1. a composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character, especially one intended to be acted on the stage; a play.
2. the branch of literature having such compositions as its subject; dramatic art or representation.
3. the art dealing with the writing and production of plays.
4. any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results: the drama of a murder trial.
5. the quality of being dramatic.
Let’s face it, there are some people who lead lives that seem utterly tragic. They have more problems (translate=drama) than they can seem to keep track of and every time you speak with them, there’s a new issue popping up. Most of the time, you feel sorry for them, shaking your head out of empathy for their woes even when sometimes just from listening, you can pick up what they might have done to bring this crap upon themselves. Admit it; you know who I’m talking about. But still, even when you know they might have been the culprit, you pity them. Why is it that some people attract all the drama in their lives?
When creating characters, I think it’s important to give the person a healthy amount of drama to overcome. The reality, is that if you are to create someone who is real, even in fiction, drama must exist. How many people do you know exist without drama tainting their lives? I know people who say they don’t “do” drama. Sure you don’t. I don’t “do” drama either but drama will happen whether you try to do it or not. We are human and our interactions with one another will produce some sort of conflict after a while, ultimately shifting our emotions and interests. In a nutshell-you’d have to be dead to avoid having drama and let’s be honest-drama is what makes the story/plot interesting. With that said, there can be an unhealthy amount of drama for anyone. And as I’ve already pointed out, there are people you know that stay embroiled in it. But when you are writing fictional characters that you want to portray as real, how much drama is too much for your reader?
In the romance genre specifically, the drama-balance game can be tough. Too little can make you wonder if these people are living at all; they can’t be so into each other that the outside world doesn’t exist. Too much, and you wonder how they manage to still breathe or more importantly, how they have found the time to fall in love at all. I just read a book that made me want to weep because the heroine was just that overcome with problems. Drama was hitting her every which way to the point, I couldn’t understand how she’d even had a leg to stand on. People are strong and resilient, yes, but in 220 pages you are telling me that she got up on her two feet amidst extreme turmoil, met a man she couldn’t trust, trusted him and then fell in love? I mean, all of a sudden, he showed up and the sun is shining and all her problems have rolled away? I’m not quick to buy it, even with great writing and as much as I love the fairytale, I want my fairytale to be one I can believe would happen to me. Not only that, happiness is what I go to romance for and I assume you do too. Her story was…tragic until the VERY end(sigh).
So as I continue to write, I’m trying to remain cognizant of not placing too many hardships on my characters. They need to time to breathe and to fall in love and despite how real I want them to be…I don’t want them to have 99 problems. Do you think about whether you’ve placed too much on a characters’ shoulders and what do you do to work that out?