The screenwriters FAQ (the FAQ list for the SCRNWRIT email discussion list) lives at http://www.panam.edu/scrnwrit/. Section XIV (Writing Tips), Part D (Major League Tools), Item 7 contains the following:
THE THIRTY-SEVEN DRAMATIC SITUATIONS By Georges Polti 1. SUPPLICATION (To humbly petition). Elements: A persecutor, a humble petitioner, and a power in authority whose decision is doubtful. A1 Fugitives imploring the powerful for help against their enemies. A2 Assistance implored for the performance of a pious duty which has been forbidden. A3 Appeals for refuge in which to die. B1 Hospitality besought by the shipwrecked. B2 Charity entreated by those cast off by their own people, whom they have disgraced. B3 Expiration: the seeking of pardon, healing or deliverance. B4 The surrender of a corpse, or relic, solicited. C1 Supplication of the powerful for those dear to the suppliant. C2 Supplication to a relative in behalf of another relative. C3 Supplication to a mother's lover, in her behalf. 2. DELIVERANCE. Elements: An unfortunate, a threatener, a rescuer. A Appearance of a rescuer to the condemned. B1 A parent replaced on the throne by his children. B2 Rescue by friends, or by strangers grateful for benefits or hospitality. 3. CRIME PUNISHED BY VENGEANCE. Elements: An avenger and a criminal. A1 The avenging of a slain parent or ancestor. A2 The avenging of a slain child or descendant. A3 Vengeance for a child dishonored. A4 The avenging of a slain wife or husband. A5 Vengeance for the dishonor, or the attempted dishonoring, of a wife. A6 Vengeance for a mistress slain. A7 Vengeance for a slain or injured friend. A8 Vengeance for a sister seduced. B1 Vengeance for intentional injury or spoilation. B2 Vengeance for having been despoiled during absence. B3 Revenge for an attempted slaying. B4 Revenge for a false accusation. B5 Vengeance for violation. B6 Vengeance for having been robbed of one's own. B7 Revenge upon a whole sex for a deception by one. C Professional pursuit of criminals. 4. VENGEANCE TAKEN FOR KINDRED UPON KINDRED. Elements: Avenging kinsman, guilty kinsman, remembrance of the victim, a relative of both. A1 A father's death avenged upon a mother. A2 A mother avenged upon a father. B A brother's death avenged upon a son. C A father's death avenged upon a husband. D A husband's death avenged upon a father. 5. PURSUIT. Elements: Punishment and fugitive. A Fugitives from justice pursued for crimes, political offenses, etc. B Pursued for a fault of love. C A hero struggling against a power. D A pseudo-madman struggling against an alienist. 6. DISASTER. Elements: A vanquished power, a victorious enemy or a messenger A1 Defeat suffered. A2 A fatherland destroyed. A3 The fall of humanity. A4 A natural catastrophe. B A monarch overthrown. C1 Ingratitude suffered. C2 The suffering of unjust punishment or enmity. C3 An outrage suffered. D1 Abandonment by a lover or a husband. D2 Children lost by their parents. 7. FALLING PREY TO CRUELTY OR MISFORTUNE. Elements: An unfortunate; a master or a misfortune. A The innocent made the victim of ambitious intrigue. B The innocent despoiled by those who should protect. C1 The powerful dispossessed and wretched. C2 A favorite or an intimate finds himself forgotten. D The unfortunate robbed of their only hope. 8. REVOLT. Elements: Tyrant and conspirator. A1 A conspiracy chiefly of one individual. A2 A conspiracy of several. B1 Revolt of one individual, who influences and involves others. B2 A revolt of many. 9. DARING ENTERPRISE. Elements: A bold leader, an object, an adversary. A Preparations for war. B1 War. B2 Combat. C1 Carrying off a desired person or object. C2 Recapture of a desired object. D1 Adventurous expeditions. D2 Adventure undertaken for the purpose of obtaining a beloved woman. 10. ABDUCTION. Elements: The abductor, the abducted, the guardian. A Abduction of an unwilling woman. B Abduction of a consenting woman. C1 Recapture of the woman without the slaying of the abductor. C2 The same case, with the slaying of the ravisher. D1 Rescue of a captive friend. D2 Of a child. D3 Of a soul in captivity to error. 11. THE ENIGMA. Elements: Interrogator, seeker, and problem. A Search for a person who must be found on pain of death. B1 A riddle to be solved on pain of death. B2 The same case, in which the riddle is proposed by the coveted woman. C1 Temptations suffered with the object of discovering his name. C2 Temptations offered with the object of ascertaining the sex. C3 Tests for the purpose of ascertaining the mental condition. 12. OBTAINING. Elements: A solicitor and an adversary who is refusing, or an arbitrator opposing parties. A Efforts to obtain an object by ruse or force. B Endeavor by means of persuasive eloquence along. C Eloquence with an arbitrator. 13. ENMITY OF KINSMEN. Elements: A malevolent kinsman, a hated or reciprocally hating kinsman. A Hatred of brothers: A1 One brother hated by several. A2 Reciprocal hatred. A3 Hatred between relatives for reasons of self-interest. B Hatred of father and son: B1 Of the son for the father. B2 Mutual hatred. B3 Hatred of daughter for father. C Hatred of grandfather for grandson. D Hatred of father-in-law for son-in-law. E Hatred of mother-in-law for son-in-law. F Infanticide. 14. RIVALRY OF KINSMEN. Elements: The preferred kinsman, the rejected kinsman, and the object. A1 Malicious rivalry of a brother. A2 Malicious rivalry of two brothers. A3 Rivalry of two brothers, with adultery on the part of one. A4 Rivalry of sisters. B1 Rivalry of father and son, for an unmarried woman. B2 Rivalry of father and son, for a married woman. B3 Case similar to the two foregoing, but in which the object is already the wife of the father. B4 Rivalry of mother and daughter. C Rivalry of cousins. D Rivalry of friends. 15. MURDEROUS ADULTERY. Elements: Two adulterers, betrayed husband or wife. A1 The slaying of a husband by or for a paramour. A2 The slaying of a trusting lover. B Slaying of a wife for a paramour, and in self-interest. 16. MADNESS. Elements: Madman and victim. A1 Kinsman slain in madness. A2 A lover slain in madness. A3 Slaying or injuring of a person not hated. B Disgrace brought upon oneself through madness. C Loss of loved ones brought about by madness. D Madness brought on by fear of hereditary insanity. 17. FATAL IMPRUDENCE. Elements: The imprudent, the victim or the object lost. A1 Imprudence the cause of one's own misfortune. A2 Imprudence the cause of one's own dishonor. B1 Curiosity the cause of one's own misfortune. B2 Loss of the possession of a loved one, through curiosity. C1 Curiosity the cause of death or misfortune to others. C2 Imprudence the cause of a relative's death. C3 Imprudence the cause of a lover's death. C4 Credulity the cause of kinsman's death. 18. OEDIPAL. Elements: The lover, the loved, and the revealer. A1 Discovery that one has married one's mother. A2 Discovery that one has had one's sister as mistress. B1 Discovery that one has married one's sister. B2 The same case, in which the crime has been villainously planned by a third person. B3 Being upon the point of taking one's sister, unknowingly, as a mistress. C Being upon the point of violating, unknowingly, a daughter. D1 Being upon the point of committing an adultery, unknowingly. D2 Adultery committed unknowingly. 19. SLAYING OF A KINSMAN UNRECOGNIZED. Elements: The slayer, the unrecognized victim. A1 Being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly, by command of a divinity or an oracle. A2 Through political necessity. A3 Through a rivalry in love. A4 Through hatred of the lover of the unrecognized daughter. B1 Being upon the point of killing a son unknowingly. B2 The same as case B1, strengthened by Machiavellian instigation. B3 The same as case (B2), intermixed with hatred of kinsmen. C Being upon the point of killing one's brother unknowingly: C1 Brothers slaying in anger. C2 A sister slaying through professional duty. D Slaying of a mother unrecognized. E1 A father slain unknowingly through Machiavellian advice. E2 The simple slaying of a father unrecognized. E3 The same case reduced from murder to simple insult. F1 A grandfather slain unknowingly, in vengeance and through instigation. F2 Slain involuntarily. F3 A father-in-law killed involuntarily. G1 Involuntary killing of a loved woman. G2 Upon the point of killing a lover unrecognized. G3 Failure to rescue an unrecognized son. 20. SELF-SACRIFICING FOR AN IDEAL. Elements: The hero, the ideal, the creditor or the person or things sacrificed. A1 Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's word. A2 Life sacrificed for the success of one's people. A3 Life sacrificed for the happiness of one's people. A4 Life sacrificed in filial piety. A5 Life sacrificed for the sake of one's faith. B1 Both love and life sacrificed for the sake of a cause. B2 Love sacrificed to interests of state. C Sacrifice of well-being to duty. D The ideal of honor sacrificed to the ideal of faith. 21. SELF-SACRIFICE FOR KINDRED. Elements: The hero, the kinsman, the creditor or the person or thing sacrificed. A1 Life sacrificed for that of a relative or loved one. A2 Life sacrificed for the happiness of a relative or loved one. B1 Ambition sacrificed for the happiness of a parent. B2 Ambition sacrificed for the life of a parent. C1 Love sacrificed for the sake of a parent's life. C2 For the happiness of one's child. C3 For the happiness of a loved one. C4 The same as 2, but caused by unjust laws. D1 Life and honor sacrificed for the life of a parent or loved one. D2 Modesty sacrificed for the life of a relative or a loved one. 22. ALL SACRIFICED FOR A PASSION. Elements: The lover, the object of the fatal passion, and the person or thing sacrificed. A1 Religious vows of chastity broken for passion. A2 A vow of purity broken. A3 Respect for a priest destroyed. A4 Power ruined by a passion. A5 Ruin of mind, health, and life. A6 Passion gratified at the price of life. A7 Ruin of fortunes, lives, and honor. B Temptations (see 12) destroying the sense of duty, pity, etc. C1 Destruction of honor, fortune, and life by erotic vice. C2 The same effect produced by any other vice. 23. NECESSITY OF SACRIFICING LOVED ONES. Elements: The hero, the beloved victim, and the necessity for the sacrifice. A1 Necessity for sacrificing a daughter in the public interest. A2 Duty of sacrificing her in fulfillment of a vow to God. B1 Duty of sacrificing, under the same circumstances, one's father. B3 Duty of sacrificing, under the same circumstances, one's husband. B4 Duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the public good. B5 Same case under the sake of reputation. B6 Duty of contending with a brother-in-law for the public good. B7 Duty of contending with a friend. 24. RIVALRY OF SUPERIOR AND INFERIOR. Elements: The superior rival, the inferior rival, and the object. A Masculine rivalries. A1 Of a mortal and immortal. A2 Of two divinities of unequal power. A3 Of a magician and an ordinary man. A4 Of conqueror and conquered. A5 Of victor and vanquished. A6 Of a master and a banished man. A7 Of usurper and subject. A8 Of Suzerian King and Vassal Kings. A9 Of a powerful person and upstart. A10 Of rich and poor. A11 Of an honored man and a suspected one. A12 Rivalry of two who are almost equal. A13 Rivalry of equals, one of whom in the past has been proved guilty of adultery. A14 Of a man who is loved and one who has not the right to love. A15 Of the two (or more) successive husbands of a divorcee. B Feminine rivalries. B1 Of a sorceress and an ordinary woman. B2 Of victor and prisoner. B3 Of a queen and slave. B4 Of lady and servant. B5 Of a lady and a woman of humbler position. B6 Of a lady and two women of humbler class. B7 Rivalry of two who are almost equals, complicated by the abandonment of one. B8 Rivalry between the memory or an ideal (that of a superior woman) and a vassal of her own. B9 Rivalry of mortal and immortal. C Double rivalry (A loves B, who loves C, who loves D). D Oriental rivalries (Hindu polygamy). D1 Rivalry of two immortals. D2 Of two mortals. D3 Of two lawful wives. 25. ADULTERY. Elements: A deceived husband or wife and two adulterers. A A mistress betrayed: A1 For a young woman. A2 For a young wife. A3 For a girl. B A wife betrayed: B1 For a slave, who does not love in return. B2 For debauchery. B3 For a married woman. B4 With the intention of bigamy. B5 For a young girl, who does not love in return. B6 A wife envied by a young girl who is in love with her husband. B7 By a courtesan. B8 Rivalry between a lawful wife who is antipathetic and a mistress who is congenial. B9 Between a generous wife and an impassioned girl. C1 An antagonistic husband sacrificed for a congenial lover. C2 A husband, believed to be lost, forgotten for a rival. C3 A commonplace husband sacrificed for a sympathetic lover. C4 A good husband betrayed for an inferior rival. C5 For a grotesque rival. C6 For an odious rival. C7 For a commonplace rival, by a perverse wife. C8 For a less handsome, but useful rival (with comic false suspicions). D1 Vengeance of a deceived husband. D2 Jealousy sacrificed out of pity. E A husband persecuted by a rejected rival. 26. CRIMES OF LOVE. Elements: The lover and the betrayed. A1 A mother in love with her son. A2 A daughter in love with her father. A3 Violation of a daughter by her father. B1 A woman enamored of her stepson. B2 A woman and her stepson enamored of each other. B3 A woman being the mistress, at the same time, of a father and son, both of whom accept the situation. C1 A man becomes the lover of his sister-in-law. C2 The man alone becomes enamored. C3 A brother and sister in love with each other. D1 A man enamored of another man, who yields. D2 A woman enamored of a bull. 27. DISCOVERY OF THE DISHONOR OF A LOVED ONE. Elements: The discoverer and the guilty one. A1 Discovery of a mother's shame. A2 Discovery of a father's shame. A3 Discovery of a daughter's dishonor. B1 Discovery that one's wife has been violated before marriage ... since the marriage. B2 That she previously committed a fault. B3 Discovery that one's wife has formerly been a prostitute. B4 Discovery of dishonor on the part of a lover. B5 Discovery that one's mistress, formerly a prostitute, has returned to her old life. B6 Discovery that one's lover is a scoundrel, or that one's mistress is a woman of bad character ... the same discovery concerning a so-called king. B7 The same discovery concerning one's wife. C Discovery that one's son is an assassin. D1 Duty of punishing a son who is a traitor to country. A brother who is a traitor to his party. D2 Duty of punishing a son condemned under a law which the father has made. D3 Duty of punishing a son believed to be guilty. D4 Duty of sacrificing, to fulfill a vow of tyrannicide, a father until then unknown. D5 Duty of punishing a brother who is an assassin. D6 Duty of punishing one's mother to avenge one's father. 28. OBSTACLES TO LOVE. Elements: Two lovers and an obstacle. A1 Marriage prevented by inequality of rank. A2 Inequality of fortune an impediment to marriage. B Marriage prevented by enemies and contingent obstacles. C1 Marriage forbidden on account of the young woman's previous betrothal to another. C2 The same case, complicated by an imaginary marriage of the beloved object. D1 A free union impeded by the opposition of relatives. D2 Family affection disturbed by the parents-in-law. E By the incompatibility of temper of the lovers. F Love. 29. AN ENEMY LOVED. Elements: The beloved enemy, the lover, and the hater. A The loved one hated by the kinsman of the lover. A1 The lover pursued by the brothers of his beloved. A2 The lover hated by the family of his beloved. A3 The lover is the son of a man hated by the kinsmen of his beloved. A4 The beloved is an enemy of the party of the woman who loves him. B1 The lover is the slayer of the father of his beloved. B2 The beloved is the slayer of the father of the beloved. B3 The beloved is the slayer of the brother of her lover. B4 The beloved is the slayer of the husband of the woman who loves him, but who has previously sworn to avenge that husband. B5 The same case, except that a lover, instead of a husband, has been slain. B6 The beloved is the slayer of a kinsman of the woman who loves him. B7 The beloved is the daughter of the slayer of her lover's father. 30. AMBITION. Elements: An ambitious person, a thing coveted, and an adversary. A1 Ambition watched and guarded against by a kinsman or patriot friend or by a brother. A2 By a relative or person under obligation. A3 By partisans. B Rebellious ambition (akin to #8). C1 Ambition and covetousness heaping crime upon crime. C2 Parricidal ambition. 31. CONFLICT WITH A GOD. Elements: A mortal and an immortal. A1 Struggle against a deity. A2 Strife with the believers in a god. B1 Controversy with a deity. B2 Punishment for contempt of a god. B3 Punishment for pride before a god. B4 Presumptuous rivalry with a god. B5 Imprudent rivalry with a deity. 32. MISTAKEN JEALOUSY. Elements: The jealous one, the object of whose possession he is jealous, the supposed accomplice, and the cause or the author of the mistake. A1 The mistake originates in the suspicious mind of the jealous one. A2 Mistaken jealousy aroused by a fatal chance. A3 Mistaken jealousy of a love which is purely platonic. A4 Baseless jealousy aroused by malicious rumors. B1 Jealousy suggested by a traitor who is moved by hatred. B2 The same case, in which the traitor is moved by self-interest. B3 The same case, in which the traitor is moved by jealousy and self-interest. C1 Reciprocal jealousy suggested to husband and wife by a rival. C2 Jealousy suggested to the husband by a woman who is in love with him. C3 Jealousy suggested to the wife by a second rival. C4 Jealousy suggested to a happy lover by a deceived husband. 33. ERRONEOUS JUDGEMENT. Elements: The mistaken one, the victim of the mistake, the cause or author of the mistake, and the guilty person. A1 False suspicion where faith is necessary. A2 False suspicion (in which the jealousy is not without reason) of a mistress. A3 False suspicions aroused by a misunderstood attitude of a loved one. A4 By indifference. B1 False suspicions drawn upon oneself to save a friend. B2 They fall upon the innocent husband of the guilty one. B3 The same case as B2, but in which the innocent had a guilty intention or in which the innocent believes himself guilty. B4 A witness to a crime, in the interest of a loved one, lets accusation fall upon the innocent. C1 The accusation is allowed to fall upon an enemy. C2 The error is provoked by an enemy. C3 The mistake is directed against the victim by her brother. D1 False suspicion thrown by the real culprit upon one of his enemies. D2 Thrown by the real culprit upon the second victim against whom he has plotted from the beginning. D3 False suspicion thrown upon a rival. D4 Thrown upon one innocent, because he has refused to be an accomplice. D5 Thrown by a deserted mistress upon a lover who left her because he would not deceive her husband. D6 Struggle to rehabilitate oneself and to avenge a judicial error purposely caused. 34. REMORSE. Elements: The culprit, the victim or the sin, and the interrogator. A1 Remorse for an unknown crime. A2 Remorse for parricide. A3 Remorse for an assassination... for a judicial murder. A4 Remorse for the murder of husband or wife. B1 Remorse for a fault of love. B2 Remorse for adultery. 35. RECOVERY OF A LOST ONE. Elements: The seeker and the one found. 36. LOSS OF LOVED ONES. Elements: A kinsman slain, a kinsman spectator, and an executioner. A1 Witnessing the slaying of kinsmen, while powerless to prevent it. A2 Helping to bring misfortune upon one's people through professional secrecy. B Divining the death of a loved one. C Learning of the death of a kinsman or ally. D Relapse in primitive baseness, through despair on learning of the death of a loved one. 37. MISTAKEN IDENTITY. A Thinking someone is rich when he's poor. B The wrong man caught in the web of fear. C Schizophrenia.