Friday, July 23, 2010

Irony! An example thereof!

I came across an example of "dramatic irony," where the reader knows something the character does not. This is from Pompeii by Robert Harris.

"The safest investment is property in Pompeii!"

The reader, of course, knows that all property in Pompeii will shortly be covered in lava.



Anonymous said...

Have to admit, that is a an excellent example of dramatic irony. It also makes me wonder how the story turned out.
Thanks for sharing.

Edittorrent said...

It was sort of weird reading it because it was hard to get really involved with the characters, knowing that they would likely be turned to stone by the end.

Jordan McCollum said...

I feel like dramatic irony is the "easy" kind of irony, you know? Like, in my priest-spy book, there's tons of dramatic irony because the readers know all along that this guy's not really a priest (but a spy!), but the woman who's falling in love with him doesn't.

I find myself often choosing between leaving the reader in suspense (or creating tension) or playing on dramatic irony. For example, in one WIP's opening scene, I have the heroine witness a murder and get kidnapped. In the next scene, the hero (the heroine's fiancé) comes along the murder scene at her apartment building (the body has been taken by the coroner) and is super worried that it's her.

I know the second scene would be more tense if the reader didn't have the information from the first scene, but I don't know if it would all make sense or seem a little too convenient without that first scene. Plus, the first scene sets up the book-long suspense plot.

Anyway, the point: sometimes it's a trade-off.