Drama: what it is, types of drama, characteristics, origin, exponents and more. 


What is the drama subgenre?

It is one of the most important literary subgenres of the artistic world, characterized fundamentally by conflictive situations, content that generates the debate between the ideas and thoughts of the characters, as well as their feelings and all kinds of circumstances faced, in many cases, by human beings.

Drama is a genre elaborated for staging. It should be taken into account that according to its development and the evolution of human life, it has taken other scenarios, such as not only the theater, but also television and cinema, so that it becomes a subgenre dedicated not to the story, but to the representation and staging of situations in which a story develops. However, drama can also be associated with an unhappy event of existence.

Meaning of the subgenre drama

The term drama comes from Latin origin, referring to a set of very tense situations that may also include conflicting events. According to the above, drama, as a subgenre of the dramatic genre, links all kinds of texts that move from the sensitivity looking for an emotional response in the viewer. To achieve this, it makes use of scenes that move, as well as characters that express their thoughts and go through problems.

Definition of the drama subgenre

In literature, fundamentally, drama is a type of physical representation of fictional or non-fictional events, using written dialogue, either in prose or verse, as a medium. As a subgenre, it will focus primarily on human beings and their sufferings, conflicts and circumstances that generate emotional and sentimental debates that move its readers and viewers.

What is the function of drama?

The drama as a subgenre, includes all kinds of situations that are conflictive within human life, so that its objective is to bring these problems to the stage representation where it exalts this section through the story that develops. These problematic scenes can also correspond to an unhappy event in real life that generates commotion and awakens emotions in both the characters and the spectators.

Origin of drama

The origin of drama is attributed to the tragicomedy Anphitrion by Plautus, although it would be a considerably premature representation of the subgenre. Later it began to work and develop especially during the Renaissance with works such as La Celestina, where it is specified in the titles of Fernando de Rojas, “Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea”, whose originality of composition will mix both comedy and tragedy. It is at this moment where the term tragicomedy allows to derive the appearance of a new subgenre called “drama”, which includes a theatrical meaning of greater strength and with greater diversity of elements that will reach its evolution during the classic comedy of Spain and the Elizabethan theater, moment in which it includes a series of characteristics brought from Antiquity but configuring a new subgenre that will allow the entrance of new forms previously incorporated spontaneously.

Another of the triggers for its emergence was the separation of comedy and tragedy during the Neoclassicism, but where the romantic aesthetic influences its fall. This is how in the Romantic theater begins to reduce the use of classical rules linked to the compositional creation that will allow the distinction of drama, used to designate in this first part a theatrical model established by the Romantics. Thus, drama begins to be conceived as a way of representing on stage the totality of the human condition.

What is the drama subgenre

Characteristics of drama

It is a subgenre worked and developed in diverse esnecarios, hence its forms of composition vary, however there are elements such as the following that remain in force within its modalities. These are:


The first thing that jumps out is the approach of this subgenre, which establishes either a tragedy or a conflict that is painful, starring a series of characters with a great contextual importance, however, they are closer to human reality.

Use of feelings

One of the most important particularities of drama is given by the work of playwrights, who strive for the construction of situations crossed by the character’s feelings that are able to move and arouse the emotions of the audience within the story. This tension, which is built from the very first moment, keeps the spectator on the lookout for what will happen next.

Dramatic tension

Very close to the previous point, this tension consists of keeping the audience connected in such a way that they are constantly wondering what will happen next. This tension holds the viewer with the story as it unfolds.

Problem solving

Drama plays are characterized, among other things, because they handle a much more logical and sane style in which the characters, faced with the situations they are presented with, do not go crazy, but, by different means, constantly try to solve any obstacle.

Elements of the drama subgenre

This dramatic subgenre, in particular, uses a series of expressive resources that serve for the representation of its content, among them we find:

Dialogue: this is the exchange made by the characters about ideas, thoughts, reflections and feelings that are made verbally in any particular type of situation.

Soliloquy or monologue: it consists of a type of reflection made by the character in solitude, where he/she thinks out loud looking for answers, trying to solve his/her conflicts, etc.

Apart: it is a section in which the character talks to himself assuming that no one can hear him.

Mutis: this whole process culminates with the mutis, which is the indicator of the character’s exit from the scene.

Structure of the drama

As for the form of composition and structure that has the drama, this subgenre is characterized by having a division by acts. Each of the acts of the play is a kind of key inflection for the development of the story, which are marked by the closing of the curtain. On the other hand there are also the scenes, which consist of a division introduced in the acts where the same characters are present and in it the pictures, a kind of physical setting that corresponds to the scenery.

Types of drama

Among the variations of drama we find the following types:

Satirical drama

This type of drama was very common in Ancient Greece, where drama developed after a tragic trilogy. Thus, the satirical drama used characters that were part of the heroic legends to raise satirical choruses that amused the public.

Cinematographic drama

This type of drama is based on cinematographic art, known for being one of the most important genres of cinema that often contains situations of great tension, conflicts in the lives of the characters, serious situations and other series of events that are capable of moving the public, generating emotions born from the events that are presented.

Historical drama

Its content is essentially related to historical processes, episodes and figures of the same character.

Lyric drama

It includes poetry in its content, to the extent that the text expresses depth in the preeminence over the actions of each of the characters.

Passion Drama

It is directly related to the representation of the holy days, especially the Good Friday of Holy Week, which is represented outdoors.

Liturgical drama

It is distinguished from the drama of the passion since it was born in the Middle Ages and is dedicated to the materialization of the sacramental aspects represented.

Social drama

The content of this type of drama often represents a kind of concern that links elements of human beings such as their dignity, as well as social and political struggles, among which the strength and struggle of the proletariat stands out.

Abstract drama

This type of drama is not subject to a line or logic within human actions, that is to say, it is detached from the conventional behaviors of human beings, essentially linking the theater of the absurd where the absence of coherence configures its representations.

School drama

This modality of drama focuses on the theatrical representations of drama performed in school environments such as universities, drama that developed especially during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

How to write drama? 

Now that we have seen what this type of subgenre consists of when it comes to representing its content, we will see how to write a good dramatic story that can be taken to any stage. To do this we must take into account the following:

Choose the theme 

The path of our story is based on the theme we are going to choose, since it is on this outline that the other elements will be built. It is the main idea of the story or work, from what it arises and what it includes for its development. This theme can be represented by a character who presents who he is, where he lives, how he behaves and what he likes, the events that will lead him to face this problem.

The theme should bind the protagonists first hand, making that conflict become a point of unbreakable destiny that they must face.

Build the protagonist

While the construction of characters is key in all the figures that will be present in the play, the greatest work falls on the protagonists, because it will be from them that the plot will be represented and therefore, their personality becomes a key and determining factor for the development and confrontation of the obstacle.

Identify your protagonist from his age, place where he lives, interests, virtues, defects, what he is like, what his goals, desires, dreams and wishes are, what bothers him, etc. This identification of his character will facilitate, to a certain extent, the viewer’s anticipation of the reactions and ways of acting that the protagonist will have in the face of the problems he faces, many of which can serve as familiarization and identification without being sought.

It raises the conflict 

At this point, it is time to identify the central conflict that the protagonist or protagonists must face, in order to continue with the development of the main idea. It becomes the climax moment that can refer to the obstacles or problems that keep the protagonist away from his or her goals.

Record the order 

Now that you have these elements, it is time to take the story to organize it in a logical and chronological order, which allows for a better understanding when it is represented. It is not a requirement that the story follows a strict order, because as we have seen in many other stories, these can have jumps in time, however it is a requirement that these processes handle a return that does not lose the reader or viewer. Keep the sequence sustained

Create the setting 

The environments may depend on the number of scenes and acts in which you want to divide your story, even the space in which you want to represent it, however, it is necessary to identify these changes of space so you can build all the necessary setting, that is, the places where the actions of the work occur and characteristics such as the time of day, the conditions of the place, the presence or not of other people, etc.

Pose the ending 

Often in drama stories the ending may vary and not always achieve the objectives of the protagonist, given that he understands that circumstances may lead him to another set of situations that he did not expect or had not contemplated and all plans change, such as a trip is made, a love is found, the situation is restored or not, etc. All this set of conditions arise in the crux of the story, so it is key to identify the personality of the protagonist to make decisions according to their situation.


When you have finished writing your story, it is time to read it to check the correct sequence of situations and their comprehension, as well as to correct possible spelling mistakes, add or modify aspects that you consider were not completely clear, among others.

Elements of the drama subgenre

Authors and most important works

Among the exponents of this literary subgenre are works such as “Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino”, written by the Duke of Rivas, as well as “Un soñador para un pueblo” by Buero Vallejo, “La señorita Julia” by August Strindberg.

Example of drama

The following is an excerpt from August Strindberg’s “La señorita Julia” translated into Spanish:

-Juan: That’s what you say now, but deep down you despise me So much so!…. Once I came to the garden with my mother to clear the onion patch of weeds. Next to the garden wall there was a Turkish pavilion in the shade of the jasmine trees, covered with honeysuckles. I could not imagine what it was for; but I had never seen such a wonderful building in my life. Often people went in and out of it, until once I saw the door open: I crept in and looked at the walls covered with portraits of kings and emperors; the window had red curtains with silk fringes. Now you realize if I understand something…. (She picks up a sprig of elderberry and, without letting go, gives it to the young lady to smell). I had never been in the palace, I had never seen anything but the church; but it was much more sumptuous; and wherever my thoughts went, they always came back here. Little by little the desire grew in me to know all this wealth; I entered at last and admired; soon someone arrived. The building had only one exit, but I found another: I had nowhere to choose. (Julia, who had picked up the sprig of elderberry, drops it on the table).

To learn about other literary subgenres of the dramatic genre, as well as other genres that are part of this type of art, we invite you to visit our section dedicated to Literature, where you will find much more information about its elements, history, exponents and more.