Against All Odds / Crossroads / Guest blogs and bloggers / writing

How to Add Drama to your Writing

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds August 2020. In case you missed it there, here’s a reprint (I’ve made a few updates):


Sometimes I read my WIP and even I get bored. Where’s all the excitement I stuffed into the plot, wrote and rewrote, thought was perfect? Excitement may be difficult to define but I know it when I read it. I ain’t reading it here.

If you have that problem, here are some suggestions from efriend writers:

  • Look at your scenes. Is the drama predictable, or unbelievable? Is it a bridge too far or a euphemism too short? Or something else?
  • A football fan friend of mine who’s also a writer explained what you want out of drama: Let’s say it’s the end of the season, and Notre Dame’s playoff hopes rest upon Penn State winning their final game (and they’re 0-11) — nothing else could help the Irish get in, no other combination of wins or losses, plane crashes, plague outbreaks, anything. I still want Penn State to lose. (Not intended to trigger Notre Dame or Penn State fans–just fun)
  • If your drama is around romance, you need to make someone love the other like the devil loves sin.
  • One friend says she throws in a fight when the plot bogs down.
  • Leave more to the imagination. Don’t connect all the dots. Let the reader ponder over them.
  • If you can’t get the drama to ratchet up, work on your characters. Daniel Silva is one of my favorite thriller writers. Here’s what he said about creating characters that are as interesting as the plot:

“Boswell … was one of those Americans who formed their impressions of life in the United Kingdom by watching reruns of Masterpiece Theater.”

I feel like I know Boswell now.

  • Writers Relief says this about the juxtaposition of characters and drama: “Amp up your character’s desires.”
  • Build a character who lives by rules and then have him break one every time things slow down.
  • If you can’t get your readers to gasp with horror, at least let them chuckle. Add humor.

If you need help with drama, check below under More for websites that look pretty good.

#amwriting #IndieAuthor


5 Ways to Create Conflict

How to Create Tension

How to Create Dramatic Characters

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.


70 thoughts on “How to Add Drama to your Writing

  1. My Aussie roots are showing because I don’t understand the footy example at all (why wouldn’t you want Penn to win so you could make the playoffs?), but otherwise some great points 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehee! Some people ‘hate’ PSU that much that they root for anyone playing against them. All in the fun of sports. I’m a ND fan and pretty much root for anyone playing against USC.

      Sorry, USC fans! You know what I mean and I bet you feel the same way about ND.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find readers are much more critical these days. A few years ago, you could add a car chase, or flood, or even chased by a pterodactyl to your story for added drama, and now, the reader says “Meh, I’ve read better.”
    It’s disheartening, to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great list, Jacqui. Once you get the hang of it, it gets easier (I think) to ratchet up the drama. I love high stakes and throwing all kinds of external and internal obstacles in the way. Thanks for the reminders of some of the tricks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Early in my writing journey, I came to understand actions require reactions in stories. So there’s the little break but then, you go back to action. One expert (Marshall) even laid out how that worked, how often, which characters. It was pretty interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love getting lost in a well written drama with flawed and conflicted characters. Makes me want to turn the page to see what happens next.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dear Jacqui,
    those tips surely help everybody starting to write fiction. Another equally important level would be to reflect the language you use, the flow of words, their rhythm and sound, how you use metaphores, avoid pleonasm etc.
    Thanks for sharing. Wishing you a happy day
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • That ‘flow of words’ thing–I can feel that when my writing misses the mark, and it’s usually the ‘flow of words, rhythm and sound’. There’s a beauty and peace to doing that right.

      Thanks for visiting! Waiting for your next glorious post…


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