How to Get the Most Out of Creating Drama
All writers know that drama is a key component of any story. Drama, tension and conflict all go hand in hand, but drama is created in many ways and it brings depth to fiction because it covers story, dialogue, action and description.
But how do you get the most from creating drama?
The root of any dramatic story can be found in a provocative and interesting plot. Boring, mundane stories without much going on simply won’t have any drama to engage the reader. That’s why your story needs to stand out and grab the reader’s interest – it needs to instantly speak to them by being compelling. An interesting story with fascinating characters is a foundation stone to creating drama.
Drama relies on different elements to make it effective. Drama is everything we create within the story, and to get the most out of it, you’ll need to use your story, characters, description and dialogue wisely.
This stems from your compelling plot. As the story unfolds, you’ll need to thrust your characters into extraordinary situations that will put them in danger. The threat of danger instantly creates a sense of drama. This is why we’re constantly horrible and mean to main characters. If they suffer, the reader will suffer, too. They will feel all the emotions our main characters go through.
If you want to get the most out of creating drama – create story situations that fill the reader with fear, dread, angst and unease. Don’t make it easy for them or the main characters. Up the stakes and emphasise the danger.
Storey situations create drama.
Our characters often create their own drama because of how they see others and how they perceive things. They often misunderstand situations or others, and they make false assumptions which can cause conflict. They usually jump to conclusions which often have consequences for everyone. They don’t always get it right and that creates lots of unrest.
The same is true when they make mistakes – usually with terrible ramifications. Flawed characters create drama because they often hurt the people closest to them through those mistakes, and the lengths they have to go to in order to put things right.
Something else that drama loves is secrets and lies. What character doesn’t have something to hide? What lurks in their backstory? What lies would they tell to keep that secret? What would happen if it ever came out? Again, the likely consequences play an essential role in drama development. For everything a character does, something will happen in return, usually something bad or negative.
Character actions create drama.
The right words, the right sentences structures, the right descriptive top notes and imagery, the action, the emotion...they all create drama, suspense, atmosphere and tension because they all rely on your reader’s emotional responses - their fears, their sense of unexpected and their perceptions – to work.
Great description doesn’t just show the reader what is happening, but it steers the reader where you want them, it manipulates them and sometimes misdirects them. Such false paths naturally create drama. Not only that, but the description should be vivid enough to involve them, where they feel they are part of the story and all the drama it has created.
Ramp up the imagery. Bring in the dark tones. Layer the descriptions. Make the reader sit up, bite their nails and hold their breath.
Deft descriptions create drama.
What our characters say is just as important as what they do. Conflict and tensions cause dramatic situations, so powerful dialogue helps to create conflict, unrest and all manner of emotions.
What characters say to each other in any given situation dictates the level of drama – think tense arguments, emotional outbursts, jealous rages, hateful instincts and spiteful intentions. They are also capable of deception and dishonesty in what they say and mean. There’s a pattern here – negative emotions create drama. That’s why dramatic dialogue is all about the emotional undertones.
The right dialogue creates drama.
People just love drama. Our lives revolve around it. So think of your story and your characters in the same way. With an interesting story, tense story situations, larger than life characters, vivid description and dramatic dialogue, you will get the most out of creating drama that keeps your reader gripped from the opening line right up to the last word at the end.