As a content editor one of my responsibilities is to determine when conflict crosses the line into unnecessary drama that dilutes the story.
Conflict is necessary in order to support the central theme of the story and to keep the reader engaged. However, authors can unknowingly cross into the danger zone, when drama becomes the constant that: 1) Does not move the story along; 2) Occurs with no feasible reason (just there for the ‘drama factor’; and 3) Occurs so often that if it is removed, there is no real story.
The fiction author’s job is to engage, inform and entertain their reader. Pacing is the key in order to maintain interest. Fleshing out the characters and the feasibility of the plot is equally important. In doing so you should be moved, at the least, to research the character’s: 1) Strength and weaknesses; 2) Temperament; 3) Habits (good and bad) and 4) Worldview.
Armed with this information you apply it to the central theme. Ask yourself how these characters effectively fit into that theme and how do you keep them true to who you have built them to be. Build on the conflict that comes with working through the plot in your mind, on paper and with others. In doing so it will give you a clear view of how to arrive at your destination.
Please note, you DO want to engage the reader with some drama, but not so much that it overshadows the intent of the story. Below are two examples of works with drama. You determine which is feasible.
Example: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Something from one or the others’ past comes to light. Couple separates. In the interim scenarios or someone or both strives to keep them apart. They overcome obstacles and learn from whatever it is the book was set up for them to achieve.
Example Two: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Something from their past comes to light. Couple separate. Everything under the sun from, high-speed car chases, fist fights, a carjacking, baby mama drama and two or three added lovers, make their way onto the pages. Add to that an ending that ties up no loose ends and/or makes any sense and you have the too much drama factor.
Now before you ask the question allow me to answer it. You can have a fair amount if not all of the elements above incorporated into your story and still make it a winner. It’s all in the presentation. Think through how this could possibly happen without using vague, non-supportive reasoning to justify the ending and leave the reader scratching their heads.
I hope this has been helpful to you all. I’m looking forward to discussing and hearing your views. So as always, until next time – Use your words to bear good fruit.