Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Conflict questions, problems, ideas?

I am trying to flesh out my booklet on conflict, and wonder if you all could help? In the comments, can you post an idea about conflict-- something you've discovered or are wondering about or having a problem a problem with?

Conflict, plot conflict, scene conflict, romantic conflict, external conflict?



Coolkayaker1 said...

Hi! Just some ideas/brainstorms of conflict issues that might be addressed and are thought-provoking for you, the author of your non-fiction book:

Subplot conflicts: must they all be fully resolved by book's end?

Psychological or internal conflict: how to initiate, how to ramp up, how affects others, how to resolve at book's end (like Holden Caulfield: are his character issues truly resolved? Permanent vs. temporary character changes).

Are internal character conflicts affected by others, and by external "clashes", or can they be purely a reflection of a flawed protagonist (i.e. life is great except in the protag's mind)?

Can a person ever have a physical object--such as a McGuffin object--causing conflict, or is conflict always between two living things/things with living characteristics (man v. animals, man v. man, man v. himself, man v. robot, two people chasing the physical object, etc.)?

Can conflict ever be resolved before the end of a book? Should the resolution to the main conflict be foreshadowed earlier in the book so that, once completely read, a reader has an ah-ha moment about clues earlier (like at end of movie The Sixth Sense: oh, so that's why she did that, etc.)?

Is there always a tie-in/relationship between the main conflict and any "plot twist ending" when such an ending exists?

Can an external character (not protag) or external event resolve a protag's conflict, or is it best for the protag to work toward and resolve their own conflict?

What makes for an unfulfilling (to readers) conflict resolution?

Can a book's conflict ever fail to be resolved at book's end and still be satisfying to the reader, or must the main conflict at least be partially resolved?

Hope those ideas help, and, if they make no sense, they may not to me either, so define as you see appropriate. :-) Thanks for your great blog, glad to have you back online.

Edittorrent said...

Thanks! I think that question about what's unfulfilling to readers is really important. It's so important to fulfill... something... but if you want a sequel or another related book, you have to leave something unresolved, right?
I'm interested in how we can "signal" as you mention-- foreshadow-- early in the book, so that the reader has a bit more sense of suspense waiting for a resolution.

Thanks for the ideas. I think I really have to add another section about 'seeding conflict in early and resolving late'-- sequencing, I guess.

Jean said...

An issue I have is how to maintain tension toward the resolution of a singular event the narrator is presently retracing.

In the seventeenth century Italy historical novel I'm working on, the narrator has accumulated evidence that led to a (pseudo) scientific discovery but the final proof required doing something forbidden. While in jail for it, he recounts the events that let to this crime. Doing so, the narration inevitably goes through a great deal of backstory and seemingly unrelated events of no criminal nature. Hence the question of how to maintain suspense until the end when things heat up. Periodically injecting reminders of the crime to be committed would work but hopefully without resorting to retrospection tricks.

Novel examples would be great.

Looking forward to that ebook,


Edittorrent said...

Thanks, Jean-- think about having conflict in the unrelated events... after all, he's relating them- relating as in "telling," but that indicates that in his mind somehow these backstory events are somehow related to why he did this thing that got him jailed.

Think of three or so events in the backstory that connect (whether it's clear or not) to this eventual discovery/crime. Is there some way to hint during this "relating" of their consequence? Thematically too I bet they connect. Like .... remembering he sneaks in to his mother's room and discovers that she's kissing a man. And he also remembers mixing two chemicals and causing an explosion. And he remembers getting lost in the old part of the city and discovering an antique store where there was some secret artifact and stealing it and getting caught. So what connects them-- Three discoveries that led to danger. That would show that for him, as with Faust, curiosity overcomes common sense?
Just an example. But the backstory of his life is what led him to that dangerous discovery that got him jailed... so it can't really be unrelated.