1. melissa_m

    melissa_m New Member

    Jul 29, 2013
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    Brooklyn, NY

    Dealing With Drama

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by melissa_m, Aug 9, 2013.

    Hello! This is my first post here. :) I know that I should have gone and introduced myself first, but I have a very pressing question! So I would love to hear your opinion first.

    I'm currently working on a novel (a dystopian love story), and I'm about 60,000 words in. So far, I haven't separated it into chapters, I simply have documents entitled "part 1", "part 2", and "final chapter".

    I usually don't like to look back over my work before I'm finished, but today I reread part 1 just for kicks. As I did so, I realized how incredibly dramatic and TENSE every scene seems to be. I've been trying to use tension to keep readers interested, but now I'm worried that it's just all a bit too soap opera-esque. Everyone is very depressed and angry at each other MOST of the time, and there's a lot of introspective reflection. So my question is: How do you distribute tension so that readers will stay interested, without overdoing it?

    I should also say that my book is supposed to be serious - it's a dystopia, after all. But shouldn't there still be scenes that are a bit more laid-back? If so, where do you think they should go?

    Thank you!

    - Melissa
  2. Ann-Russell

    Ann-Russell Member

    Jun 25, 2013
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    The above is a link to a series of videos recorded at a panel from Life, the Universe and Everything from last year about engaging the reader. In one part (sorry I can't remember which video, but they're all pretty good) the panel discusses the "slow moments" in the story.

    While tension is always a good thing, having moments of lesser tension gives your readers a little bit to breathe and process the story. I think if you try to make the tension follow more of a roller-coaster pattern (with peaks and valleys) where the tension/action is ratcheted up and then released a little bit only to be increased again, it will give your readers a more thrilling ride in the long- run. When the lulls hit, it allows them to prepare for the next round.

    Of course, this does not mean you make the slower moments boring (a fact that the panel touches on in the videos). They also said something I thought was pretty good advise, something along the lines of: "Treat the slow spots as valuable, because you only get a few." Pass on vital information that doesn't fit somewhere else, or foreshadow a future event, etc.

    Hope this was helpful!
  3. Kammygirl

    Kammygirl New Member

    Feb 23, 2013
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    You could try splitting the tension up with what I call "reflection intermission". For me this is where I'll have a character reflect on the things that are happening to them. Where the characters ask questions that the reader themselves may be asking. Sometimes this doesn't work depending on what you're writing. But in a dystopian love story I think this would help.
  4. Gallowglass

    Gallowglass Contributor Contributor

    May 2, 2009
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    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    My book is pretty drama-heavy, so every so often I'll give a few of the characters some 'downtime' where they get on with less dramatic stuff. One major example is a scene where they find a CD that reminds them of life before the war and put it on, reliving happy memories and telling stories. It comes right after they discover their leader's a double agent and right before the descent into the invasion that turns out to be the climax of the book.

    It usually helps to have a less dramatic sub-plot going on (a light-hearted romance, for example), or a character that's there for comic relief (think the Weasley twins in Harry Potter). That way, these scenes don't stand out: they're meant to loosen the coils, not break the immersion. Ultimately, you still need to fill the downtime with something entertaining and interesting, even if it's not as tense.

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