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Theglasshouse
July 8th, 2020, 02:58 AM
Taken from a critique I wrote (copy and paste mostly from the workshop): (A possible hint of what is conflict: the more you know your character the better the conflict will be: taken from a book that talks about conflict paraphrased here in this thread about conflict since I had some bad concepts of what it was).

There's an alternate definition of conflict I am learning. It is defined like this: a character's motivation, backstory, and goal, is the source of their conflict. Characters are more important for their feelings. If we subscribe to this advice. It says that a character motivation must make us care about the character. Example: in You've got Mail. The woman is sending secret messages (emails and instant messages) to a competing book store owner. All conflict is emotional and uses feelings. In this movie its emotional since the bookstore used to belong to her mother. The children's book store reminds her of her mother. (example of conflict using a person's feelings)

I had a primitive definition of conflict I thought up. But as you can see, a person's experiences can help a writer a lot. I read about Jaws. The three main characters have 3 different backstories which creates conflict since they then have opposing goals. (my source for this is writing with emotion tension and conflict). It's the best money I spent. I took a lot of notes. I am studying it slowly. The opposite reaction of instinct is usually conflict. That is the reaction of the character. Which I assume translates into action.

First 3 character's backstories for Jaws: a scientist, a mercenary, and the police chief. Because of how different their conflicts are they all behave differently (the 3 characters). All this is backstory or the character's past, that plays a role in formulating the conflict. (they have 3 different goals)

To make a character standout, you make them act the opposite of what is expected. (this is open to interpretation)

(book and source: writing with emotion tension and conflict)

Taylor
July 12th, 2020, 08:25 PM
To make a character standout, you make them act the opposite of what is expected. (this is open to interpretation)

Good observation! I'm thinking of stand out characters and it is those who are unexpected that capture my interest. I love the characters of Jesse, Mr White an Skylar from the TV show Breaking Bad. The conflict for Mr. White was money, and the conflict for Skylar was loyalty, and not sure what Jesse' conflict would be. Perhaps adiction.

I wonder why there aren't more charcaters like this. Is it because it's easier to get the likeability factor for characters that only have good qualities? Is it hard to accept that bad characters may have kind qualities, like a serial killer being an animal lover? What would the backstory be? A history of abuse? Do we want to accept that inherent badness may come from experience?

Creating characters who act differently than we expect because of backstories is intriguing. But if they are villians with some good qualities, does it mess up our expectation of the good will prevail? Breaking Bad was incredibly successful...so maybe we are ready for it.

Theglasshouse
July 12th, 2020, 11:18 PM
Well according to her backstory could help create the goal or desire. According to her which it is needed to set up the conflict. The author's definition falls under the same definition of character-based fiction according to a book I am reading (the making of a story). Rather than create conflict which is overt and not subtle as for instance having a dead body in a room. She thinks the character's facts and backstory or most important history would help determine their personality. So you see there is no focus on situation but on the character. Although she doesn't fully explain backstory in a way how to create it. I think says it is based on a list of questions she makes. I have provided an example right below my explanations. I am glad you asked since I understand this better now. By explaining this to you I've made sense of this better than before when I first read it.

Needs are things people can't live without such as food, water, shelter, safety. Want has to more with things that we don't need but wished we had. Knowledge is one which is also a value. Value, beliefs, family relationships can serve as backstory/desire which can be used to create conflict. The scientist wants knowledge (like in Frankenstein by mary shelly) since the shark is big (I'm thinking values are expressed in poems too, and she doesn't say this but value is synonymous of what is desire for her which is an abstract quality that a person might want). Although I saw JAWS a long time ago this probably has to do with a new species of a fictional shark in the movie (imo beliefs are opinions or attitudes concerning the value but I dont know since she doesn't say this anywhere. But we can look it up in a dictionary). The mercenary or fisherman out to get the shark is after money and or vengeance. Vengeance we know is a story value. It's a negative value and has been written many times. Beliefs, she cites a movie called pay it forward. Now I read her analyses a long time ago. But the little kid who is the protagonist in the movie is altruistic and unselfish. I saw the movie a long time ago. The kid helps people who help him, but not only that but also random strangers.

NAME: Lorabeth Holdridge AGE: 20 JOB OR POSITION Preacher’s daughter; Caleb hired her two years ago; “social worker” personality FAMILY
PERSONALITY Hungry for love and affection; needs to feel special and be understood Love and beauty interest her TEN DESCRIPTORS (ADJECTIVES) 1. frustrated 6. spontaneous 2. idealistic,
sensitive 7. impulsive but holds it back 3. passionate but restrained 8. affectionate 4. stifled, eager for love and affection 9. curious 5. imperfect 10. wholeheartedly sympathetic Emotionally intense, helper, thirsty for life
Her strongest trait:
Equanimity, peacemaker HER WEAKEST TRAIT Envy HER GREATEST FEAR She’s only loved because she is perfect: “works” Being misunderstood, being defective INTERNAL MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT Weary of striving for perfection High expectations and visibility require much restraint She had a perfect mother, but that didn’t mean she felt loved Feels she has more potential Unrealized, understated, unappreciated potential
(from emotion, tension, and conflict)
What does he want? What price will he pay? Why can’t he have it? What is at stake? How does he feel about himself? What is his secret?

Imo these questions connect with the backstory concerning desire, traits, fear, and other qualities. Notice she feels the need to be loved. But had no mother. So how does she know how to love?

But you make an excellent point that backstory is a good way to surprise a reader. Which is something done in creative writing to make the reader feel satisified after reading a story.

Personally I am of the opinion a serial killer who likes animals is interesting. That's a soft spot.

There are other approaches to characterization. I am also reading the making of a story by Alice LaPlante. It's useful. It has some ways of generating ideas for making characters.

I can't post it here but the book is a good introduction to creative writing for beginners. I decided to share from a different book which I have been studying. So there you have it another approach to characterization. Which she and the book by Alice LaPlante says is the source of conflict (character).

Finally, the enneagram is a decent way to come up with parts of the personality according to her. I recall seeing people's personalities in the enneagram such as weaknesses and strengths. The writer uses the imagination to come up with the rest. How the character behaves and so on.

Taylor
July 13th, 2020, 12:01 AM
She thinks the character's facts and backstory or most important history would help determine their personality. So you see there is no focus on situation but on the character. Although she doesn't fully explain backstory in a way how to create it. I think she says it is based on a list of questions she makes . I have provided an example right below my explanations:

What does he want? What price will he pay? Why canít he have it? What is at stake? How does he feel about himself? What is his secret?

Imo these questions connect with the backstory concerning desire, traits, fear, and other qualities. Notice she feels the need to be loved. But had no mother. So how does she know how to love?

I am so glad you started this thread. I am a beginner novelist. I have done a fair bit of technical writing for my profession, but I have always wanted to try my hand at fiction. I had been thinking about the story and characters for some time, and then finally just decided to jump in and start. I'm about 60% complete at this time, and starting to wonder if I should have taken a course first to learn some of the techniques of creative writing. However, I am just pressing on for now.

But it helped me to read this, because it has given me some confidence. I have just intuitively followed this theory. I am constantly asking these questions, and I hope that the reader can make a link between each characters' personality and their motivations. The fact that people act according to their personal history is a big part of my theme.

I have also included quite a bit of backstory. I do this through flashbacks, having characters talk about each other, or sharing memories in conversation. Or, just thinking of the past when they rationalize their actions on their minds. I'm hoping it's not too clumsy. But I guess I can always re-write....



I can't post it here but the book is a good introduction to creative writing for beginners. I decided to share from a different book which I have been studying. So there you have it another approach to characterization. Which she and the book by Alice LaPlante says is the source of conflict (character).

I'll look for it...

Theglasshouse
July 13th, 2020, 01:18 AM
Thanks. I'm glad it made sense. Right now I am reading the book mentioned. I just finished eating dinner which is why it took some time to post this. Yes the book is also called the norton guide to creative writing by Alice LaPlante. It definitely gives some confidence. It has some 50 exercises. It can be inspiring in this way. If anyone has any other questions about what I am explaining then I will try to answer those questions. I am still reading. It takes me a decent while to log back here to the forums after reading. I take my time.

Theglasshouse
July 13th, 2020, 08:20 PM
One more book recommendation if you think you may need it. A character's conflict is their history according to this book which is what you said.

A character needs external conflict to create the internal conflict. In conflict there is a loser always and a winner. The compromise makes them into a more complex character.

Only one person can have the item, whatever it is be it a person (like in a love story) or an object.

You have to know who the character is. The compromise makes the character grow.

A man has no computer, and needs to desperately needs to rescue his company's reputation from a bunch of hackers. His son took it to school let's say.

While another character who is his son wants to have the computer because it could cure one of his friend's sicknesses. It has a medical recipe to cure a disease.

The "who" is the personal or the person being described. What their problem is. Inside and out. Both want the computer. Only one can have it. Make the compromise between them a stated mission statement.

You would need to know more information about the father's background. What's more important? To save a life? Or save a company? Let's say both are instant life or death. One could lead to financial ruin and jail, while the other is idealistic. But that his son is getting more depressed by the day. He could no longer exist.

So maybe a compromise is reached. But you can see how that calls for action on the part of the character.

The book that explains this is debra dixon's gmc: goal, motivation, and conflict. You can try to buy it from Gryphon books for writers. They have a website where they sell it much cheaper than Amazon as a book. But it can also be bought digitally (if you do this type inside electronic post-it notes with your Kindle device open). Today I spent a while analyzing it. This is my example. I used her theory to write the conflict. Where no compromise is possible there will be a loser in the conflict. BTW, the explanation is similar to the thread's. Just that you need external and internal conflict to complement each other to move the plot.

So as you can see character history is implied by the "who."

Theglasshouse
July 20th, 2020, 02:19 AM
This is to correct some bad misconceptions on conflict I have. Ok so I have an immense collection of books. What I don't like what the author of emotion, tension, and conflict explains is that the author does not delve into details of what are needs and beliefs. Both of which are important to define. She does not define them but I will here.

I did more research into the terminology she uses. Needs refers to maslow's hierachy of needs. Which you put two needs against one another you have conflict. (if we google needs a pyramid appears such as food, shelter and so forth). https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html#references

This reference I got from an interview I read on the internet with elizabeth george. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/starting-a-novel-while-stuck-at-home-seattle-author-elizabeth-george-shares-tips-in-mastering-the-process/

Beliefs can add conflict and characterization.

Values

Beliefs are the following:


Based solely upon what the character has observed during his own lifetime, and therefore placing all textbook definitions aside, in what way does the character view courage, cowardice, wisdom, unkindness, nobility, morality, corruption, success, achievement, friendship, justice, injustice, selfishness, beauty, forgiveness, ingratitude, respect, freedom, virtue, vice, wrongdoing, education, love, marriage, a promise, blame, fairness, friendship, change?


Lauther, Howard. Creating Characters: A Writer’s Reference to the Personality Traits That Bring Fictional People to Life . McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Lauther is a sociologist. He penned the above book.
As for value, I'm still researching that to make sure I can add more conflict to my stories. But in Christmas carol, scrooge supposedly does not value Christmas. Basically after I order some books I will resolve this issue. I am missing the value of the big 3. Backstory comes from researching events of a character's past. Right now I am going to research so documented people for whom they made films about such as Gandhi. Unfortunately some people who have been documented of course are infamous killers in history (unabomber). But imo it's better than asking my brother who has almost no flaws. That way I can learn more about them.

It's a lot of detective work. But I am sure I know what I am referring to. I realize I am working at a definition of character based conflict. Any definition by others is appreciated if they "chimed" in.

Turnbull
July 20th, 2020, 06:36 PM
Conflict is anything that stands between the MC and his goals. Or so I read somewhere.

Theglasshouse
July 20th, 2020, 10:59 PM
I agree with you. This is character centered conflict to be more specific.