Michael Brown

The Paradise Wars and Clark Ransom Thrillers

Point of View in Dramatica

Writer's Tool: DramaticaThis is reposted from Dramatica’s online forum :

Dramatica’s Online Forum

How does Dramatica define point-of-view (POV)?

I’m trying to integrate my understanding of traditional point of view concepts (e.g. first person, third person etc) and dramatica’s four throughlines. If I’m writing in two first person’s povs (Main Character and Impact Character), how do I get the Overall Story throughline and the Relationship (MC/IC) throughline across? Asked differently, can I write all four throughlines from the eyes of one character, say the Main Character?

The throughline perspectives are completely different than “voice” which tells the story (first person, third person, etc.). For example, let’s look at the fairy tale, “Little Red Riding Hood.” I’ll have to add a bit of material because the tradition version of the story is almost all Overall Story material, material developed from the objective, external, “big picture” perspective.

Overall Story: A young girl sets out to bring a basket of goodies to her grandmother. On her way through the forest, she meets with a wolf who convinces her to take another path with the promise that it is a shortcut. In fact, it is a longer path that delays the girl’s arrival at her grandmother’s house. In the extra time it took the girl to get there, the wolf was able to get to the house first, eat her grandmother, and then dress as the grandmother in order to fool the girl to get close enough to eat. The girl notices that “grandmother” doesn’t look the same but is too late and it eaten. A passing hunter notices and chops the wolf in two, rescuing the girl and her grandmother, who were eaten whole.

Main Character: Little Red Riding Hood is an overly confident twelve-year old girl who gets into trouble because she is impulsive and overly trusting. Her credibility, and often safety, are undermined by her flights of romanticism and fantasy.

Influence Character: The Wolf is a vicious, yet charming, man-eater that has seen the game in the forest disappearing due to human hunting. He is hungry and growing desperate.

Relationship throughline: The cat and mouse nature of the relationship between The Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood has The Wolf pretending to be another Traveler in the forest in order to fool and mislead LRRH. He manipulates her to take a longer path, promising that it is shorter, etc. and later impersonates her grandmother in order to lure LRRH close enough to eat.

As you can see, the four throughlines emphasize different aspects of the story. The Overall Story shows the “big picture.” The Main Character shows the personal perspective. The Influence Character shows an alternative, and challenging perspective to that of the Main Character. And the relationship shows the passionate counterpoint to the dispassionate view of the Overall Story. The “point of view” used in telling a story, or what I like to call the writer’s voice, let’s the writer describe the four throughlines as if they were from different perspectives, but are not limited to the views available to those perspectives. Here are some examples:

  • FROM THE THIRD PERSON VOICE: Once upon a time there was a little girl named Little Red Riding Hood who was on her way through the forest when she met a wily wolf at a crossroads. Little Red Riding Hood thought the Wolf was charming. The wolf thought Red smelled delicious and was going to eat her when he found out she was on her way to her grandmother’s house. He thought two meals was better than one, so he tricked Little Red Riding Hood into taking the long way to grandma’s house.
  • FROM THE FIRST PERSON VOICE: I was skipping along the path through the forest on my way to grandmother’s house when a HUGE, handsome but strange-looking man stepped in front of me. He had a big smile with very white teeth. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was really a nasty wolf dressed to look like a rich man, but I digress. I found the man very charming and helpful and briefly fantasized having a romantic dinner and running my fingers through his hair. After I told him where I was going, he pointed me toward a short cut that should save me lots of time. If I’d been paying a little more attention, I should have noticed the way he drooled as he looked at me, like he wanted to ravish me on the spot, or worse.
  • FROM THE SECOND PERSON VOICE: You were skipping along the path completely unaware of the danger you were in. You didn’t see the Wolf until you’d practically run into him. If you’d known he was a wolf, not a Wolf, you would have run screaming. But this Wolf charmed you instantly. You told him you were going to grandmother’s house, but you could hardly hide your attraction to him. His hunger for you was equally obvious, but the promise of having you AND your grandmother gave him an idea. He convinced you to take another path, “A short cut to grandmother’s house,” he said. And so you took it.

There are elements from all four throughline in each of the three examples. That is the difference between the Dramatica perspectives and the traditional point of view. For novels, use whichever point of view (voice) you want while telling your story. If you ever write a screenplay, scripts are always told in Third Person, present tense.

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