Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Conflict works - with care

Reading the entry by my esteemed fellow author *grinning and waving* I thought I'd put my own thoughts to the topic.

Conflict is what can drive stories forward. I haven't yet read a book where there is no conflict. But conflict comes in many forms. Emotional, physical, mental - you get my drift. It's interesting, intriguing, laughable, sad, violent - so many things it can make us feel.

But the kind of conflict I hate is the one that's thrust in there simply to make waves. The cause is easily explained, way too obvious, and feels forced. Sort of like...'Oh, this story isn't going anywhere. I'll have the hero say something and her misunderstand', which works fine, but not if it's way to obvious that the misunderstanding was completely silly. We all misunderstand things, but if it's important or jolting enough, we ask for an explanation.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in my normal rambling way, is that conflict caused by misunderstandings is fine, but not when the excuse is too flimsy to bear.

I love conflict that is a direct clashing of culture or personal traits. When it's between two people with strong opinions. When it's tossed out there between a fictional couple to fight over - now that's when we start to see something interesting happen! No misunderstandings, in fact, nothing but complete understanding but neither is going to back down from their beliefs.

Now that's conflict that works for me!


1 comment:

Xandra Gregory said...

I know what you mean - serious problems captivate me. But then, I don't want them to be serious only because the people having them aren't smart enough to see an obvious way out. That's my big problem - in my first drafts, my characters take pains to be clueless. Or the opposite and the problems are insurmountable because they just can't (overthrow a government singlehandedly) be solved by one or two people. Or worse--they're oblivious to the bad guy until it's too late. I tend to write my bad guys devious and extremely careful.

The more I learn about this writing gig, the more I realize how much I don't know.