Dramatic Irony

A literary technique where the writer reveals knowledge to the audience through character dialogue, or action that remains unknown to other characters until a dramatic revelation occurs. The actions and dialogue of the characters will take on a new meaning for the reader, causing suspense, tension, and humour. This allows the writer to emphasize, embellish, and convey emotions and moods more effectively.

Dramatic irony will create curiosity because of the contrast between the character’s situation and the way events unfold. This encourages the reader to anticipate, hope, and fear as the revelation approaches. Imagine knowing a character will commit suicide, but the character’s spouse does not know. If you leave feint hope, it will mean the man can still be saved and the reader will process things differently.

To create dramatic irony create a more complex, multi-layered narrative by letting different characters know different or varying amounts of information.The audience will view character interactions differently then the characters themselves. Characters can (should) only make choices based upon what they know so they will appear intelligent, stupid, kind, lazy, etc at your will.

Another tactic is to let your reader know more info than the Hero. You can play out events that will change the Hero’s demeanor in a chapter before the Hero finds out the truth. You can reveal information to your readers before the Hero anyway you see fit: through playing out a scene, secondhand from another character in dialogue, or even through an omnicent narrator. For more tension use an unreliable narrator who has already misled or blatantly lied to your readers to keep them second guessing.

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