A Quick Guide to Understanding Meta-adaptation

In Discovering the Soul of Your Story, the principles and practices that comprise the core ideas of the book are presented in three parts:

This article reproduces the short-tour summary provided at the end of "Part Three—Meta-adaptation."


The principles of the grok approach are linked to those of thematic imprinting by a critical element that lies at the heart of each—that is, the intent of the main character. This element allows them to be used in tandem to discover and express the soul of any story and to develop new stories from scratch. The practice of doing so may be referred to as "meta-adaptation," which works by providing the storyteller with an orderly course of questioning that allows her to analyze the hidden aspects of her story and develop it along its most organic path.

The practice of meta-adaptation may be approached in terms of a general method and set of basic starting points. The general method includes aspects drawn from both the grok approach and thematic imprinting, including (for the grok approach):

  • Identifying the main character
  • Identifying the intent and condition of value
  • Examining the condition of value
  • Identifying the core ensemble
  • Exploring the inciting incident

and (for thematic imprinting):

  • Identifying the issue
  • Constructing the proposition
  • Specifying the outcome and reaction
  • Considering consolations and collateral damages

Each starting point may be thought of as a gateway through which meta-adaptation can be used to develop new stories. A basic (and non-exhaustive) set of such starting points includes:

  • Existing story
  • Main character
  • Issue
  • Inciting incident
  • Upshot
  • Item of information
  • Matter of debate

The sequence in which the principles of the grok approach and thematic imprinting are applied in each case varies according to starting point. For some starting points, the main character and his intent and condition of value are identified early on in the process. For others, the intent and condition of value derive from an exploration of the issue or inciting incident.

Regardless of the order or manner in which the principles are applied, however, meta-adaptation allows them to be used in a coordinated method to generate new stories from scratch.


For More Information

For details regarding these concepts and terms, see the Discovering the Soul of Your Story—Overview video and the glossary. For more resources, visit the Resources category.

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