Thursday, February 03, 2011

Tinkles and Twigs

He who has imagination without learning, has wings and no feet.
Joseph Joubert
Conflict ~
Conflict can be expressed on many levels. Take yesterdays post of inner conflict. I wrote it so it wouldn’t be on my back pushing me down like an overstuffed garbage bag, but remember, conflict in a story can lift your words to new heights.

We have antagonist and protagonist in reality and in our fictional stories. The job is to know who is who and where they lurk. In life, they can seemingly be your friend, who has turned and gone to the other side of the moral spectrum, and in fiction it can be the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker. You are the creator so your antagonist can be whomever you want them to be. (Reality can hold antagonists such as your Butcher, Baker and Candlestick maker, too.)

I love conflict in a story. Have you noticed as you’re reading a book (or listening) and the story is going along smooth, a happy gathering of folk all laughing having a good time, then gunshots ring out in the neighboring apartment. This stirs a story into conflict. The characters all flee the scene and in doing so a person is shot dead! Why didn’t they just stay where they were?

You know why? Because the conflict would have fell flat. Conflict needs to be stirred in ways that the reader is trying to read so fast and get through the pages, they flip and flip until the story concludes and you find you’ve read the entire book in record time!

Without conflict, you have a toddler genre ready to absorb all the good in stories. But even in Children's writing, there NEEDS to be a conflict to get your point across and you can draw the lines from good and bad. Kids need a moral compass and as writers our job is to see to it that through our antagonist and protagonist, they can see the good guy and the bad guy. A child always wants to see the hero win in the end.

Adult novels, while some bathe in smut, most have a genuine love story wrought with conflict.  Like Odd Thomas. Not too many characters touch me like the Odd one and his endearing love for Stormy! No smut a bout it, this love went deep and lasted through four novels, all the while fighting off the demons that Odd had to carry around with himself.

So you see, conflict, whether real or imaginary are the things that make up life, whether fiction or non-fiction; whether internal or external, conflict arises when one wakes up in the morning on a seemingly beautiful day. The bars of sun stream in the window, not a cloud in the baby-blue sky, you open the door and are assaulted with the biting cold, the rush of traffic, the neighbors dog barking and every other conflicting noise, sound, sight, you can imagine.

Make your writing DANCE! Add a little conflict to it!


Stormcrow said...

What would life be without conflict?

joni said...

Peaceful! But that surely isn't going to happen, eh?