Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Quarrels and High Emotions

Stories without changes in emotion really feel bland and monotonous when you're forced to read through it.

And nothing spices up reading like a scene with tension and high emotions between characters. It just makes things more interesting.

BUT if done wrong, a tense scene can really annoy the reader.

The best way to create a tense scene the wrong way: contriving the tension. If the characters are screaming/punching each other for a stupid reason, the reader will not be amused. There's one good way to describe a scene like that: Melodramatic. Another way to describe it: a terrible waste of perfectly good paper and ink.

So if you read through your work and find that the characters' reactions are out of proportion to what they should be, it's time to tone it down.

Look Out for These:

1) Arguments about something insignificant, that amounts to the main conflict of the story.

2) Reactions out of proportion to what it should be.

3) Characters arguing with each other when everything points to the fact that they should get along. EXCEPT if there's a good reason.

How do you catch melodramatic moments?


  1. If my characters are doing something that annoys me it's probably because they are being melodramatic or doing something that would annoy the reader, that's a good list though.

  2. For me, I catch melodramatic moments when there are too many exclamation marks, too much swearing, or too many theatrical gestures in a passage. Then again, sometimes people who are melodramatic do actually behave this way and those things could possibly be used as character markers.

  3. I like to keep my eye out for reactions that are too direct to avoid melodrama. Sometimes unspoken tension is more genuine.

  4. "a terrible waste of perfectly good paper and ink." that made me laugh. :)

    I usually try to understate my melodramatic moments, with the minimum description.

  5. Melodrama annoys me in books and movies so I try to keep tension real.

  6. Great points! Q for quarrel was inventive. Bonne chance A to Z-ing!

  7. I noticed a lot of this recently while rereading a book that I liked just fine the first time around. Maybe I'm becoming more sensitive to contrived conflict...

  8. But, on the other hand, writing a melodramtic character can be great fun, if you counter it with more tempered reactions from the other characters :-)

  9. Oh, yeah! I see this on TV all the time. Arguments that don't make sense for the situations the characters are in. Silly writers!

  10. I write YA, so there is a certain amount of melodrama. (After having several teen foster kids in our house, good God it's all about the drama!) Just have to make it realistic and reasonable. And not what fuels the story.

  11. You are offering some tremendous tips through the A to Z Challenge, Misha. I lead a weekly writers' group and these posts would make a great basis for our writing lesson times. I am definitely going to be following your blog. Thanks for posting.

  12. The baby looks damn cute in this expression... lolz


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