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Top 10 Tips to Create Drama in Your Fiction Story
by Samantha Stone

Create Drama in Your Fiction StoryThe word "drama" is overused in much of entertainment today. Good drama is not obviously forced through overacting or exaggeration, nor does it scream This is drama, folks. That's what used to be called melodrama.

Let your drama come from good plotting and creative storytelling about engaging characters. The rest will fall into place as you write.

How to get to the place? Follow these top 10 tips to keep you on course.

1. Find a Compelling Plot

Have an interesting story to tell. Moving and engaging stories are easier to tell with a compelling plot. For commercial fiction, this plot should have broad enough appeal for your intended readership without dribbling into word-padding.

2. Misunderstandings

The knowledge base for each character should differ slightly, allowing for natural misunderstandings and levels of knowledge. This is a must for suspense and murder mysteries, but can be used in almost all genres.

3. Mistakes

Let mistakes lead your characters into the wrong direction at times. This happens more easily in some genres, like crime and mystery fiction, but can also be used to complicate most other fiction genres, too.

4. Misinformation

Obviously this is a must for murder and mystery genres, but it's also a strong tool in military fiction. Even romance fiction can use this. Shakespeare used it in his romantic comedies. George R.R. Martin uses it well in fantasy. In the latter example, the setting and times alone – medieval era fantasy – allows for faulty communication leading to grave military errors.

5. Yes-Men and Supporting Characters

You can add drama to your story with internal unrest. Use those characters closest to your main character to spark the what-if wonder. Does your character's right-hand man really have his back in that war story? Does the mistress really trust her ladies-in-waiting? Is there a traitor? A secret love interest? Does a Brutus wait in the wings?

6. Un-Easy Road to Romance

Don't let everything fall right into place too easily for your characters, even in sweet romances. Add some conflict either from parents, peers, a rival, even the times or rules governing romantic interests. This is where secondary issues like war, arranged marriages, and scheming relatives can play important roles.

7. Hidden Agendas

This is an easy one in war stories, but it can heighten the drama in other genres, too. Maybe the real need for a little friendly competition among schools is too see how far another team is in their science experiments, or maybe there's only one crown to be worn among the three princes in line for the throne. Goals don't have to be obvious from the onset to the reader.

8. Drama Versus Melodrama

Drama for the sake of drama is sometimes seen as melodrama. The phrase used in current lingo as drama is generally melodrama – the over-exaggeration of a moment to emphasize an emotion (usually a contrived one). Melodrama can be used in your story, but don't make it the vehicle of choice; your careful plotting will yield enough true drama.

9. The Unexpected

Figure the last thing expected of your story or worst thing for your character to face at a moment, and see if it's something you should use. Why? Because if you don't see it coming or if it's a setback for your character, it might be what's needed to raise the impact of your storyline. Be sure to create any setups for this ‘unexpected' turn earlier or it will look manufactured.

10. Keep the Reader Wondering

Think back on the moments when you read a book where those "Didn't see that coming" instances popped up. Were you surprised? Could you see the setups in previous scenes? Did it make sense, but still take you off-guard? If so, good. Don't write your storyline so exclusively that there is no room for wonder from the reader; this reads as pedestrian. Leave enough clues to tantalize the imagination.

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