Which dramatic device should I use and when should I use it?
As a young writer I found myself asking this question a lot.
That’s because there are any number of ways you can portray something in creative writing.
Let’s Look At A Few Examples
A third person point of view might be better for your novel than first person.
This is because you want to portray more than a first person observer is capable of portraying.
But, hmmm…you still want the psychic closeness you have with the first person.
OK, then. Use the third person omniscient to portray the thoughts of characters. You may also want to tell a first person reported story within the story.
Or Maybe It’s A Question Of Dialogue
You could portray the conversation as actually happening.
“Hey, you want to go to the store”?
“No thanks, I’ve got stuff to do”.
Or you could portray it in what is referred to as reported dialogue.
Todd asked Bill if he wanted to go to the store but Bill said he was too busy.
Reporting the dialogue will save you time and space. It will also enable you to maintain the focus of the scene.
It can even help create suspense, confusion and mystery.
Perhaps Todd tells the police that Bill didn’t want to go to the store because he was too busy. But, perhaps we find out later that Todd was lying. Hmm?
There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat
There are many different dramatic devices you can use to portray each aspect of your novel. It isn’t always easy to know which one to use.
This is why rewriting and revision are so important. You may not know which one to use until your third of fourth draft.
Don’t feel bad, this is natural.
If you feel like you don’t know what you are doing, it’s all right. That’s what it’s supposed to feel like as you figure things out along the way.
A Rule Of Thumb
When trying to figure which dramatic device to use, always start with the end in mind. Then work backward.
What is it you want to achieve?
Once you have an idea of your plot it may take you a few drafts to understand which point of view is the best.
It’s important to understand that you won’t know these things magically before you start.
And let’s not forget characters.
They may come and go like friends in your life. The important thing to understand is that they’ve got a job to do.
If you have a character who is mean enough to steal candy from a child. Then conjure up a kid with a lollipop for him to steal.
If a secret mission is really dangerous. Then conjure up a side kick who dies at the beginning. The reader will know that the main character is playing for keeps now.
I Can’t Eat Another Bite!
I’ve just put a lot to think about on your plate.
You may start to feel overwhelmed. That’s understandable. You don’t have to digest all this at once.
With each new draft of your novel you will learn how the story needs to be told and which dramatic device to use.
Take your time, enjoy yourself.