Saturday, July 26, 2014

Conflict: The Indispensable Element in FIction

The following is paraphrased from pages 192-3 in a handy little hardback,  The Writer's Little Helper, about 7"x 5". Nice to carry in your pocket to read on the bus or subway.  

Conflict sells.  More so than sex, which in all its forms and treatments usually can be condensed into conflict anyhow. 

Conflict occurs in all literature, from Cinderella, to Tarzan to Harry Potter to the Bible, everywhere from Genesis to Apocalypse.  In a word, everywhere.

Good characters can't be interesting unless they triumph over something, normally an evil thing. This involves conflict. The stronger the conflict, the more precious the victory.

One of the best places to exploit conflict is in dialogue exchanges.

I totally agree.  We are bound up in conflict.  It would be perfect if we all got along.  But then where would the stories come from? Rather than explain your conflict, let your characters take over in dialogue. They'll talk to each other, maybe in a dysfunctional way; but that's what we want. They'll be sarcastic, passive aggressive and insulting--just to mask their feelings. And the mask wears so thin that the reader soon catches on to their true feelings. Even if they lie.

In short, no conflict, no story.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Late Night with Fog and Horses by Ray Carver

Late Night with Fog and Horses" by Raymond Carver
They were in the living room. Saying their
goodbyes. Loss ringing in their ears.
They'd been through a lot together, but now
they couldn't go another step. Besides, for him
there was someone else. Tears were falling
when a horse stepped out of the fog
into the front yard. Then another, and
another. She went outside and said,
"Where did you come from, you sweet horses?"
and moved in amongst them, weeping,
touching their flanks. The horses began
to graze in the front yard.
He made two calls: one call went straight
to the sheriff - "someone's horses are out."
But there was that other call, too.
Then he joined his wife in the front
yard, where they talked and murmured
to the horses together. (Whatever was
happening now was happening in another time.)
Horses cropped the grass in the yard
that night. A red emergency light
flashed as a sedan crept in out of fog.
Voices carried out of the fog.
At the end of that long night,
when they finally put their arms around
each other, their embrace was full of
passion and memory. Each recalled
the other's youth. Now something had ended,
something else rushing in to take its place.
Came the moment of leave-taking itself.
"Goodbye, go on," she said.
And then pulling away.
Much later,
he remembered making a disastrous phone call.
One that had hung on and hung on,
a malediction. It's boiled down
to that. The rest of his life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Few Spaces Left in my Teasing the Muse Workshop Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing: Teasing The Muse   NEW!

Can't get started writing your fiction or non-fiction? Are you stuck on a page? Join this workshop to incite your muse and end writers' block. Interactive exercises will put you at ease and let the words flow. Simply put, this class works.NOTE: Be sure to bring a brown bag lunch.

Writing: Teasing the Muse
Item: C513Catherine Alexander
10:00 AM - 5:00 PMLocation: Snoqualmie Hall   205
Sessions: 1 Sa20000 68th Ave W Lynnwood, WA 98036
7/26/2014 - 7/26/2014Fee: $79.00
Edmonds Community College

Progress On My Second Novel

The main problem in my second novel is drawing out the female protagonist. She is 21, admitted to a psych ward of a hospital after a suicide...