by Melanie Anne Phillips & Chris Huntley
Co-creators of the Dramatica Theory
An author builds an argument that the Main Character was either justified or not in his actions, then “proves” the point by concluding the story with an outcome of success or failure and a judgment of good or bad. In this way, the author hopes to convince an audience that actions taken in a particular context are appropriate or inappropriate. The audience members hope to become convinced that when the proper course of action is unclear, they can rely on a more “objective” truth to guide them.
In real life, only time will tell if our actions will ultimately achieve what we want and if that will bring us more happiness than hurt. In stories, it is the author who determines what is justified and what is not. Within the confines of the story, the author’s view IS objective truth.
The author’s ability to decide the validity of actions “objectively” changes the meaning of justification from how we have been using it. In life, when actions are seen as justified, it means that everyone agrees with the reasons behind the actions. In stories, reasons don’t count. Even if all the characters agree with the reasons, the author might show that all the characters were wrong. Reasons just explain why characters act as they do. Consensus regarding the reasons does not determine correctness.
From the Dramatica Theory Book