Starting with Premise

The Premise as found in Subtxt is both an extension and reduction of the Dramatica theory of story's Storyform concept. Extension in that it can help you skip over twenty years of education to quickly arrive at your story’s unique structure; reduction as it boils down the seventy-five plus Storypoints found in a Dramatica storyform into one sentence.

This is a feature.

A Dramatica storyform is a hologram of Author’s intent, i.e. what you’re trying to say with your story. However, the Appreciations of that storyform only hold meaning in how they relate to one another. And the process of learning these relationships takes years and years of study.

If I showed you this, would you be able to tell me what your story means?

A Sample Story Engine Settings Report from Dramatica Story Expert

Of course not.

But if you were to read this instead:

You can look forward to having a better life when you give up supporting the system

You could easily explain to anyone the argument being made with the story. In fact, you could probably start writing a couple of scenes right now.

Yet, they both mean the same thing. They’re both indicative of the unique story structure behind The Shawshank Redemption.

One sparks study; the other—creativity.

The Premise in Subtxt is the message of the story--it is neither tied to the Protagonist nor the Main Character, but rather the relationship between the Author and Audience. When you read it, imagine you (as the Author) being able to meet with every single Audience member individually and communicating to them this important message.

You can't do that in real life.

That’s all the Storyform in Dramatica is: a carrier wave of intention from artist to receiver. The algorithms that create the Premise in Subtxt are a mixture of the primary objective and subjective views (Objective Story Throughline and Main Character Throughline) along with a set of Subtxt Settings. The latter look very similar to the Audience Appreciations in Base Dramatica (Tendency, Essence, etc.) with one important distinction--they are engineered to communicate message over the Audience’s apparent Appreciation of meaning. They change and adapt to other dynamics within the story based on my practical experience of using Dramatica to write stories.

In short, find a Premise that resonates with you and write your story around that intention. Everything else will fall into place.

When you look at the Premise know that it's a reduction of a Dramatica Storyform - it's a combination of the Objective Story Throughline and the Main Character Throughline as seen through two very specific Storypoints. Because it is a blend, the Premise is prone to all manners of inconsistencies and inaccuracies present when two different points-of-view are combined. You cannot apply the Premise to one Throughline or another, rather you can only take it as a general understanding of the story as a whole (the way most audience members and writers see story).

Awkward Premises

Some writers find the Premises in Subtxt difficult to understand or read. What many fail to appreciate is that the Premises in Subtxt are much more complex than anything developed in the past. Instead of brushing dynamics and structural aspects under the rug for the sake of clarity (e.g., "Greed leads to destruction"), Subtxt puts them from and center--and keeps them consistent across all narratives.

This method of combining both aspects of Character and Plot into one single sentence refelcts the meaning and intent of the narrative (the Storyform).

For have the premise of Rambo' First Blood' as 'Virtuous are those who make people conscious of something by counterattacking someone'. This has nothing to do with the premise of Rambo and very little to do with the English language as I understand it.

In the example from First Blood, if one were to expand on the Premise, the argument would be that, "Even though you might fail, it's worth it to react (or counterattack) with the same kind of force used against you--if for no other reason than to make others conscious of your plight (and of those before you)."

So while on the surface it might not seem appear to be the Premise of First Blood, this is in fact what the film argues in its totality. In the Storyform, you'll see a Story Outcome of Failure, a Story Judgment of Good, and you'll see the Crucial Elements of Proaction and Reaction. Rambo takes on Proaction, while the Sheriff takes on Proaction.

We're currently working on a way to make it for writers to create meaningful structures without having to learn the thematic underpinnings of the entire theory. The nice thing about the way its setup now is that not only do you get an idea of the exact Elements at play in your story, but you also learn how they work together to create an impactful narrative.

Video: The Argument of the Premise

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