No matter how much they say they hate it, human beings love drama and do everything they can to create it. Think about it, if someone is trying to tell a story, either verbally or in stories, they try to bump up the drama of even the most mundane events. Writers use the exaggeration of ordinary events as a way to impress a sense of drama onto the readers. When writers do that they are offering the readers a little slice of drama which, because of it innately commonplace nature, offers the readers something they can easily relate to their own lives. Being able to give your readers something which is easily relatable gives them an easy way to connect to your story.
Let’s say that your main character had to wait fifteen minutes to get a table at a restaurant. They might say something like, “I can’t believe I had to wait a whole fifteen minutes just to get a table”. With the words “I can’t believe” and “a whole fifteen minutes” the author lets the reader know that while a fifteen minute wait isn’t outside the realm of possibility, it is long enough for the character to have decided that it was too long. Also, since having a fifteen minute wait at a restaurant is something which could happen any day of the week to anyone so your readers might read that and go “oh yeah I had to wait a long time to get a table last week too” and that way your reader has an easy way to connect the story to their lives.
Although human beings enjoy dramatizing events writers have to remember that there is good drama and bad drama. Good drama has a point and a purpose. It is created for a specific means like furthering the plot or adding levels of character development. Bad drama has no real purpose like an over the top sex scene or violence. Bad drama may get your story publicity or hype but if it doesn’t move the story it really has no place. To dramatize our lives is only human but as for writing if the drama doesn’t advance the plot or help to develop the characters chances are it is only going to be a dead weight.
The real trick of knowing when to use dramatization is learning when it’s appropriate. Drama, in order for it to sound natural, has to be formulated around the story. If the dramatic isn’t based on a strong foundation it’s sort of like an author who puts a joke in his book just because he thinks it’s funny. Think about it, that joke might be funny on its own but if it doesn’t fit that particular scene, the character or the tone of the book as a whole it is most likely going to seem out of place.
Exercise of the Day: Alien Visitor
Imagine that your narrator is an alien visitor from outer space. Write a short story which describes the alien’s experiences when they first land. What would the alien think of Earth? How would they describe the Earth and its inhabitants?
Have fun with this alien inspired exercise and I will talk to you next time!!! Feel free to comment, follow, or share this post!!