Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Basics: Conflict

If you've been writing for even a few days you'll have noticed how difficult it is to get the opening of your story/novel right. In fact, aside from writing a satisfying ending to your story/novel it's probably one of the most difficult components of the entire story arc.

If you're the type to seek help from other writers you will have probably gotten this comment: What you need is conflict. Sometimes this may be accurate. Other times someone may simply be parroting a common piece of story-writing wisdom – successful stories need conflict.

The big issue is that word “conflict” which is frequently misinterpreted to mean explosions/death/kidnapping/alien invasion/discovery of magic/etc. But not every story needs explosions/death/kidnapping/alien invasions/discovery of magic in order to be successful or interesting. A good story does, however, need conflict. Or, as I like to think of it, “something going wrong”.

It could be something relatively inane. The Blue Sword starts out with orange juice and boredom, but the heart of the opening chapter is still “something going wrong”. In fact, every story I like has “something going wrong” and an Main Character trying to overcome the problems created by that “something”. Usually, in trying to solve the problem of “something going wrong” that MC causes more things to go wrong and winds up with more problems to solve and challenges to overcome.

That is conflict.
Something going wrong.
Simple, yes?

So, what have you written today?