Drama. It’s what life is made of. It’s the ins and outs of everyday life. And as in real life, drama can be found in Westerns, Mysteries, Thrillers, Romance, and all other kinds of fiction. Part of our current language is the use of the word ‘drama’ to describe reactions to events. We hear about Drama Queens, and people who just can’t handle all that ‘drama.’
But without drama, there is no life. Drama is about the aches and pains, the growing, the fighting, the search for self, the search for peace. Authors and most people in the business might call it goal, motivation and conflict. Whole books have been dedicated to teaching us how to make sure our writing feels like real life. It’s a writer’s job to evoke emotions from readers, to make them sympathetic to, or afraid of, our characters and their situations.
My favorite kind of drama is psychological drama, which is defined as what goes on in our heads, how we think and feel about what’s happening. And my favorite characters to write are the ones with psychological problems. Those who were molested, beaten, raped, or killed, and those who molest, beat, rape and kill. I like to write about people who are very flawed, who are damaged. My readers want to know what makes ‘those’ people tick, what drama they have gone through. What do they think and feel? What can they possibly tell themselves that makes it okay to hurt others? Do they understand the consequences of their actions? Or do they just not care?
I watched a child molester as he passed by a very young girl, maybe six or seven years old. She wore a bikini. He leered at her and said, “She knows exactly what she’s doing, shaking her butt and prissing around.” I’ve never forgotten that. He was of the firm belief that all females knew the power they held over men, and used it. He really believed that little girl was teasing him, though it was obvious that she was totally unaware of his presence. If you are a reader of my fiction, you will no doubt run into this character someday.
But characters don’t have to be that sick, to evoke a response from readers. If you’re an author, remember the flaws, the parts of real people that we sometimes detest, as well as the parts of them that we feel great compassion for. Use drama in your writing to bring the reader into the story, their emotions rising and falling as they get to know your characters. Readers love all that drama.