No one likes a drama queen. We all have ‘em in our lives — that person who’s forever casting tiny things as great big problems, and getting everyone riled up over what turns out to be a bucket of nothing. They can be fun to watch for a bit, but they’re ultimately exhausting. It doesn’t take long to realize that those “great big problems” of theirs have no real consequence, which means that they aren’t problems at all.
Real drama is something else altogether. And – here’s the surprising thing – real drama very often has little to do with big, externally dramatic events – real or imagined. Real drama is internal, and that is the kind of drama that stories are about.
Think of real drama as the internal struggle that the plot catapults your protagonist into, forcing her to take action whether she wants to or not. If taking that action doesn’t cost your protagonist dearly on a deep emotional level, then it’s not a problem. Nor is it a story. Even if, on the surface, something big happens.
For instance, your protagonist might expect a completely normal day, and instead meets the love of her life at the bus stop, forever changing the course of her life in every way. Sounds huge, doesn’t it? But unless it mucks up something just as important to her, or unless there’s something she now has to overcome in order commit to her new found beloved, who cares? There’s a reason why stories never begin with “and they lived happily ever after.” Without internal conflict – without something crucial at stake — we not only can’t learn anything from her, we’re not really interested.
It’s a simple equation: [Read more…]