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Rule of Drama

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Quilt: I have deduced that your old girlfriend escaped death because she was pregnant with your love-child and this Oracle Hunter is none other than your long-lost daughter!
Donovan Deegan: And how, praytell, did you deduce all that?
Quilt: Because it is very dramatic.

If the potential for conflict is visible, then it will never be passed over.

Without drama and conflict, There Is No Show. A show where everyone gets along and nothing unpleasant happens will bore everyone. This is the reason for the Rule of Drama.

Does everything look conflict-free? Not so fast. Something new and unpleasant must be introduced out of the blue. This is why happy couples tend not to last until the very end of the story, unless writers can find good conflict without breaking them up.

Raymond Chandler once described this sub-rule:

"When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand."

The Third Doctor once said:

"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But it's not necessarily the most interesting."

In real life, to avoid headaches and hassles, one prefers to plan ahead (sometimes months in advance), organize, analyze, take your time, be conservative, play it safe, stick to what you know will work, keep it simple, think it out thoroughly, have a backup plan, have a backup to the backup plan, know your limits, practice, rehearse, and drill. This, of course, is all well and good for planning the perfect family vacation, but makes for a dull adventure story. In fiction, Rule of Drama means that things are going to be much more drawn out, messy, unpredictable, and complicated, even if you are a Crazy-Prepared Chessmaster. Also, in fiction, even the ones known for their intelligence tend to make stupid mistakes, act impulsively or anything else just to get them embroiled in an adventure. Because there is no drama in being too smart or prepared to either avoid or prevent most nasty situations or having already intricately planned for every contingency. Essentially, the journey is widely considered more important than the destination, so everything can't run too smoothly, not even for the sake of the characters' peace of mind.

Essentially, when the writers run out of drama, they must invent ways to force drama into undramatic situations. When handled poorly, this leads to unusual, irrational, or highly improbable scenarios which only exist for the sake of prolonging the conflict.

To determine if a trope is a product of the Rule of Drama, ask yourself: If this trope weren't used, would this much crap even be happening?

The only place where the Rule of Drama does not apply is the Dénouement; the show is supposed to end there. But even then, you can wind up with a Sequel Hook.

Often comes up in books and films on history, because if it is found that two people had a conflict, however minor it may have actually been, it will often be milked at least a little - and sometimes too much by the writer. The reason is not necessarily because the writer is trying to lie or change history, but because conflict is something the general audience can identify with.

Compare Acceptable Breaks from Reality (video games following what makes them fun instead of realistic).

Related to both Rule of Funny in comedy and Rule of Scary in horror. See also Anthropic Principle.

Tropes That Quickly Come To Mind For Their Roots In This Rule, But Honestly, 90% Of All Tropes Might Fit Here:

Alternative Title(s): The Rule Of Drama