How to Write Drama
- Start with characters. The best dramas are usually character-driven. They have a cast of main characters (usually fewer than 10), plus a handful of supporting characters. These characters should all be very distinct from one another, and the main characters should be authentic and life-like. This way, the audience can relate to them and cares what happens to them.
- Introduce conflict. All stories revolve around conflict, and this is especially true in drama. The conflict could be anything – the simplest example is political conflict or war, but you might also have competing love interests, clashes in personality, or simply a struggle against misfortune.
- Don’t forget about comic relief. Unless you’re writing a tragedy (see section 6), there should be at least some amount of humor in your drama. Otherwise, the negative emotions will get overwhelming and the experience will be too unpleasant for the reader. Give a few funny lines to your characters, or add an amusing situation somewhere to cut the tension – just make sure that this comic relief arises naturally from the story and it doesn’t feel like you’re cramming it in.
When to Use Drama
Drama is great for a creative writing project. It offers opportunities to work on character development, story structure, and a whole other set of writing skills. Every once in a while, you may also find a place for drama in formal essays, but you have to be careful.
For example, history essays are often more enjoyable to read if you craft them with a “dramatic” eye – focusing on a small set of main characters, contrasting these characters and their various desires, and fully describing the conflict at the center of the story. These techniques, in combination with good research and persuasive logic, can turn a good essay into a great one. However, you do have to be careful – too much drama in a formal essay can start to seem distracting, and you don’t want to give the impression that you’re more committed to the entertainment value than to the research and analysis.