Okay, I got the idea to do this after reading George Polti’s historic Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. The only problem was that some of them don’t have the same dramatic affect as they may have had a hundred years ago when he wrote them. Even though we tell stories a lot like they did in ancient Greece, we don’t always have an audience that is willing to listen to a script that is designed to take days to perform. So I decided to add a few additional tension starters to his original thirty-six dramatic situations.
If you are looking for motivation for a story that you’ve been working on, here are 14 Dramatic Situations that can help make a scene, chapter, or story more interesting. I’ve got hundreds more of them, too. If you like these, subscribe. If you want more, tell me. I hope you find something useful.
But I just thought about it. Maybe some of you don’t know how to use these techniques. The first dramatic situation in this list is, “A person is caught lying in court”. How could you use this situation to develop a story? An outline? A character?
Okay, let say that you are one of those writers that likes to begin his/her stories off with a premise or maybe even a single line of dialog. Here is how you could use “A person is caught lying in court” to spice up your writing or to develop and entire story.
HARRY is a old man on the witness stand in an American court room
JANE is the young city prosecutor
JANE: Harry, where were you at 9:00 on the night John Reeves was murdered.
HARRY: At 9:00 I went down to the Magic Johnson Theater to see a movie.
JANE: Were you there at exactly 9:00? Or did you get there late?
HARRY: As a matter of fact, I got there early. I got there at exactly 8:30 pm because I wanted to get a good seat. I stayed there all night.
JANE: And what movie did you see?
Harry: I went to see the new Superman film.
JANE: And you never left the theater after 8:30 pm.
HARRY: Well, I left when the movie was over. I left around 11:30 pm.
JANE: So you were not at the local the local Wal-Mart buying garbage bags and cleaning supplies so that you could clean up all the blood that was left in your apartment after blowing John Reeve’s head off?
HARRY: No. John was my best friend. I was at the movies all night.
JANE: What would you say if I told you that we have security footage of you entering the Wal-Mart that’s near your apartment at exactly 9:00 pm on the night in question?
HARRY: I would say that you didn’t know what you were talking about. I didn’t go to no damn Wal-Mart! I was at the movies all night!
JANE: And suppose I told you that we have a credit card transaction of you making a purchase at that Wal-Mart, for cleaning supplies, garbage bags, and a mop at exactly 9:15 pm. The same credit card that police found in your wallet. The same credit card that is on all of your bank records.
HARRY: You’re lying on me. I never killed John. I loved John.
JANE: DID YOU KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND JOHN REEVES?!
HARRY: NO, I DIDN’T KILL HIM. I WANT TO GO HOME. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS ANYMORE!
JANE: YOU KILLED HIM! YOU WASHED AWAY HIS BLOOD! AND YOU THREW YOUR BEST FRIENDS BODY IN THE YELLOW-BIRD RIVER! DIDN’T YOU, HARRY?!
HARRY’S ATTORNEY: I object your honor, the prosecution is badgering the defendant.
HARRY: Okay. I did it. I killed John. I didn’t mean, too. I loved him like a brother. He was like family. I’m sorry. (sobs)
And there you have it. Drama. Tension. And it’s memorable. Something that keeps that audience reading/watching and wanting more till the very end. Below you will see several other dramatic situations that you can use to develop a story with. Have fun!
- A court room
o Someone is caught lying in court
o Someone is given an amazingly harsh sentence
o Someone admits to a crime
o Someone falls in love (while on the witness stand)
o Two council members disagree on an action to take
o A criminal is given a chance to confess for a lesser sentence but instead rejects it with an unbelievably unreasonable request.
o A leader is disrespected by a criminal and comes moments from breaking all laws to teach him a lesson, but is held back by a friend that reasons with him—but the grudge has been created.
- A prison break
- A person pulls out a gun in court
- A person shooting in a place where there are lots of innocent civilians
- Someone has to explain to an angry boss that they failed
- A fugitive escapes only to arrive in hostile territory ( escape from the kettle to the frying pan)
- A leader has to appoint a criminal to help him/her solve a crime because he is the “only person who can do the job.”
o Reward is freedom?
o They make a bargain?
***The photo above is copyrighted by the Alvin Alley Dance Theater Company.