Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's your problem?

Hello Writers!

When writing fiction, one of the first things to establish in the narrative is conflict. It is the writer's task to create a setting in which something or somebody is really screwed up, and then employ her plot structure to resolving said conflict. In this way, many writers of fiction are like born-again believers; they start with the premise that the world is broken, and needs to be fixed, the plot is redemption, the climax is armageddon, the ending is eternal life (or not). Of course conflict comes in many forms. Your story's conflict might have to do with a traditional binary of good versus evil, a disfunctional relationship, psychological disconnect, an unsolved mystery, and the list goes on. Sometimes the conflict is broader, and influences not just the protagonist/antogonist(s), but the world in which the author lives as well. These might be called social commentaries, but the catagory is often broader than that.

How do you as writers handle conflict in your stories. How does conflict evolve as the story progresses? Is there always a resolution present in your mind, as the author, when creating conflict, or are you accompanying your characters in quest of this resolution?


  1. Interesting and, I think, poignant observation! To answer your question in regards to my own writing - I have no idea. I have a very hard time with fiction. I'm curious to see what others say, and to hear your own thoughts! :)

  2. As for myself, I rarely have a plan hammered out before the end of a story. I accompany my characters in their quest for the resolution to their conflict. I find that this does two things: 1.) it makes me an author who, while slightly more prone to writer's block perhaps, is engaged and curious, becase the story is taking on a life of it's own. A story should always have its own life force. And 2.) It causes me to really get to know my characters. I have to be inside their head and be psychologically intimate with them. This too comes at a cost. The danger here is writing characters that are replicas of yourself. The challenge is to create conflict for your characters that isn't your own personal conflict, first of all, and then have your characters reacting/resolving said conflict in ways that aren't your own, necessarily.

    I will say that I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that even if you're the type of person to outline the hell out of a prospective story, there is a little bit of give and take, a little elbow room to evolve the story. Sometimes, no matter how micro-managing of the plot you may be, the story takes an unexpected turn.

  3. It has been years since I tried to write fiction; my own story needs to be told first, I think. All my characters become me, and then I stop, because that isn't the story I was trying to tell. Even so, I rarely use an outline - I find I lose interest if I do that.

    Thanks for your great thoughts! :)

  4. I like the idea of fiction with an unexpected turn! We read fiction for such a moment so unreal to our own lives. I was 8 years old when I wrote my first short story, I made it all up but used myself as the main character, I was also terrified of dogs but wrote that I loved them and rescued a puppy in that short story. FUNNY now looking back I am still the heart and soul of that 8 year old little girl. I always have a good beginning for a story along with an ending usually at the same time, it keeps me focused in how I want to carry the story to the finish line. If the fictional story dies in the middle I usually think to myself "But I had such a great ending!?"



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