For those fellow scribes who enjoy delving into the deepest layers of storytelling, visit our friends at Dramatica. They have condensed their knowledge into a handy tome called Dramaticapedia.
Ask yourself the following questions before you start writing your story:
- Does the main character change or remain steadfast? Story gurus typically tell us that a character must change? However, if they cause change in others, they often remain steadfast themselves (traveling angels). Sometimes they change. The change could be an attitude, belief or goal.
- Does the main character start or stop a behavior? Does the main character adopt new actions, attitudes, characteristics or beliefs (start) or cease behaviors they have outgrown or limit them (stop)?
- Is the main character a be-er (internalized behaviors) or do-er (externalized behaviors)? This is often referred to as a passive or active protagonist, respectively.
- Is the main character mainly logical (linear) or intuitive (holistic)? Do they think or do they feel?
- Does the story plot progress mainly be decisions or actions?
- Is the story ending determined by a time limit (time lock) or limit in the extent of actions (option lock)?
- Is the story outcome a success or failure? Have the original goals been achieved or not? Bittersweet endings often found in dramedies or tragicomedies have a combination of both; a success has been achieved, but at a great cost.
- Is the story judgement good or bad? Has the main character resolved their personal issues or not?
- What is the overall story throughline? This is basically the backdrop against which the main story takes place; situation (an external situation), activity (an external activity), fixed attitude (an internal state of mind), and manipulation (a internal manner of thinking).
- What is the overall story concern? This is an area of activity shared by all characters.
- What is the overall story issue? This is essentially the theme or the central issue explored.
- What is the overall story problem? What is the source of the main character’s problem that motivates them to act?