Language Lab

5 ways to make your English writing more dramatic

When we write in English, we are usually told that clarity is the most important thing. For example, when you write an email using short, simple sentences is the best way to make sure people will understand your email. There are times, however, when you can have a bit more fun and experiment more with how you use English. One of those times is when you are telling a story.

When you are telling a story in English, it’s important to make sure that people can understand what is happening in the plot but it’s also essential to make sure that the reader remains interested in what you are telling. In order to do that, you’ll need to make your English writing more dramatic and here are five simple ways  to do it.

Choose who is telling the story
In English, it’s common to use a narrator to tell a story in the third person. For example “Simon left his car and walked towards the empty house.” This is a popular way of telling a story because it’s easy to talk about what all the characters are thinking and the narrator can mention things that the characters might not have noticed which will be important later in the story.

Often, a way to make a story more engaging and dramatic is to use the first person. For example “I got out of my car and walked towards the empty house.” It can be tricky to write a long story in this form because you only have the point of view of one character. When it’s done well, though, it can make a story really exciting because it’s like seeing it through the eyes of the character. Choose carefully who will tell your story before you start depending on what kind of story you are telling.

Use more specific vocabulary
One of the great things about writing in English is that we have a lot of specific vocabulary that can describe a complex action or object in just one word. Take the word ‘walk’, for example. Instead of walking, in English we could ‘stroll’, ‘stagger’, ‘stride’, ‘swagger’, ‘saunter’, or ‘schlepp’. Each word would show the character walking in a different way, and those are only the examples beginning with ‘s’!

Experiment with sentence structures
In advanced English textbooks, learners often look at some of the sentence structure, such as inverted or cleft sentences, and think “When can I use that in real life?” Dramatic writing is a great time to use both those structures. For example “I didn’t realise there was a body behind the door until I opened it” is nowhere near as dramatic as “Not until I opened the door did I realise there was a body behind it!”

When you are structuring sentences in a story, think about whether you want to put the most important information at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis or save it until the end of the sentence as a surprise.

Let the characters speak
Reported speech is useful in some situations, but for making writing dramatic, direct speech is usually better. For example “Simon said that there was a body behind the door” isn’t very dramatic, unlike “There’s a body behind the door said Simon.” If the characters are saying something interesting or exciting, let them do it and don’t interfere with your own words.

Think about the structure of the story
Many stories written in English follow a simple structure of: opening, complication, crisis and resolution. The opening sets the scene and introduces the main characters, then something happens to make the situation a bit more complicated or challenging, possible a new character is introduced. After that, there is the main crisis or problem in the story which gets solved in the resolution. While there are other English story structures, if you are new to dramatic writing, this is a good one to start with.

So, now you know how to make your English writing more dramatic, all that’s left to do is to find a story to tell. Try writing your own story in English using these tips. Who know’s? Maybe it will become a bestselling novel!

Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.

Wil

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