Friday, February 10, 2012

The Drama Of Cheating

A couple days ago, I wrote about the skill of cheating. But what I neglected to mention was the drama of cheating. It's pretty damn exciting to watch other people do it. And it makes for good storytelling.

Again, I want to emphasize the idea of cheating in its broadest sense: It is achieving a goal by breaking a rule. In this sense, characters cheat all the time. They are always breaking the rules (or standard conventions) to get what they want.

Vigilantes are cheaters. People who trick their foes or otherwise practice deception are cheating in their enemy's eyes. When you expect a face-to-face conflict, but you get struck from behind, they broke the conventions in order to win.

But in breaking the rules, there is incredible excitement. One cheats in order to succeed. They use their brains to overcome brawn. But because they are breaking the rules, there is a risk of being caught. Getting caught will not only cause them to instantly fail, but suffer consequences potentially worse than failing the test in the first place.

A good storyteller gets you to feel for the protagonist (who is generally the cheater). Your heart pounds during the set-up. You jump at every sudden noise. A success gets you to jump up in excitement and a failure makes you feel doom in the pit of your stomach.

All of those ups and downs, those tensions and releases, they all come from the drama of cheating.

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