Dramatica Writer's DreamKit - What is It?

This is a review of Dramatica Writer's DreamKit, which is a story building software for writers. I've used this software to help write three books, starting with my first, back in the mid 1990s. Advertised as a step-by-step fiction writing system, Dramatica is built on a theory of story that guides you to assemble your story to include the character relationships and motivations necessary for success. Currently, you can buy the software for around $60   More expensive versions with more features are available, but can cost close to $200.  I used the least expensive, basic version and found it was plenty deep and complex enough for my taste.

So what does Dramatica Writer's DreamKit do? After you install the software on your computer, you start the Dramatica process, answering questions as you 'build' your story through the Story Guide function.  The first questions ask you to describe your story--what happens in the beginning, middle, and end.  It then prompts you to outline the main story events.  After that, the software helps you create your characters and set up their relationships; protagonist vs. antagonist, sidekick vs. skeptic, and so on.

The software then begins collecting more specific information.  What kinds of questions does Dramatica ask?  Here's an example:  Does the Main Character change her way of dealing with the problem at the heart of the story, or does she remain steadfast in her resolve?  Based on your answer to this question, the following questions build and guide based on your input.  Is she a do-er or a be-er?  Does he solve problems logically or intuitively? Roughly a dozen questions like this help you flesh out the mindset of your characters and give you a framework of how they should respond to virtually any situation you write them into.  Obviously, you can go back and change things as you go, and the software prints out summary reports at various milestone points.

After forming the story based on your characters, the Story Guide moves on to the next module, which illustrates how these character decisions come to life in your story. After completing the Illustrating module, you move to the third and final part, called Storyweaving.  In this exercise, you began to build scenes and 'weave' your story together.  At the end of the process, Dramatica produces reports and outlines detailing all the important information your story should contain.

You can easily spend hours with the software, especially the first story you build using it, as you learn about its functions, concepts, and terminology.  There's a lot more to Dramatica than I can cover here, but hopefully this gives you an idea of what it is and whether or not it might be 'your cup of tea.' If you're interested, I'd suggest reading more here.  I find it a useful tool, and intend to keep using it.