Developing Stories, Part 3


Continued from Part 2

Well, I had my eight plot elements from the Dramatica story theory in hand. Now I have to use those to develop a plot summary for my story. The summary is easy – just take the eight plot elements and create a one-paragraph summary of the events in your book. It’s a high-level sort of thing, like an elevator- or thirty-second pitch. Simple, once you have the plot elements.

Then, with the summary formed, I was ready to tackle creating the throughlines.

At first, I wasn’t sure this meant. But reading more of How-To-Write-A-Book-Now.com’s information gave me the insight to figure out, each of the four throughlines is broken into four major markers, or signposts. Those signposts are similar to the milestones of the four-part story map I’d been using.

Well…sort of.

My mistake came in trying to make the signposts of Dramatica analogous to the milestones. They serve similar functions, but aren’t the same thing. Not exactly. Turns out, however, the concept is just as easy. The first signpost for each throughline is an event which will take place in the first act. The second signpost for all four throughlines will take place in the second act. See how this works? Before long, you’ve got four events in each act.

Wow! I thought, this is fantastic! It’s even more granular than The Hero’s Journey!

Oh, but I wasn’t done yet. As I continued reading more about story development with Dramatica theory, I found those signposts should be translated into sequences, which are then broken into… wait, what?

What’s a sequence?

Sequences are sequences of events which make up chunks of a story. In my case, the sequences make up the Acts of the book. I have four sequences per each distinct section (or Act, if you allow for four of them instead of three, which is the model I use most), for a total of sixteen sequences throughout the book.

Those sequences are broken into four events each. An event is a block of story which comprises the scenes. So, in essence, I’ll have 64 scenes in my book (more or less, depending; I could have more than one event per scene, but they must be in the correct order regardless), which is pretty well standard (48 to 60 is what most writers will say for a novel or screenplay).

Dramatica, therefore, has provided me with a story map containing sixty-four (64) events along the way. Now, that’s a thorough map! How can I get lost that way?

But I wasn’t done yet. Not yet.

-JDT-

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