  2. Analyze -- best to sleep on it at least one night before starting this. Just do your best, don't stress or overthink.
  3. When you're finished your analysis, here's the awesome trick. Open a browser, and shrink it down really small so there's hardly any room for text. Go to the film's analysis page, and do a Find (Ctrl+F on PC) for a term that you want to check, like "Main Character Approach". Since the browser is so small you'll only see that one thing you're checking, or maybe that and a couple things around it.
    Even better than the tiny browser, you can employ a friend. Get them to check your "Overall Story Throughline" or whatever, and make sure they only tell you whether you're right or wrong.
  4. If you're right, you can check something else. If you're wrong, go back to your analysis and think hard about where you went wrong, and how that might change your whole understanding of the story (think holistically).
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until you're confident in your analysis, or you just feel you're never going to get it and need to check the whole thing. If the latter, make sure you go through the analysis and try to understand where you went wrong, and how the analysis applies to the story.
Alternately, if there is a Youtube video analysis for the story, you should definitely watch that. You might be able to use your viewing in place of steps 3-4: analyze first, then watch. Anytime you feel your analysis is off, pause the video and adjust before continuing to watch.