What is Dramatic Storytelling?
This type of storytelling can be used in both fiction and non-fiction. In this series of articles we’ll talk about how you tell a story and how you refine your stream of consciousness writing into a workable dramatic story. The keys to dramatic storytelling that we will discuss are Drama, Conflict, and Suspense.
Drama makes a story interesting. It’s taking the facts and then making them live. Whether fiction or nonfiction you are taking the facts and making them live. In fiction those facts may be imagined but you’re still taking those facts and making them live. Drama is what heightens the interest and charges the atmosphere of the writing. The more you make the drama increase, the more you increase the suspense and uncertainty. Drama must be portrayed if action and suspense are going to be part of the story. You can’t have action and suspense without drama.
Before you can have drama you have to have conflict. That’s the essence of storytelling. It contains someone or something struggling with someone or something and the outcome is in doubt until the end. Conflict is the key in all forms of story writing. Conflict means drama. So for a good story to emerge the conflict has to be really clear. Who or what is pitted against who or what. Not only are we looking at who is the conflict between but we also have to understand the consequence of that conflict.
The conflict can be external conflict. It can be between people or people and an animal or people and the environment or it can be an internal conflict that a person has something happening on the inside. Something is missing from their life. You can have both an external and internal conflict. You can have layers of conflict going on through the book, but there must be at least one layer of conflict.
Suspense means uncertainty. So you’re building that uncertainty into the conflict to create the suspense to carry the reader forward because the reader wants to know more. Action and suspense are two forms of drama. When we write something that has action, something is being done mentally or physically. And then a suspense scene is a buildup of that uncertainty, which is keeping the reader guessing.
Conflict creates drama and that establishes the focus of the action of the suspense to follow.
When we’re portraying an event, something that’s going to break up the tone of the writing, you want to jar the readers complacency, that’s what dramatic impact is – take the reader out of their comfort and make them think about something, whether it’s through action or suspense.
In non-fiction you want to bring them into your story so that they are really standing in your story. They’ve lost themselves in the story – they’re in it. They experience what it is you’re trying to convey. Sometimes it’s to help them transform or to have an Aha moment. Whatever that reason is, they are looking for clues that are going to reveal something about themselves so they can become involved in that story.
Now that we’ve captured the reader’s attention, we want to keep it. Again, the confrontation or struggle is what keeps the reader engaged. The best way to gain the reader’s attention is to offer the reader a chance to root for one of the characters in the story. Let the reader take sides. You want that confrontation to be vivid enough to provide the reader a chance to jump in and root for someone. Those are the types of things that hook the reader. It may be that someone starts reading and they identify with a character, they are like that character and they want to root for that character no matter what. Or it could be that the bad guy is the one they want to root for. It just depends on how you want to build the character.
One of the things that you can do that really draws that reader in is to lay the theme in terms of the emotion. What are the emotions of the character or characters? Once you describe that, then the reader is going to feel them. The stronger the emotion the more the reader is going to jump in. If you try to present a conflict without trying to present the emotion, you’re missing a critical aspect of that story. That’s what’s going to build and maintain that drama.
Writers expect readers to stay glued to their story, and at the same time readers expect writers to create a story that keeps them engaged. So there’s a partnership going on between the two. In best-selling books the writers have successfully connected with the audience in a way that the partnership has been met.
Readers look for books for a couple of reasons. They seek them out for enlightenment or intellectual give and take. They are looking for things, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, that stimulate their intelligence and or is enlightening to them. But above all they want a story that takes them out of their own reality. That’s what you’re doing with dramatic storytelling.
Taken from our Inspired Tuesdays Tip Podcast which can be found in our Inspired Mindset Mobile App. Click here to download.