Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations--Part 3

Continuing with the 36 situations:

21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred. Hero, kinsman, creditor or person/thing sacrificed. Example: Cyrano de Bergerac.

22. All Sacrificed for a Passion. Lover, object of fatal passion, person/thing sacrificed. Although the passion is often sexual, it doesn’t have to be. In the example, it’s the passion/lust for alcohol. Example: Leaving Las Vegas.

23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones. Hero, beloved victim, necessity for sacrifice. Example: Abraham and Isaac.

24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior. Superior rival, inferior rival, the object. Example: Rocky.

25. Adultery. Deceived husband or wife, two adulterers. Examples: Bridges of Madison County, Same Time Next Year, The Piano.

26. Crimes of Love. The lover, beloved. These crimes can include incest, murder, and others. Examples: Chinatown (incest), The Apostle (murder).

27. Discovery of a Loved One’s Dishonor. Discoverer, guilty one. Presents a similar struggle as to that in Sacrifice of a Loved One, but without the attraction of a high ideal. Here, the ideal is replaced with shame. Example: Redeeming Love. (In that the wife, Angel, returns to her prostitution. However, this book also presents other situations, such as #2, Deliverance.)

28. Obstacles to Love. Lovers, an obstacle. This is a situation present in every modern romance. Love can be prevented by inequalities, family, and myriad other circumstances. Polti apparently was none too fond of this situation—and would be appalled at the number of romances selling today. “Whether the piece treats of sociology, of politics, or religion, of questions of art, of the invention of a gun, of the discovery of a chemical product, of it matters not what—a love story it must have; there is no escape. Savants, revolutionists, poets, priests or generals present themselves to us only to fall immediately to love-making or match-making. It becomes a mania. And we are asked to take these tiresome repetitions seriously!” (Sheesh. Take that, Danielle Steele!)Example: Pretty Woman.

29. An Enemy Loved. Beloved enemy, lover, hater. This one can cross into Obstacles to Love. Example: Romeo and Juliet.

30. Ambition. Ambitious person, thing coveted, adversary. Can lead to Daring Enterprise, Enmity of Kinsmen, or Rivalry of Kinsmen. Example: Jerry McGuire.

31. Conflict with a God. Mortal, immortal. This is the situation of most ancient treatment, upon with many of the Greek myths are founded. Modern example: Rosemary’s Baby.

32. Mistaken Jealousy. Jealous one, object of jealousy, supposed accomplice, cause or author of mistakes. The last element is either not personified or is personified as a traitor. Example: Othello.

33. Erroneous Judgment. Mistaken one, victim of mistake, cause or author of mistake, guilty person. Includes false suspicions, accusation of innocent. Sometimes the guilty purposely sheds suspicion on another. Example: Body Heat.

34. Remorse. Culprit, victim or sin, interrogator. Includes false guilt. Example: Crime and Punishment.

35. Recovery of a Lost One. The seeker, one found. Includes recovery of a stolen child, of one wrongly imprisoned, etc. Examples: The Man in the Iron Mask, The Deep End of the Ocean.

35. Loss of Loved Ones. Kinsman slain, kinsman spectator, executioner. Example: Love Story.

Tomorrow, Polti’s conclusion to his book, which focuses on nuances of the situations, and how they produce an infinite number of stories. Here's where it gets interesting.

Read Part 4


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...


How do you see these 36 dramatic situations fitting with Christopher Vogler's ideas in The Writer's Journey, or do you?


Dineen A. Miller said...

Eww, Becky, good question.
Brandilyn, this book sounds fascinating. I think I'm going to put it on my wish list. Thanks for telling us about it.

And I thought you were going to take it easy a little, maybe not blog everyday since you're so swamped. Hey, I'm not complaining! LOL! I just don't want to see you get burnt out. Gotta keep those fab books coming, you know? ;-)

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I think that having these 36 situations gives a writer unlimited material for novels, especially if they have the knack of adding that 'fresh twist'.

didymus said...

22. All Sacrificed for a Passion. What better example than the self righteous sinner who will sacrifice everything on the altar of pride rather than be delivered from the delusion.