In the words of the renowned novelist Franz Kafka, “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?” Kafka believed in conveying raw emotions like sadness, anxiety, or guilt through storytelling. As writers, it is essential to understand that drama is the key to creating conflict, which in turn propels our narratives forward seamlessly. Whether you are writing in the drama genre or any other, incorporating conflict is inevitable, and we can achieve this in several compelling ways.
The first story I wrote was a coming-of-age story. My main concern in writing it was to make it dramatic enough without making the main character too miserable. I wanted to tell his story, not make the reader feel sorry for him. To do that, I had to do my research. I asked myself, “What can I do to add drama that my readers will want to engage with?”
In this article, I will share six techniques to add drama to your stories and leave your readers on the edge of their seats.
1. Think about what’s the worst that could happen:
To infuse conflict into your story, ask yourself, “What if…?” Explore various scenarios and contemplate the worst possible outcomes. For instance, imagine a hero in a science fiction book visiting an alien planet to discover an entire civilization, unbeknownst to them. What if your hero was part of that civilization? This twist introduces an array of potential conflicts, such as the hero’s struggle to fit in and the risk of losing their identity and loved ones. By brainstorming multiple possibilities, you can craft a more intricate and engaging plot.
2. Give your characters hidden motives:
Adding characters with ulterior motives to your story paves the way for suspicion and betrayal. This intrigue can lead to dramatic revelations later in the narrative. For example, the hero’s father in the aforementioned science fiction book might have always known their child’s true origin but kept it concealed. The impact of this revelation on the hero’s emotions and decisions can create compelling conflicts and character development.
3. Make your characters lose somebody they love:
Losing a loved one is one of the most tragic events a character can experience, but it must be handled with care. Ensure that the character who faces loss is well-developed and integral to the story. Establishing the potential for loss from the beginning allows readers to form a connection with the character, making the emotional impact more profound. Use this technique thoughtfully, as the character’s grief can also catalyze growth and motivation in the narrative.
4. Consider giving your characters a sad backstory:
Delving into a character’s past can add depth and complexity to their personality. Understanding their motivations and beliefs allows readers to empathize with them on a human level. Additionally, a sad backstory can serve as a source of unresolved conflicts that haunt the character in the present, further intensifying the drama and tension in the story.
5. Use foreshadowing:
Foreshadowing is a powerful tool to build tension and curiosity in your readers. By dropping subtle hints about future events, you create anticipation and intrigue. Employ foreshadowing through dialogue, symbols, or misdirection, balancing the clues to maintain surprise while still hinting at what’s to come. A well-executed foreshadowing technique can heighten the impact of plot twists and major revelations.
6. Have your characters face a moral dilemma:
Moral dilemmas force characters to make difficult choices that challenge their values and beliefs. For instance, a hero who is against killing might be forced to take a life to save their loved ones. This internal conflict creates opportunities for character growth and compelling storytelling as readers ponder the decision’s consequences.
Introducing drama into your writing is an invigorating endeavor that requires thoughtful consideration of character development, plot twists, and emotional impact. As writers, we aim to engage our readers and evoke strong emotions, and these six techniques are powerful tools to achieve just that. Remember that drama should seamlessly blend with your characters, setting, and narrative. By experimenting with these methods, you can elevate your storytelling and craft unforgettable drama that resonates with your audience. Embrace the power of drama, and your stories will captivate readers from beginning to end. Happy writing!