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For example, I want to say that a writer has great dramaturgic(al) skills (meaning that he's good at writing original, captivating and powerful stories, able to stir the readers' emotions).

The dictionary gives the same definition for both, that is "relating to the technical aspects of drama". On Google, I found more results with "dramaturgical", but I'd like to know if the two terms can be used interchangeably.


I guess probably the best term to use is "dramatic" skills, as Canadian Yankee suggests. According to dictionaries "histrionic" and "theatrical" have too much to do with acting or stage performances (often in a too melodramatic way). I also thought of "writing skills", but it's too general. Even a person writing a résumé for a job application can have good writing skills, but it's better if he or she leaves dramatic skills aside!

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    Furthermore, I want to stress to you that dramaturgy is a far less common word than the two synonyms I have listed below: theatrics and histrionics. I say theatrics and histrionics and its adjectives all of the time; I seldom use dramaturgy unless I happen to be writing a paper wherein I need a synonym because I've used the same word too much. – Nick Dec 4 '17 at 14:51
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    Perhaps it's because I've actually known professional dramaturgs, but I'd use the word dramatic in the above sentence as meaning "good at writing good and powerful stories". Being dramaturgic is writing about stories, not writing the stories themselves. A dramatist is someone who writes plays, while a dramaturg is someone who write about plays. – Canadian Yankee Dec 4 '17 at 18:48
  • That's one of its definitions; its other definition is "playwright". – Nick Dec 5 '17 at 9:43
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Both "dramaturgic" and "dramaturgical" are understood as pertaining to dramaturgy and are synonyms. The latter is more common between the two even as Ngram tells us.

However, as both Nick and J.R. comment, it is better to use everyday words like theatrical (more common) and histrionic not to sound old-fashioned or overly formal.

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    Yeah, they mean the same thing, and other synonyms of your words above are theatric or theatrical; histrionic or histrionical. I would agree with Alexander that dramaturgical is more common as I have probably never said dramatugic although I've heard it said. As for its synonyms, theatrical is more common than theatric and histrionic is more common than histrionical, so there is no pattern regarding the ending -al and its being more prevalent; it just depends on the word. – Nick Dec 4 '17 at 14:42
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    @NicholasCastagnola With respect to the three words, I find "dramaturgical" being a more expressive and a more poetic word than either "theatrical" or "histrionic". – SovereignSun Dec 4 '17 at 14:54
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    I agree. I'm just pointing out that it is very uncommon, so I pointed him to two words that a native speaker should know offhand. If I said dramaturgical to 20 native speakers, they'd probably all have an idea that I'm talking about drama; however, I would bet that more than half would not know exactly what I am talking about. – Nick Dec 4 '17 at 14:57
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    @NicholasCastagnola I wouldn't expect a native speaker to not know the difference between "dramaturgical" and "dramatical" – SovereignSun Dec 4 '17 at 14:59
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    I agree, J.R. It is unnecessary and would be highly confusing when there is a simpler term to use. I told him that the synonyms of dramaturgical such as theatrical and histrionic are far more common than this word; therefore, he should stick with those two words instead. dramaturgical is a great word to write in a formal paper, but it is a bad word to bandy about in common parlance. – Nick Dec 4 '17 at 16:11

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