Thursday, December 04, 2008 -- and Do Something Constructive

I just discovered an incredible blog called StoryFanatic.Com, where the author expounds on the differences between a STORY and a TALE. I quote:

A Story is an Argument

There is a significant difference between stories and tales. A tale is merely a statement; a linear progression from one event to the next culminating in one singular outcome. It can be thrown out immediately and disregarded as a one-time occurrence primarily because it has relatively little to stand on. A story, however, offers much more to an audience member.

Apparently his ideas come from a source called Dramatica, which I have yet to investigate. But go to the blog.... see for yourself... he says it much better than I can. Looks like an exciting find for sure!

I've added the link under Blogs (Other) in my sidebar, and also a link to my friend Jeremy Spake's blog Do Something Constructive. Jeremy just came off a stint working on Coraline and now he has plenty of time for blogging, so check it out.


Ok, I looked into it a bit, and I see Dramatica is a sort of cut-and-paste system of creating a story.... decide which type of Character each one is from the official Dramatica list, plug them in alongside your allowed Dramatica themes and plot devices, trace a few lines from box to box, and get your Resolution. Well, not quite that simple, but it definitely sounds like a plug-in system. Could definitely be useful in helping find new ways to break down character and story, but I'd caution against wholeheartedly plunging in (plugging in?) to Dramatica. Though I do like the talk about the difference between a Tale and a Story.... as I have a great interest in Tales like those of Edgar Allen Poe and H P Lovecraft. A Tale is also a thing that can be told in short format, which would be a very challenging showcase for a really sophisticated Story.

I'll be reading this blog quite a bit though. Some really good stuff to be found there, even is Dramatica sounds suspiciously like the storytelling version of Scientology.....


James Hull said...

Hey Mike,

Thanks for the kind words.

I can totally assure you that Dramatica is anything BUT a cut and paste system. It might look that way at first, but if you're really interested in the reason why some stories work better than others, learning the theory would be well worth your time.

The reason why there is a computer program for the theory is because there are so many details that go into making a story, trying to keep it all straight in your head would be virtually impossible.

In short, you answer some questions about what kind of a story YOU want to tell and the program reflects back to you all the information you need to write a whole and complete story. This information SUPPORTS the story you are trying to write but it can be interpreted by you, the author, anyway you want. While it is very strict in the way it approaches stories, it is very open in the way you want to present the material.

As far as the Scientology fear, check out my post The Cult of Dramatica. That should help allay any of your fears. Any other questions feel free to contact me through the link on my site.

Thanks again for the positive feedback,


Anonymous said...

I've seen the Storyfanatic site, seems to have some great posts on story related things.

I'm in the animation industry and I've read through a lot of posts at, posts on the site are from a storyboard artist named Mark Kennedy, tons of useful resources!

Darkmatters said...

.... wow....

Hey Jim,

Amazing that you found me so quickly!!!! Actually, I gotta say, it adds to the cultlike mystique.... write anything disparaging about Dramatica and one of its warrior priests will immediately feel a disturbance in the force and hunt you down with warm words of compassion - ;)

Ok, now I feel like I owe it to you to look into Dramatica a bit more, give it a serious chance. Hope I don't end up making a fool of myself on Oprah's couch!

Actually I do like to investigate different approaches to storytelling, mostly in the hopes that no single one dominates my thinking. Plus of course it gives you more tools to do the job.

And A. Nony -

Sounds cool... I'll definitely check into it. I'm just still stunned by Jim's amazing powers of divination....


James Hull said...


I have my site setup so that whenever someone links to it or makes a comment I get instantly notified on my phone. 2 reasons why: 1) cause I think it's cool 2) because I like to read what other people have to say about what I write (especially if it's positive!).

Good luck in your research, and I'll talk to you again when you reach the 5th level ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Strider. Very interesting post. I like the arugment explanation. Haven't thought of things that way before. Will be checking out the storyfanatic site some more.

j.spake said...

thanks for the link and the name drop! bff!