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This is sort of related to my previous question because I'm preparing to write the same scene, but this is different enough that it warrants its own question.

So I'm working on a scene where a character gets very drunk and then makes a bad decision that impacts the plot. How do I make this dramatic/wink at the reader about the reality of the situation?

I usually have a certain way of changing my writing for integral and/or dramatic scenes. I have my sentences be way shorter or way longer than my regular writing, and I might add more paragraph breaks to a dramatic scene. However, when writing this drunk character, I feel like I can't make those changes because the writing won't seem different enough from my regular writing and they therefore won't seem that drunk.

For extra information, without getting into the plot too much (because if I tried to explain everything that led up to this part, we'd be here all day), the choice the character makes is kind of like a bad business deal. The character is offered to join another character's group, and even though the first character is aware that joining will basically cause everyone to die, they make the choice to get revenge on one person. The same thing happened to three characters before the drunk one, so the audience knows what the business deal means, so I want to make the scene dramatic because by this point they should (hopefully) be invested in this character's arch. (By the way, the previous characters weren't overtly given the option to join, instead being tricked and threatened. The drunk character had everything laid out and had no pressure for or against joining. Just so you know, big difference.)

So again, how do I make sure that this scene is dramatic while the character that I'm telling the story from the point of view from makes a bad decision while drunk that they believe is good?

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  • What PoV? First?
    – Laurel
    Aug 3, 2023 at 22:51
  • @Laurel Yes, it is in first person. Aug 3, 2023 at 23:08

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People can behave in many different ways when drunk. It's absolutely possible to be a dramatic drunk. It's definitely possible to be an angry drunk - which would work since this bad decision is motivated by desire for revenge.

Does the character absolutely have to be slurring words, stumbling, falling flat on their face and other stereotypical 'drunk' behavior? This could introduce unwanted comedic elements which might detract from the drama. It might be enough that they show impaired reasoning in their speech or inner monologue.

Maybe they might comment that the room is spinning, or that they shouldn't have had that last drink, and then get another one shortly after. They could slam their drink on the table when talking about the person they want to have revenge on, or point at people aggressively, or say things out loud that they shouldn't have. If this is different than their normal behavior and the reader is told that they're drunk, I think it should be clear enough.

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