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Monday, October 17, 2011

Conflict in Plotting and Life

Let's talk about conflict. No, not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the kind of conflict we writers must create if we're to have a story.

Helen Keller once commented that "We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world." She was right. It is the conflict in our lives that becomes our best teacher. Writers know that without it, there's no story.

Typically a book begins when something changes in our main character's life, throwing her into a growth situation whether she likes it or not. Sometimes she (or he) deliberately chooses a new adventure; sometimes the "adventure" is thrust upon her and she moves only reluctantly into whatever her future holds.

A typical story arc follows her through the "rising action" (as the problems complicate and intensify) to a moment of climax when the conflict reaches its highest peak, to (we hope) a satisfying resolution.

Does that necessarily entail bad guys, good vs. evil, foul intention? I don't think so, and that's the argument I want to make in this blog over the coming days.

A woman who must choose between two men who both love her is faced with a difficult dilemma only when both are appealing candidates for marriage -- not when one is Prince Charming and the other the Prince of Darkness.

Stay tuned as we look at conflict, both with and without the bad guys.

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