Differences Between Subtxt and Dramatica

Speaking of Dramatica, many of you already familiar with the theory might find yourself confused on some of the concepts found in Subtxt. While reminiscent of this groundbreaking theory, there are areas where it looks like some of the terminology has been altered.

And you would be right. 😊

Based on our many years of practically applying Dramatica theory to real-world projects (and thanks to the help of many enlightened authors), we developed and extended Dramatica theory to what you find here in Subtxt.

If you have no idea what Dramatica is, don't worry--understanding it is certainly NOT a requirement for using the application (quite the contrary). For those new to all of this, feel free to skip ahead to the next section.

Plot Progressions

Perhaps the biggest difference you will find between the two are the order of the Plot Progressions found in various Storyforms. This difference in the sequencing of elements is not a bug, it's feature.

Subtxt reverts back to the original concepts of the theory in order to generate its unique set of Storyforms. While different then those found in any other application, the Storyforms generated in Subtxt resonate as "more accurate" to the majority of writers familiar with both.

Obstacle Character for Influence Character

If you're familiar with Dramatica theory, you may wonder why we chose to run with Obstacle Character over Influence Character.

In practice, thinking of this perspective in terms of the obstacle it presents to the Main Character continuing their justification results in a stronger, more deliberate and meaningful story. For more on this, please read the article What is an Obstacle Character?

Story Continuum for Story Limit

The subject of an in-depth and detailed article on Narrative First (Time and Space in Dramatica: Rewriting the Story Limit), the concept of a Story Continuum is a more accurate rendition of what many familiar with Dramatica know as the Story Limit.

Instead of thinking what "limits" or boxes your story in, writers will find the concept easier to manage when they simply consider the relationship between Space and Time in their story. For the most part, you will want to hardwire this to Spacetime anyways as it will result in a story that attracts a broader audience.

For those who wish to experiment with Timespace, Subtxt offers an option for you to reverse the relationship when building a story.

Female Mental-Sex Terminology

Throughout Subtxt you will find terminology specifically engineered for a better appreciation of Female Mental Sex. Once a foundational concept in the evolution and development of Dramatica theory, Female Mental Sex has now been watered down with notions of "holistic" mindsets and storytelling that it risks being absorbed yet again into the purvey of the Male Mental Sex crowd. In an effort to once and for all set a line in the sand between Female Mental Sex and conventional ideas of "Linear" or "Holistic" thought, Subtxt reverts back to the original understanding.

Most of these changes reflect the reality that Female Mental Sex minds do not think in terms of fixing things through Problems and Solutions (at a base instinctual level), but rather see life as a process of managing and balancing inequities. Goals and Consequences matter little to Female Mental Sex, as Problem and Solution give way to Conditions and Intentions.

The Female Mental Sex obstacle on the structure of a story reflects the filter of the Female Mental Sex mind--what it looks like even before conscious thought seeps in and makes something that is just something...into a "problem."

The following is a short-list of Female Mental Sex Terminology vs. their Male Mental Sex counterparts:

  • Mental Sex for Problem-Solving Style
  • Condition for Problem
  • Revision for Solution
  • Resistance for Focus
  • Flow for Direction
  • Intention for Goal
  • Overwhelm for Consequence
  • Excitement for Dividends
  • Pressure for Costs
  • Ennui for Forewarnings
  • Habituation for Requirements
  • Internalization for Prerequisites
  • Socialization for Preconditions

In addition, you'll find that some of these terms sneak their way into the traditional Male Mental Sex Storyform--specifically in the area of the Relationship Story Throughline. This is done to help the writers of these stories start to see that Throughline as less of an "argument" and more an actual relationship between things where conditions and flow and resistance play a larger part in the greater understanding of the narrative.

Transits, Progressions, and Events

In an effort to help writers understand a clearer definition of structure vs. storytelling, Subtxt alters the "plot progression" terminology of the original Dramatica applications.

  • Transits for Signposts
  • Progressions for Sequences
  • Events (not present in a Dramatica application)

Many a writer found themselves confused over practically applying what was found in the Plot Sequence Report of Dramatica in terms of what constituted a Scene and what made up a Sequence.

Subtxt attends to this confusion by referring to all temporal plot progression elements as temporal plot progression elements. Instead of Signposts, we use Transits to classify the most important "transitions" of a narrative. Progressions are nested within these Transits as a means to mark the key movements through a Transit. And Events, not even present in any shape or form in the original Dramatica application, mark those moments of interest throughout a specific Progression.

Specific Elements

In the original Dramatica theory, many Elements were presented as "negative" aspects of a Dynamic Pair. "Uncontrolled" was paired with Control, "Non-acceptance" with "Acceptance," and "Unproven" with Proven.

Having run into the same problem over and over again of describing the concept that one is not just the "opposite" or negative of the other, we went ahead and changed these in Subtxt. Theoretically, a lack of Proven is not the same thing as Unproven--yet practically speaking, many would equivocate the two.

The replacements for these help clarify their stance on the other side of a Dynamic Pair.

  • Presumption for Unproven
  • Deviation for Non-accurate
  • Rejection for Non-acceptance
  • Free for Uncontrolled
  • Altruism for Morality

New Concepts

In addition to rewriting some of the outdated and underdeveloped areas of the theory, Subtxt coins new terminology to account for certain aspects of a Storyform.

  • Main Character Baseline and Evolution: mark the beginning and end of the Main Character's Throughline "Arc"
  • Obstacle Character Baseline and Evolution: mark the same for the Obstacle Character's "Arc"
  • Premise: a distillation of the Dramatica storyform into a single sentence
  • Dramatic Argument: the core of every complete narrative, and the crossroads of character and plot
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