Writing Fiction? How to Keep the Drama Flowing

Colorado Creet
Photo by Gayle Martin

As you fiction writers no doubt know, your plot lines revolve around tension and conflict, regardless of the genre. The conflict is what keeps the drama flowing and keeps your readers involved with your story.

I can still recall my old high school drama teacher talking to us about soap operas. She said soap operas were really nothing more than stories about real life–exaggerated. Those soap opera writers must be doing something right, since all of the soaps on the air today have been around for a good thirty-to-forty years, if not longer. The following are but a few examples of real-life exaggerations to keep the drama flowing. They must work, as they’ve been using them on soap operas for decades.

In real life people catch colds or the flu. In a soap opera a character catches a rare, if not unknown disease, resulting in blindness, deafness, coma, paralysis, or memory loss until some doctor, typically a young intern, discovers the miracle cure.

In real life family members have arguments. Someone may end up storming off afterwards, but before long everyone makes up. In a soap opera the person who storms off ends up seriously injured in a car crash and remains in a coma for weeks.

In real life boy meets girl. They’re attracted to one another so they start dating. In a soap opera boy meets girl, they’re attracted to one another, but then another lady, typically his ex, her best friend, or even her sister, is also attracted to the same guy, and she does everything humanly possible to thwart the relationship.

In real life a boy may ask a girl out, but she’s not interested so she says no. He may ask her a few more times before he gets the hint and moves on. In a soap opera he turns into a stalker and kidnaps her. She ends up being held captive for weeks in some remote cabin out in the middle of the woods that no one can ever find.

As these examples demonstrate, fiction writing is all about considering the possibilities outside the normal routine of everyday life, while maintaining enough of that normalcy to make your story believable.