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.

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