Dramatic irony is a literary device in which the audience knows something the characters of a story don’t.
A story can create engagement by relying on narrative drive: making us curious about what happens next.
However, if we know the ending, the author can make us wonder how the events unfold.
This is pulled from the plays of ancient Greeks, who didn’t believe that knowing the ending of a story will spoil it. Most of their tragedies revolved around mythic heroes, whose fates were well-known.
What makes these stories tick instead is dramatic irony. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
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As playwright David Mamet puts it,
“[Storytelling] is not… the communication of ideas but rather the inculcation in the audience of the instincts of the hunt.”
What keeps us engaged when consuming content is our brain’s constant desire and struggle to piece everything together to figure out what happens next, a phenomenon Robert McKee named “narrative drive”.
This process lies at the heart of dramatic writing, being why you just can’t put a good book down and why you binge whole seasons in one go.
Everybody is familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be. That you're not successful enough or don't have good relationships. A chronic dissatisfaction makes you look outward with envy and inwards with disappointment. Pop culture, social media and advertising makes this worse and many self-help products imply that it's your fault for not working hard enough on yourself.
It turns out that one of the strongest predictors of how happy people are, and how good they are at dealing with hardships is: Gratitude.
We all are familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be in terms of success, relationships, material possessions. This feeling can make you look outwards with envy and inwards with disappointment.
Pop culture, social media and advertisements are not helping either, because they work as a constant reminder that aiming for less than "perfect" equals failure.
In a nutshell, the antidote to dissatisfaction (with looks, lifestyle, relationships, etc) is gratitude. It may sound cheesy but it is thoroughly researched and experimented.
❤️ Brainstash Inc.