* conflict

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 26, 2012

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

  • The entire story is a series of obstacles for Andre-Louis to overcome.
  • Every other character exists mainly to create such obstacles.

Silence in Hanover Close by Anne Perry

  • “Ballarat disliked Pitt and resented his manner, which he considered insolent.”
  • we know early on (p3) that Pitt’s boss doesn’t like him, and we sense why. This enmity between the two turns out to be of real significance as the story unfolds.
  • Charlotte explains to Radley how she will investigate Pitt’s case. “But will Pitt approve?” … “Thomas won’t have to know.” This is conflict coming big time.
  • However, when Pitt finds out what Charlotte has been doing, he is so appreciative of what she has learned  that he expresses no anger. I found this to be unrealistic.

 The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

  • between Dona Maria and her daughter Dona Clara, who “barely glanced at the letters.”
  • between the twin brothers Manuel and Esteban over Manuel’s love for the Perichole.
  • between the Perichole and Uncle Pio, as she grows too much a lady to be seen with the man who had everything to do with her success.

Write Away by Elizabeth George

  • plots must have conflict
  • Events occur as the conflict unfolds
  • Conflict is a form of collision
  • Conflict can be created by resistance against a character’s desires. Resistance can come from within the character himself, from nature
  • Conflict adds tension to the novel
  • The story’s conflicts are reflections of the theme
  • Put your characters into conflict
  • Look for subplots (which provide opportunities for conflict) based on character’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Characters are interesting in their conflict, misery, unhappiness, confusion; not their joy and security
  • what does the character do when under stress?
  • conflict is what brings characters to life and makes them real for the reader
  • Put the character to the test by putting him into conflict; he then springs to life, forced to make a decision, to act on that decision
  • create a situation where the characters are bonded together and are unable to escape being in conflict with each other; then “heat” the situation
  • conflict is a character’s will in collision with something else
  • a character’s inner conflict will show that he is real
  • conflict works best when it is rising conflict, builds over time, reveals more facets of character as incidents occur
  • Every scene must have conflict.  Begin at the low point, let the tension rise to a climax, then provide a resolution which propels the entire novel forward.
  • foreshadow future conflict with the present dialogue
  • after writing dialogue, evaluate it. does it add tension? does it demonstrate conflict between characters?


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