11.40: Elemental Drama

The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them.

This is a narrow definition of the word, but it’s a very useful way to look at books where the character journey is what has us turning pages. We talk about the tools we use to write these stories, and what kinds of things might trip us up.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Let’s foreshadow the failure state: look at something you’ve recently written, and then go back and insert a character who represents the failure state that your protagonist must avoid.

Ink and Ashes, by  Valynne E. Maetani

4 thoughts on “11.40: Elemental Drama”

  1. So the prequels are a Drama. you must argue that over the entire saga Darth Vader is more that just the failure state to luke. Anakin transforms into Darth Vader. this transformation reshapes the galaxy he lives in.
    the prequels must be the descend into madness verity. where the original trilogy was a coming of age story.
    Did the prequels fail (in some ways) because we did not emphasize enough with Anakin?

    1. I don’t think that any one thing can be pointed at as the reason the prequels had problems. But from the perspective of elemental drama, I would say that they used the entire first movie as the establishing shot, showing who Anakin is before his descent. And as the authorlords said, that is entirely too much time to spend before you start progressing the character.

      1. Oh, I in no way meant to point it on this one thing. but was it a factor?

        I mean George Lucas is not a great writer. (love him for the Idea, happy it’s in Disneys hands now). nor a great director, I mean empire is considered the best and it’s the only one not directed by him before it went to Disney.
        and there is Jar Jar, midichiolrians, etc.
        it’s not the one thing but I can stomach Revenge of the Sith. I feel the drama plays out better there compared to the other prequels but still not great. I am not connecting to Anakin at although the story revolves around him. obi wan is the interesting character.

  2. As the character turns… we have a transformation, a change, something different! Just think, even without a burning bush, people can change! Growing up, going crazy, all kinds of twists and turns that we live through. That’s the kind of genre that the foolish foursome tackle this month, drama (although it may not be your teacher’s drama, or the drama that you find on your stage, still, it’s drama enough for now). And, there’s a transcript in the archives or over here


    if you want to feast your eyes on it! Go ahead, get dramatic!

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