How To Write Conflict – Creative Writing Basics

Conflict Definition In Novels

Writing a novel or story that works means including some essential ingredients. From a reader’s point of view (which is the only POV that should interest us!) conflicts between characters , and how they are resolved, is the energy that keeps them turning the pages. Is that a good thing? You bet – it’s why we write! An author must take the characters he’s painstakingly created with loving care, and introduce turmoil of varying severity into their fictitious lives. How to write conflict, that is, creating, sustaining and resolving the events causing it, is a vital skill to develop when telling a story. I’m not just referring to the main obstacles in the hero’s quest, but normal everyday stuff, like jealousy between friends, being irritated by someone’s arrogant attitude and any number of similar attacks on a normal person’s sanity. Writing Conflict Can Sometimes Be Helped By The Novel Genre The genre of your story can direct you towards the kind of conflict that needs creating. The conflictual events are the catapults that shoot the novel forwards and they are ever-present. The genre will loosely dictate the kind of situations that can unfold, giving rise to a particular kind of conflict. In a fantasy world, a dragon might breathe fire all over us, or simply be very annoying, continually telling us where we are going wrong. A sci-fi novel presents a whole gamut of possibilities, from evil scientists to slimy aliens bent on entering our bodies by any means possible! (Made myself shudder a little there!) The kind of conflict, the severity and the nature of the event causing it will surely be affected by the genre. In a historical novel, a character stepping out of the scope of accepted normal social behavior could be a source of conflict, while in an adventure novel, a hero dragging his legs through a jungle swamp while covered in leeches might deliver the goods. Conflict Often Surprises The Characters In A Novel – Sometimes the Author Too! For all levels of conflict, the astute writer looks for new and interesting ways to deliver conflictual situations, perhaps introducing something entirely new into the genre – readers love this! Many stories within a genre follow the same old formula and it can get boring, frankly. There’s an old adage from movie making that comes to my mind, when the producer says ‘Give me the same old […]

What Are Subplots In A Story? A Definition Of Subplots.

In a previous post I did my best to try to define the Story Arc in terms that we can all understand and agree on. I don’t say this lightly, because even among the professionals, there are different definitions for story, plot and subplot. A good starting point might be to give a broad definition for each before moving on. It’s not a fat lot of good talking about these things if the concepts don’t mean the same thing to different people! The whole idea is make things a little clearer in order to make the path to a completed novel easier. The Definition Of Story Vs Plot – Does Plot Mean Story? The story is the broadest level of describing a sequence of events, so ‘man loves girl, loses girl, proves himself and wins her back’ represents a very basic story. The fascinating thing is that this story can be applied to many different themes and settings. The hero can lose and win back the girl if he’s a cowboy or a spaceman far away into the future. It is the components of the story that define it further, which is to say, plot, characters, dialogue and narrative. When it’s looked at in this way, it becomes obvious that the plot isn’t the same as story, but is a sub-category of it. Our story needs characters which are involved in events. The actions that the characters take in these situations is the plot. Just as there could be two or more story lines that run parallel and intertwine, so will there be subplots within them. These subsets are crafted by the author to augment the main story line and reinforce the overall story message, or them, that he’s trying to convey. Writing Subplots – The Multi-dimensional Novel Defining your main story arc is one of the first vital steps in planning your novel, but care should be taken with the smaller stories within it, and their subplots. These subsets are no less important as they add depth to the main story, enhancing it and giving it a depth and interest that gives the reader a much more satisfying experience. That said, the author needs to be clear about plot/subplot hierarchy, ensuring that the subplots don’t overpower the main one of dilute the overall theme. Subplots Need Planning Too – Make An Outline It’s a great idea to build a database, […]