Prompts and Pointers

The 36 Dramatic Situations

When people are looking for plot ideas or new events to sprinkle into their roleplays, the first place I am going to point them is to this article.

Published first in a french book of the same title in the 19th century, this list has been of a massive aid to writers ever since. Written by french writer Georges Polti, it was meant to categorize every possible situation which might occur in anything from a poem to a play. The list came about after extensive studies of Greek texts, french literature, as well as non-french literature. Polti claimed to continue the work of Carlo Gozzi, who had also, himself, found these thirty-six situations. 

1. Supplication

Required Elements : a Persecutor; a Suppliant; a Power in authority whose decision is doubtful 

The Persecutor accuses the Suppliant of wrongdoing, and the Power makes a judgement against the Suppliant. 

2. Deliverance 

Required Elements : an Unfortunate; a Threatener; a Rescuer

The Unfortunate has caused a conflict, and the Threatener is to carry out justice, but the Rescuer saves the Unfortunate. 

3. Crime

Required Elements : a Criminal; an Avenger

The Criminal commits a crime that will not see justice, so the Avenger seeks justice by punishing the Criminal.

4. Vengeance Taken for Kin upon Kin

Required Elements : Guilty Kinsman; an Avenging Kinsman; remembrance of the Victim, a relative of both

Two entities, the Guilty and the Avenging Kinsmen, are put into conflict over wrongdoing to the Victim, who is allied to both. 

5. Pursuit

Required Elements : Punishment; a Fugitive

The Fugitive flees Punishment for a misunderstood conflict.

6. Disaster 

Required Elements : a Vanquished Power; a Victorious Enemy or a Messenger

The Power falls from their place after being defeated by the Victorious Enemy or being informed of such a defeat by the Messenger

7. Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune

Required Elements : an Unfortunate; a Master or a Misfortune

The Unfortunate suffers from Misfortune and/or at the hands of the Master

8. Revolt

Required Elements : a Tyrant; a Conspirator

The Tyrant, a cruel power, is plotted against by the Conspirator. 

9. Daring Enterprise 

Required Elements : a Bold Leader; an Object; an Adversary

The Bold Leader takes the Object from the Adversary by overpowering the Adversary

10. Abduction

Required Elements : an Abductor; the Abducted; a Guardian

The Abductor takes the Abducted from the Guardian. 

11. The Enigma

Required Elements : a Problem; an Interrogator; a Seeker

The Interrogator poses a Problem to the Seeker and gives a Seeker better ability to reach the Seeker’s goals.

12. Obtaining

Required Elements : [a Solicitor & an Adversary who is refusing] or [an Arbitrator & Opposing Parties] + an Object

[The Solicitor is at odds with the Adversary who refuses to give the Solicitor the Object in the possession of the Adversary] or [The Arbitrator decides who gets the Object desired by Opposing Parties]

13. Enmity of Kin

Required Elements : a Malevolent Kinsman; a Hatred or a reciprocally-hating Kinsman

The Malevolent Kinsman and the Hated or a second Malevolent Kinsman conspire together

14. Rivalry of Kin

Required Elements : the Preferred Kinsman; the Rejected Kinsman; the Object of Rivalry

The Object of Rivalry chooses the Preferred Kinsman over the Rejected Kinsman

15. Murderous Adultery

Required Elements : two Adulterers; a Betrayed Spouse

Two Adulterers conspire to killed the Betrayed Spouse

16. Madness

Required Elements : a Madman; a Victim

The Madman goes insane and wrongs the Victim

17. Fatal Imprudence

Required Elements : the Imprudent; a Victim or an Object Lost

The Imprudent, by neglect or ignorance, loses the Object Lost or wrongs the Victim

18. Involuntary Crimes of Love

Required Elements : a Lover; a Beloved; a Revealer

The Revealer betrays the trust of either the Lover or the Beloved

19. Slaying of Kin Unrecognized

Required Elements : the Slayer; and Unrecognized Victim

The Slayer kills the Unrecognized Victim

20. Self-sacrifice for an Ideal

Required Elements : a Hero; an Ideal; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed

The Hero sacrifices the Person or Thing for their Ideal, which is then taken by the Creditor

21. Self-sacrifice for Kin

Required Elements : a Hero; a Kinsman; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed

The Hero sacrifices a Person or Thing for their Kinsman, which is then taken by the Creditor

22. All Sacrificed for Passion

Required Elements : a Lover; an Object of fatal Passion; the Person/Thing sacrificed

A Lover sacrifices a Person or Thing for the Object of their Passion, which is then lost forever. 

23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones

Required Elements : a Hero; a Beloved Victim; the Necessity for their Sacrifice

The Hero wrongs the Beloved Victim because of the Necessity for their Sacrifice

24. Rivalry of Superior vs. Inferior

Required Elements : a Superior Rival; an Inferior Rival; the Object of Rivalry

A Superior Rival bests an Inferior Rival and wins the Object of Rivalry

25.  Adultery

Required Elements :  two Adulterers; a Deceived Spouse

Two Adulterers conspire against the Deceived Spouse.

26. Crimes of Love

Required Elements : a Lover; the Beloved

A Lover and the Beloved enter a conflict.

27. Discovery of the Dishonour of a loved one

Required Elements : a Discoverer; the Guilty One

The Discoverer discovers the wrongdoing committed by the Guilty One.

28. Obstacles to Love

Required Elements : two Lovers; an Obstacle

Two Lovers face an Obstacle together.

29. An Enemy Loved

Required Elements : a Lover; the Beloved Enemy; the Hater

The allied Lover and Hater have diametrically opposed attitudes towards the Beloved Enemy.

30. Ambition

Required Elements : an Ambitious Person; a Thing Coveted; an Adversary

The Ambitious Person seeks the Thing Coveted and is opposed by the Adversary. 

31. Conflict with a God

Required Elements : a Mortal; an Immortal

The Mortal and the Immortal enter a conflict.

32. Mistaken Jealousy

Required Elements :  a Jealous One; an Object of whose Possession He is Jealous; a Supposed Accomplice; a Cause or an Author of the Mistake

The Jealous One falls victim to the Cause or the Author of the Mistake and becomes jealous of the Object and becomes conflicted with the Supposed Accomplice.

33. Erroneous Judgement

Required Elements : a Mistaken One; a Victim of the Mistake; a Cause or Author of the Mistake; the Guilty One

The Mistaken One falls victim to the Cause or the Author of the Mistake and passes judgement against the Victim of the Mistake, when it should be passed against the Guilty One instead. 

34. Remorse

Required Elements : a Culprit; a Victim or the Sin; an Interrogator

The Culprit wrongs the Victim or commits the Sin, and is at odds with the Interrogator who seeks to understand the situation.

35. Recovery of a Lost One

Required Elements : a Seeker; the One Found

The Seeker finds the One Found.

36. Loss of Loved On

Required Elements : a Kinsman Slain; a Kinsman Spectator; an Executioner

The killing of the Kinsman Slain by the Executioner is witnessed by the Kinsman Spectator.

posted 1 year ago with 2,839 notes

  1. fuckyeahroleplaying reblogged this from writingweasels
  2. liliwrites reblogged this from prompts-and-pointers
  3. laconiceyebrow reblogged this from writeworld
  4. no-rivers-and-no-lakes reblogged this from ibelievepracticemakesperfect
  5. a-story-a-story reblogged this from booksandhotchocolate
  6. zafts-prince reblogged this from prompts-and-pointers
  7. stormyreferences reblogged this from stormofthunder
  8. forever-flightless reblogged this from writeworld
  9. bliss-oss reblogged this from osirisredduelist
  10. yliaster-z-one reblogged this from osirisredduelist
  11. osirisredduelist reblogged this from prompts-and-pointers
  12. hurlingwordsintodarkness reblogged this from mywritingjourney
  13. spiritofthewriter reblogged this from writeworld and added:
    This is awesome! Here’s another great resource for Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations, including the elements, the...
  14. blackbutterfly4224 reblogged this from flamingogurl
  15. channellingebert reblogged this from inspirethisartist
  16. mizukitsune10 reblogged this from willandwordwrites
  17. erensjunk reblogged this from writeworld
  18. softdomme reblogged this from fixyourwritinghabits
  19. willandwordwrites reblogged this from writingweasels
  20. theromanticsadist reblogged this from momothestripes
  21. anthropologicalhands reblogged this from writeworld
  22. chimingbell reblogged this from prompts-and-pointers
  23. hermes-notebook reblogged this from a-writers-help