Review of Dramatica
Dramatica, Dream or Nightmare?
One of the software programs I have and love is Dramatica Pro. Being a cheapskate, I purchased an old copy of Version 2 on eBay first. Not happy with all that the older version lacked, I upgraded quickly to Version 4.
What does Dramatica Pro do for me? For one it helps me build multidimensional characters. No longer am I stuck with just a Protagonist and an Antagonist. I have Impact Characters, a Contaganist, Mentors, Sidekicks and others. Each character plays a role in the story.
Everytime you open Dramatica you find yourself receiving a mini psychology course. Every character has a function and each has a motivation. No function or motivation, then what is he or she doing in your story? Dramatica forces you to think about these things.
Dramatica also allows me to plan my story line, right down to the miniscule plot point. It allows me to weave multiple storylines into one. Every subplot now works with the overall plot of the story.
This is one of those software programs where you do answer questions about your story. When you first open the program, you are presented with twelve tiled buttons, each representing a different function within the program.
The easiest way to get up and running is to click on the Story Guide/Start Here button. You will then choose a level in which you wish to work. Short stories and novellas may need only Level One, while screenplays and novels probably need Level Three. To be honest, I've never worked Level Two.
Before filling out any of the screens, you should decide if you wish to use a Novel, Screenplay, or Short Story Template. If so, load them first. After you have started work, it is too late.
Alternatively, if you prefer, you can start with the character tile. From there, you can choose to use Archetypes for your story people, add pictures for each player and decide who is the main character and the protagonist (and no, they don't have to be the same person-think To Kill a Mockingbird).
Dramatica Writer's Dreamkit works in the same way. The difference between the two is the number of questions the program asks. You could say that Dreamkit is the kid brother of the Pro version. The only other difference is the price, Dreamkit retails for around fifty dollars and Dramatica Pro is extremely pricey at around two hundred. Both can be found at bargain prices on eBay and other places online.
That said, the Dramatica Theory of Story does have drawbacks. The learning curve for this program is steep. It doesn't matter if you use the Pro version or the Dreamkit. Both versions come with the online version of The Dramatica Theory Book, and plenty of help files.
What is included was not enough, at least for me. I've downloaded tapes, printed out two 3 inch binders full of comments, hints and explanations, plus belong to both email groups dedicated to the software. I still have much to learn. Other books have been written, Companion software has been compiled and classes are available on cd-rom and I've only got a basic understanding of the theory.
The Dramatica Theory Book is now back in print and available online. Dramatica for Screenwriter's by Armando Saldana Mora is a new book that is helpful to both screenwriters and fiction writers.
This is not a program to buy if you want to crank out your bestseller in the next six months. It will take you longer than that just to begin to understand the method of storytelling that it advocates. Is it worth the money? In my mind every penny, I've never regretted my decision to purchase the full program. Not only will it allow you to really deep think your characters and your story, it will almost force you to consider things about your tale that would normally never cross your mind.
To determine if Dramatica is for you, download the demo. While you cannot save or print your work, it will give you an idea of what the program is all about. Alternatively, the less expensive Dreamkit version will allow you to really decide if you want to make the big investment needed for the full blown version.
Great storyline and character planer
Helps creating sinful subplots
Weave multiple storylines into one
Rather pricey pro version at $209.95
Dramatica is probably the best fiction writing software out there. It offers great assistance in terms of planning your story, characters, and plot, including several subplots which you might weave into one using dramatica's assistance. Dramatica is highly regarded among fiction writers, and we also highly recommend it if you plan to write fictional stories in a professional manner.