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Drama vs. Romance

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MidwestToImpress View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 Jan 2021 at 3:17pm
Hey all!

I am working on my story, which was assigned "drama," something I have never been given in any NYC Midnight competition. I started running with a story idea that, not to give too much away, involves a character who is dealing with some deep trauma and ends up working at an event her ex is attending. The story is more about the character's trauma and current struggles with depression/coping with the death of a loved one. However, her wanting to reconnect with said ex and struggling to communicate those feelings is also a major driving element of the plot, plus I was considering having a somewhat hopeful ending in terms of their relationship.

I was feeling fairly good about this till I went back to look over the genre guide and remembered that "romance" is also a genre in these competitions (I thought only rom-com was, for some reason?) Now I'm kind of spiraling thinking I may be messing this up. I usually have been assigned fairly straightforward genres (horror, political satire, thriller and fantasy) that have pretty concrete markers and this is my first time getting assigned a story thats in a more open (at least in my opinion?) sort of genre.

I guess I'm just wondering if I am totally messing this up and need to go back to the drawing board? What makes a drama a drama? Is including elements of mental illness, loss, etc enough to make it drama? Do dramas need to end on a sad/downer note? Those of you who have written drama before, have you used romantic elements or even an happy-ish ending without a dreaded DQ or getting roasted by the judges? Cry

Sorry if these are silly questions, I'm just in the major self doubt stage of this... and usually I do FF or MF so I don't have so much time to dwell on the doubt ConfusedConfusedConfused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jennifer.quail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jan 2021 at 3:44pm
Drama is really NYCM's version of 'literary fiction.' I don't think there's any reason it has to end on a non-hopeful, downer, note even if 90% of the entries tend to go for straight-up depressing, with a parade of mental illness, death, suicide, and horribly miserable people. 

Romance meanwhile can be subtle and doesn't require a HEA ending with hearts and flowers (I did very well with a Romance that was mostly quiet drama moments and none were real downers.) But the POINT of a romance is the relationship. If your story has the ex not the focal point, and we'd be satisfied either not knowing if she decided pluck up and try to rekindle things, or if she doesn't, and we don't really feel a need to root for 'them' as a couple, I would say that's not romance. Romance is about the romance, drama is about the conflict, even if it's a conflict between the MC and themselves. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jan 2021 at 3:49pm
Originally posted by MidwestToImpress MidwestToImpress wrote:

Hey all!

I am working on my story, which was assigned "drama," something I have never been given in any NYC Midnight competition. I started running with a story idea that, not to give too much away, involves a character who is dealing with some deep trauma and ends up working at an event her ex is attending. The story is more about the character's trauma and current struggles with depression/coping with the death of a loved one. However, her wanting to reconnect with said ex and struggling to communicate those feelings is also a major driving element of the plot, plus I was considering having a somewhat hopeful ending in terms of their relationship.

I was feeling fairly good about this till I went back to look over the genre guide and remembered that "romance" is also a genre in these competitions (I thought only rom-com was, for some reason?) Now I'm kind of spiraling thinking I may be messing this up. I usually have been assigned fairly straightforward genres (horror, political satire, thriller and fantasy) that have pretty concrete markers and this is my first time getting assigned a story thats in a more open (at least in my opinion?) sort of genre.

I guess I'm just wondering if I am totally messing this up and need to go back to the drawing board? What makes a drama a drama? Is including elements of mental illness, loss, etc enough to make it drama? Do dramas need to end on a sad/downer note? Those of you who have written drama before, have you used romantic elements or even an happy-ish ending without a dreaded DQ or getting roasted by the judges? Cry

Sorry if these are silly questions, I'm just in the major self doubt stage of this... and usually I do FF or MF so I don't have so much time to dwell on the doubt ConfusedConfusedConfused


You're obsessing and getting yourself worked up for no useful reason.  Nothing wrong with romance in a drama.  Sometimes the most dramatic events end well, much to Nod's annoyance.  Sometimes the worst day ever leads to the best day imaginable.

There are no hard and fast rules for this.  One of the biggest mistakes I made was using the genre definitions to contort the story to fit a perception of the guidelines. 

The most important thing you can do is FORGET ABOUT THE JUDGES!  Pretend there aren't any and write a brilliant piece.  We can all tell horror stories about judges.  Anyone who gets "Horror . A writer . a writing contest" will just describe the situation they're in.

If you had said "Horror" and "Romance" I would have replied with "Synonyms"...  Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2021 at 1:36am
Drama is simply the putting to sleep in steps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WoodyGS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2021 at 5:05pm
drama is about deep emotional conflict and realistic characters; relationships--romantic or familial or otherwise--are a major topic for successful, compelling dramas, wouldn't you say? 

also, for what it's worth, there have been plenty of genre-blended stories that have done well in this competition. i've advanced with fantasy/drama (when assigned fantasy) and drama/romance (when assigned drama), and i'm sure others can chime in with their own success stories.

i'm sure you'll do great. :) best of luck!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sara.E.Tall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2021 at 4:18am
I think I'd say that some romances are also dramas and some dramas are also romances, but as long as your story is at least a drama you should be fine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote deedodd81 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2021 at 10:50am
Originally posted by jennifer.quail jennifer.quail wrote:

...
Romance meanwhile can be subtle and doesn't require a HEA ending with hearts and flowers (I did very well with a Romance that was mostly quiet drama moments and none were real downers.) But the POINT of a romance is the relationship. If your story has the ex not the focal point, and we'd be satisfied either not knowing if she decided pluck up and try to rekindle things, or if she doesn't, and we don't really feel a need to root for 'them' as a couple, I would say that's not romance. Romance is about the romance, drama is about the conflict, even if it's a conflict between the MC and themselves. 
Literally just read said romance...like, JUST.

And it was divine.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RichmondRoad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2021 at 5:08am
I think you have nothing to worry about.
But it brings up an interesting point. Has anyone ever been disqualified for not following genre? Has anyone been disqualified for anything at all?
I think that just about every story that involves a relationship between two people is a romance of sorts.
I hope so, anyway ... my story for round one comes across as a really bad thriller/tragic comedy. But I was assigned Romance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2021 at 5:13am
Originally posted by RichmondRoad RichmondRoad wrote:

I think you have nothing to worry about.
But it brings up an interesting point. Has anyone ever been disqualified for not following genre? Has anyone been disqualified for anything at all?
I think that just about every story that involves a relationship between two people is a romance of sorts.
I hope so, anyway ... my story for round one comes across as a really bad thriller/tragic comedy. But I was assigned Romance.

Yes to both. I have heard about and seen the DQ's. Never used to, but there have been quite few the past year or so.  Usually they put a note at the bottom of the feedback telling them they were "DQ"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MikeWG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2021 at 4:53am
It seems to me that any story should end well. Even drama. After all, every person is faced with depression, stress disorder in life. And after I accidentally went to the site, I realized that it is very important to stop it in time. You don't make drama a comedy if you write a good ending. But this story will help many to be inspired and believe in good things.

Edited by MikeWG - 23 Sep 2021 at 2:01am
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