No More Drama! (Except a little bit)

(Evidence of our girly life)
My poor husband...he's definitely the minority in our house, being the only one residing here who can lay claim to a Y chromosome. But he manages quite well. Recently he instituted a household mantra that seems to be helping: "No More Drama!"
75% of the time, chanting this will get the girls giggling, making them forget whatever petty molehill they had just turned into Mount Vesuvius. The other 25%...well, Mark and I can only smile at each other and think, "Yes...3 girls. At least they're not 3 teenage girls yet."
Anyway, this is really about writing, I promise. :) Because if there is one thing I have a hard time balancing in my own writing, it is drama and melodrama. "We all know" drama = good and melodrama = bad...but where do you draw the line? And what about the fact that certain characters are naturally melodramatic? (Anne Shirley) And some are so stoic (um...can't think of an example off the top of my head...) that even average drama seems like too much?
I guess the answer is that the line is a very fuzzy, twisty, spirally one. It's going to change for every book and character you write. Personally, I naturally lean toward melodrama in my writing. Remember Anne Shirley's writing club, and all those tragic deaths? The scary thing is, when I sit down to write, my brain still jumps to such situations before I stop and think. As I remember it, about half the critiques of my first manuscript were suggestions to tone down the drama, make things more believable, less purply-prosy, and so on. So on my second novel I did a 180. I banished the words "feel" and "love." And a lot of the earliest critiques amounted to, "I think this needs a little more emotion."
After trying to revise that second ms, I found my solution (at least for now). Because it's a lot harder to add emotion than to tone it down. I may be able to decide off the bat that the tragic death is not the best way to infuse the middle of my book with drama, but I also don't decide to make my characters heartless automatons. I let them love and emote and dream...and, yes, I have to cut 50% of that out during the revision process, but that's what revision's for.
Of course it's still a struggle--so I'd love to know any tips you have!
On another note, thank you all for your prayers for my family last week. My nephew made it home for Christmas and is more or less back to his happy, smiling self. We're so grateful for all the prayers and good wishes that pulled us through a difficult time. I hope your Christmases were lovely and that the rest of the Christmas season holds many joys and blessings!


  1. Hahaha ... in real life I can't stand drama and my husband came up with: save the drama for your mama. And I basically said, NO WAY. Save the drama for your grandmama (who has greater patience). Sometimes we say: save the drama for Obama.

    Having been raised on Indian movies, melodrama is in my blood. I tend to have Dickensonion flavor (sir, I have a bad heart -- is a line from one of my first short stories that I penned), so I try to tone it down a bit.

  2. I'm so glad the "difficulties" passed. I'm also grateful for prayers also in my family's behalf. Like you, I know they work.

    As for melodrama - I did it when I was young, much younger than I am today! I think it takes time and life to be able to see how to get emotion into the story without falling into melodrama. It has helped me to read, read, read the masters who do it so well.

    I, too, wish you seasonal blessings - and those blessings to continue throughout the New Year!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  3. I'm so glad your nephew is better!

    I need to try that "No More Drama" - I have 3 girls, too. Lots of drama here,especially from the middle child:)

  4. Yes! It's definitely a fuzzy, twisty, spirally line! Idk about tips, other than many rereads through the ms, making tweaks, until it feels just right. :) Vague, I know.

  5. This is a toughie!I'm not a prefect writer but one thought comes to mind - put yourself inside your characters shoes and act how they would act. the you will what the best thing is that you can do to give them those ups and downs. That probably didn't help, but I thought I'd try. Keep on going! :)


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