“It’s hard enough to write a good drama, it’s much harder to write a good comedy, and it’s hardest of all to write a drama with comedy. Which is what life is.” – Jack Lemmon
To most people, the life of a stay-at-home mom is severely lacking in drama. Even I tend to consider it fairly mundane. However, lately I’ve noticed a great deal of drama, and I’d like to discuss it while somehow working in my introduction.
A quick background check on Nola Redd will find that I am a stay-at-home mom of three kids (ages five, three, and one and a half). I graduated from college in Atlanta, Georgia with a Bachelor’s in both Creative Writing and Astrophysics. Like many other freelancer writers, writing has always been a lifelong dream of mine.
While many folks here share some similarities, no two lives are alike. What makes us different, even those in similar situations, are the daily dramas we go through. Those same moments can be easily incorporated into our writing.
Look around you. What has happened to you today, or this week, that could be the basis of a story? How many small things can you build to one large, cumulative point?
For me, it was a shower. After an eight hour drive (with three kids, remember) to a family reunion where I didn’t feel welcome, all I wanted one night was a nice, hot shower. So many little things went wrong over the course of the day that a broken showerhead was the “kicker”; the moment where I made my dramatic stand, so to speak. Though the struggle may not become an epic tale, it can still make for an interesting story.
I’ve noticed this happening in various books I’ve been reading lately. One book* had a protagonist who found out, after a ten hour flight from Taiwan (hence severe jet lag), that her previous landlord had filed charges against her because the moving company she hired stole not only all the protagonist’s belongings, but also the appliances in the apartment she Dramacool was renting. As she wandered around in a daze, a police officer mistook her jet lag for drunkeness and reached out to help her. She wound up slugging him with handbag and going to jail for assualting an officer. In another book**, the protagonist sums it up nicely when she says, “It all seemed so innocent: a trip to the soda fountain, a chance talk with Amy. And then it all turned around and bit her.” In short, three simple things turned into one complex mess.
So it is with our writing. Rather than just slamming the reader in the face with one large problem, consider breaking it down into “mini-dramas” and build the tension gradually. Of course, this is more difficult in a short story than a novel; we don’t want our readers to think “get it over with, already.” So make sure the tension is realistic, and try to use only one or two instances to build up, rather than three or four.
In the meantime, think about those little problems in your life and how they seem to grow. Add one or two to your writing to increase the stress the main character is under. No matter how mundane your life is, somewhere in your daily grind is drama.