Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blog Chain: Drama Queen

Christine started this round, and she cranked up the drama factor:

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 propell the story forward?

I think that I have a tendency to go beyond a dramatic story and hop the border into melodramatic. As I've said many times, I consider myself a bit of a drama queen, so it isn't very hard for me to dream up some pretty hard-core drama. In fact, I find myself deleting entire scenes for that exact reason. Nobody needs THAT much excitement. ;)

In an earlier blog chain post, I wrote about my characters' journeys and their transformations. I love to use external and physical change, and for me, drama equals action. Aside from being a drama queen, I am an action queen. (is that a real term?) I LOVE anything with gun fights, sword play, the use of magic (with arms and hands flung for emphasis). Fist fights are okay too as long as my female protagonist is the one getting all the action. Emotional drama is great too, I love the occasional sob-fest. But I love the drama that comes from fighting for your life.

I think the best part about using hard-core action for drama is that the emotional stuff inevitably follows. With every near-death scrape our heroine (or hero) has someone waiting in the background, terrified that the person he cares about could leave him forever. In addition to the danger factor, there's obviously something propelling that character into these dangerous situations. I mean, no one pulls a knife on you for no reason in my imaginary worlds.

For me, the most important factor in maintaining good drama, is keeping my scenes realistic. I spend more time writing action sequences than I do anything else. I close my eyes, put myself in my character's place and draw on every good action movie, battle scene and author I've ever read. And I've been so into it lately, that I'm thinking about taking the next step: learning to fence, target shooting, taking a martial arts class. Yeah, that would be COOL.

Because I'm a strictly "from the hip" writer, I have a hard time pinpointing my dramatic moments until they actually happen. I let my characters walk me through the story, and when I know they've stuck their nose a little too far in the wrong business, I throw in some first-class danger. An ambush in a dark alley can keep me reading (or typing) into the wee hours of the morning, and I hope that by letting the action and its resulting conflict pull me along, I have succeeded in creating many exciting moments that weave themselves into a fun, entertaining, and DRAMATIC tale.

Be sure to check out Rebecca's post before mine, and Sandra's tomorrow to find out how they crank up the drama factor in their writing.


K.M. Weiland said...

Drama queen, no. But action queen - oh yeah. ;) You make an excellent point, though, about how emotional drama inevitably follows well-crafted action. If the action matters to the characters, then emotions can't help but follow.

Sandra said...

A lot of good points here! I'm also a "from the hip" writer, so it's good to hear how you bring in drama.

Cassidy "Cassy" said...

Drama queen/Action queen! Love the pic for this blog!

Mandy said...

I knew you'd like it Cassidy :D

"I know something you don't know... I am not left handed!"


Kat Harris said...

I am an action queen. (is that a real term?)

It is now!

Great post.

Rebecca Knight said...

That is so cool how you visualize the battles before you write them :). I'll have to try that!

Cole Gibsen said...

Oooh, you should definitely take martial arts. Taking tae kwon do was what inspired me to write KATANA - and talk about the health benefits - you won't find a better workout. I had to quit when I got pregnant and I keep toying with taking it up again.

B.J. Anderson said...

Great answer! And I actually do a bit of target practice myself. It's VERY fun. No fencing though; now THAT would be awesome. And holy cow, The Princess Bride. Like my favorite movie of all time. Have you read the book? It's hilarious.

Terresa said...

Drama is good. Various plot point moving the storyline forward are necessary, too.

I like action. I just read a popular YA book that everyone raved about. But I finished it wishing for more action. There wasn't enough for me. Action is a good thing, especially when it relates to the characters transformations and pulls the reader in, too.

Eric said...

Great post. I really like your process, your thoughts. And as a veteran of multiple martial arts styles, I highly recommend you take a class or two. It's a wonderful way to center yourself, and it's great exercise to boot. Plus think about all the resource material you'll have for your future characters.

christine said...

Great post Mandy!

Sarah Bromley said...

Great post and you should certainly take up a hobby just 'cause you have a character that does something like fencing. Cole took our crit partner Shawntelle and me to a firing range in the name of "research."