Melanie Anne Phillips’ and Chris Huntley’s perspective on story structure and analysis.
One of the key considerations in Dramatica Theory is the various perspectives an audience can be given of the issue at the heart of the story. It is through these perspectives that all angles of the central issue can be explored as the story unfolds.
According to Dramatica Theory there are four different perspectives:
The Objective Story Throughline
The first perspective is the most dispassionate look at the story. It views things from afar, placing the emphasis on the events that unfold and the roles and functions of individuals within the story rather than who they are. In many ways it is synonymous with the overarching plot.
In Star Wars, the objective story view is:
A civil war in the galaxy between the Rebels and the evil Empire. The Empire has built a Death Star which will destroy the Rebels if it isn’t destroyed first. To even hope for a successful attack, the Rebels need the plans to the Death Star which are in the possession of a farm boy and an old Jedi master. These two encounter many other characters while delivering the plans, ultimately leading to a climactic space-battle on the surface of the Death Star.
The Main Character Throughline
The second perspective is the most personal. Through the main character the audience is placed in the thick of the action and given an idea of what it would be like to actually experience the events that are unfolding. From this perspective the audience is too concerned with immediate happenings to see the larger strategies that are unfolding.
In Star Wars, the main character view is:
The personal growth of Luke Skywalker over the course of this story. Luke is a farm boy who dreams of being a star pilot, but he can’t allow himself to leave his foster parents to pursue his dreams. He learns that he is the son of a great Jedi Knight. When his foster parents are killed, he begins studying the religion of the Jedi: the Force. Surviving many dangerous situations, Luke learns to trust himself more and more. Ultimately he makes a leap of faith to trust his feelings over his computer technology while flying into battle as the Rebel’s last hope of destroying the Death Star. It turns out well, and Luke is changed by the experience.
The Obstacle Character Throughline
The third perspective is from the perspective of someone presenting the main character with a dilemma. It advocates an alternative path and forces the main character to choose.
In Star Wars, the obstacle character view is:
The impact of Obi Wan Kenobi (especially on Luke Skywalker) over the course of the story. Obi Wan is a wizened old Jedi who sees everything as being under the mystic control of the Force. He amazes people with his resiliency and ability, all of which he credits to the Force.
The Subjective Story Throughline
The fourth perspective describes the course of the struggle between the main character and the obstacle character.
In Star Wars, the subjective story view is:
The course of the relationship between Luke and Obi Wan. Obi Wan needs Luke to help him and he knows Luke has incredible potential as a Jedi. Luke, however, needs to be guided carefully because his desires are so strong and his abilities so new. Obi Wan sets about the manipulations which will help Luke see the true nature of the Force and learn to trust himself.