Still on my trip, slow baking in the heat, but never the less, I present for your edification Chapter Seven of Story Sense by Paul Lucey, Dramatization.
Drama is the intensification of the emotion you hope to inspire in your reader. You do this by making situations more desperate, more dangerous, more impossible, just more.
The dramatic engine is the most potent of all dramatizing strategies because it motivates the characters, determines action, dictates momentum, controls the intensity of the story, and focuses the drama. There are many engines available.
-The problem as engine: a dramatic problem that pulls opposing forces into conflict over how the issue will resolve.
-The villain as the engine: a powerful antagonist who creates desperate conflict.
-The hero as engine: the protagonist(s) is given a need, a task, or a situation that energizes them or forces them to take action.
-The system as the engine: an organization or a group that serves or corporate on institutional agenda. sinister. the hero will need to expose them.
-A force of nature as the engine: extraordinary natural force (think Jurassic Park, Outbreak, Alien)
-A Task or Quest as the Engine: challenges the hero to achieve a difficult goal or complete an impossible task. Closely bound to the dramatic problem. Encourages the writer to aggravate the problem so that it drives the story.
-The conventions or circumstances of the story as engine: certain genres come with a built in engine. Courtroom dramas, romances, crime stories.
Inventiveness and Engineering
Creatively insert anything you need into the world you have built but be sure to follow the rules you have set once you have set them. Research. Be patient. Keep working it over until it works.
Simple dramatic strategies:
-Obstacles: a character attempts something and is blocked or defeated. Usually deflects the plot into a new direction.
-The Power Tool: Usually appear once or twice to be recognized and present a spike of interest. (think the Force in Star Wars)
-Undeserved Suffering: Makes an audience care about an unjustly abused character. Humanizes when done correctly. Irritates when done in a whiny manner. Often more effective when someone other than the sufferer reveals the backstory.
-Reversals: good news turns to bad news or vice versa.
-Coincidence: something unexpected intrudes and turns the story in a new direction.
-Catalyst: incident, character, or emotional state that speeds up the plot or a relationship.
-Contrast: inequality between characters and/or setting.
-McGuffin: the mysterious device that sets the story in motion.
-The secret plan: the reader doesn’t know what has been planned by the characters but knows it is coming.
-Misunderstanding: characters misinterpret or fail to comprehend the situation
-The False Alarm: character in jeopardy but the threat turns out to be empty
-The reveal: a major plot point or character development point
-Planting and Payoff: introduce a character, location, or item that will later influence the story. It should be planted so it is noticed but does not call attention to itself.
-Lifelines: often provided by the planting, which saves the hero or allows him to win
Parallelism: two similar actions that are intercut to make a single story point.
Sentimentality versus Empathy
affected or extravagant emotion, sentimentality is. It’s unearned sappiness. The situation feels less than true.
Empathy is the evoking of identification with your character by the reader because the situation feels true. Often revealing motivation will assist with this process.
To keep things dramatic you must make you reader believe in the logic of the characters and what is happening while concealing the machinations of the plot which might hinder belief. The logic should be easy to spot in hindsight but blend seamless in the first reading.
Novels are more likely to fail for being too polite, too proper, too reasonable, than too over the top. Invest your energy, passion, and time in your novel.