This post originally went live on February 14, 2018. Weird that the first of the Top 5 are from early in 2018.
Adding drama into your writing can be tough and many are leery about adding this due it skewing toward the negative. Yet, it’s fairly unavoidable if you sit down and consider what can be born from it. We may even add it without realizing what we’re doing. There are days I think we all have different views and definitions of drama. Some people consider it a genre while others call it a literary tool. So, are there any tips that can cross every genre and be seen as universal?
- Drama tends to be seen as highly emotional, which means it can be the cornerstone of conflict. When a person or character goes through change, they have emotions that guide them just as much as thoughts. This is part of their growth, so we have to consider this in our writing. Without this type of drama, the characters become stagnant and never change. There might not even be a story at all because every event has at least a touch of drama.
- It doesn’t always have to be negative. A definition of drama is ‘an exciting and emotional series of events’. That doesn’t mean it’s always bad. Sure, there can be some downturns, but the characters can remain optimistic or happy. We tend to relate drama to characters being put through some type of trauma or being pushed to the brink of sanity. Yet, it really doesn’t have to be that way if you stick to the mentioned definition.
- You can still have humor when working with drama. There is a type of person who will crack jokes in the face of stress and despair. Others will do it when they’re happy. My point is that you can still have at least a basic level of comedy when drama is taking the spotlight. It’s risky though. You’ll have readers that don’t like this, but everybody has their own take on when the right time for humor is.
- Male characters are allowed to cry too. Doesn’t matter if people see it as a sign of weakness. Crying is a natural response to physical and mental pain. The character’s equipment doesn’t change this, especially if he’s struck in the equipment. That could be either a dramatic or comedic event.
- Drama doesn’t have to be the main plot point of a story. Sometimes, it works best as a subplot to give a specific character a stronger foundation. This is especially true for genres like fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Their focus can be more on the adventures in that world, which isn’t always drama. So, while the characters proceed along their path, these smaller, personal stories can help them evolve. It doesn’t even have to be for the main story, but to pose them as multi-dimensional characters. After all, those of us in the real world deal with our main job and personal dramas all the time.
- There should be a payoff for drama since it can be very taxing on the author, characters, and readers. Going through an unexpected and emotional event with no closure can feel like a waste of time. You don’t have to have a clear idea of the finale of the drama when you start, but it needs to be there. This also has to make sense within the context of the story. Twists are fun and can earn praise, but they can backfire if there’s no foundation to make them plausible.
- Never be ashamed of including drama within your story. These things happen in real life, so why should fiction be any different?