Monday, July 26, 2010

Drama, Melodrama, and Soaps

Good drama is based on interconnections, which is another word for relationships.

Soap Operas draw them with big fat crayons and oversized Sharpies in neon colors.  This is the reason we can all get hooked into them but also feel at least a mild contempt for them, if not outright allergic detestation; they're blatantly manipulative of our vulnerability to relationship shifts.

It borders on cheating; in the worst of them it IS cheating.  It parallels taking a sledgehammer to a kitten or feeding a puppy into a meat grinder.  It is guaranteed to make us react, and everyone knows it's a cheap shot.  

This is melodrama, the cartoon of the dramatic world. Actual drama is more refined in many ways.

More refined drama addresses both more serious relationship subtleties and deeper emotional scars. It also factors in ethical considerations and other real world expansions of personal problems.

The best drama enhances real life. It shows recognized individuals, not types, engaged in situations we can relate to, doing things to cope we have all done in one way or another, and it also reveals the complexities and subtle shadings involved in the process of living life with others.

Next time you write a story, figure out if it's melodrama or drama and adjust accordingly. It will strengthen your fiction no end to be aware of these things.

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