Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blog Chain - Draaaaaama


This round's topic was chosen by the ever fabulous Christine. She would like to know:

How do you create a wonderfully dramatic story? Are there any questions you ask yourself, or specific things you keep in mind to ensure that you have the level of tension necessary to propel the story forward?

You know, the first thing that came to mind when I read this question was something I learned from someone in this chain a while back (and I apologize because I can't remember for the life of me who brought this up, but it turned into an awesome discussion - I am pretty sure it was in the chain about the mean things we do to our characters :D ).

Anyways, the thing I took away from that discussion that I try to use as I write my stories in order to create drama and tension is - whatever your character wants, say no. 

I think that simple phrase is incredible. SAY NO!


They have a dream, a goal, a desire, a need? Take it away. Play hard to get. Make them work for it. Make them suffer. Make them grow and stretch themselves. Challenge them. Don't give in. Don't make it easy. SAY NO!!!! 


If you do this, then the journey toward the end of the story is full of drama and tension. If everything is easy for your character, just handed to them, there isn't any drama in the story. This is something I sometimes struggle with, especially in my lastest book (we won't go there - that one is sitting for a while so I can play with something new for NaNo :D ) But it is something I try to do in all my stories. 

Just say no. Simple. Sweet. Drama inducing. Tension maker. Just say no.


The wonderful Bonny answered this question before me, so be sure to go back and get her view on this if you missed it, and the awesome Shaun is up next so head over to his blog for his thoughts!

13 comments:

Cole Gibsen said...

Great post, Michelle!

Jen Chandler said...

Excellent idea! Tell my characters no. As if they needed any other reason to throw a fit :)

Eric said...

Hmmm, I never thought of things in this way. This is a really great idea, Michelle. Thanks.

Bethany Wiggins said...

The more character bending, stretching and torturing, the better. It makes for a great plot.

Scott said...

Thanks for the nifty trick. I'm going home tonight and telling all my characters no and trashing their dreams while I'm at it! Nothing like some good angst to propel a story forward. : )

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Awesome, Michelle. What a great way to think about that. And you're totally right, too.

ElanaJ said...

So true. I like to get my characters really really close to what they want and then yank it away.

B.J. Anderson said...

I'm sure your book is great! I'm getting ready to read it, and I'm really excited. :D Great post.

Amy Tate said...

Absolutely! If you give it to them, there's no story.

Sandra said...

I thought I commented yesterday, but it looks as if it didn't go through.

Your approach reminds me of Jack Bickman's book called Scene and Structure. In there, he also talks about saying no to characters. I also like the "Yes, But..." approach, where you make the character work even harder to get what he or she wants.

Kat Harris said...

That sounds suspiciously like something JC Lamont told me, and I think she was quoting "Manuscript Makeover" by Elizabeth Lyon.

Good stuff.

Thwart those goals!

Mandy said...

I'm going to call your technique the Dangling Carrot Method To Creating Drama! Keep those goals just out of reach. Great post!

Sarah Bromley said...

Great post, and taking away the characters' goals and dreams is definitely a surefire way to get some drama going.