conflict and asking for more tips on elements of fiction.


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Thread: conflict and asking for more tips on elements of fiction.

  1. #1

    conflict and asking for more tips on elements of fiction.

    Your favorite explanation of story elements I would like to read about in this thread and learn( including a book where you may have gotten the explanation if you believe in craft books or your own). I know the explanations can get complicated and long. Pick the ones you want to explain. I am reading a book over 100 pages on only the subject of conflict which is what it is about imo. ( immediate fiction, currently at 28% of the book, currently resting and taking a break ). My favorite explanation came from the book mentioned. ( book by Jerry cleaver: immediate fiction)

    Some story elements I have read include. Conflict is according the author want + obstacle+emotion.
    Want, who wants what and why.

    Obstacle what is standing in the way. Dramatic conflict: character in trouble, excercise the license of the writer to be a sadist.

    Either can come in either order, obstacle+want= conflict. Want+ Obstacle= conflict. Someone has something to win or lose. An emotion is identification, a connection, a fear, worry, hope, or dream.

    Two irreconcible wills or desires. The character must start in danger according to his explanation.

    Any emotion you can conceive off in conflict with another.

    Denial of desire creates the fear etc. There is something at stake. Emotionally or physically. That is my interpretation. Each scene escalates and rises in tension towards the end and gets worse at the ending or near it. ( end of scene or story) three key emotions he mentions are fear, hope, desire.

    Life is terrible in a story to increase conflict. Life or death struggle, the stakes, what will happen to me if I fail? How can things get worse. Things get worse not better.

    Obstacle is the problem. Action is the what the character does to overcome the conflict. Work towards the resolution there will be many failures which is why a scene continues.

    An example includes the wife beater whom his wife wants to leave him and he does not. It is like living in perpetual trouble.

    It gets more complex than that and only at 28% of the book and am wowed at how it was explained. Not easy reading as it was intensive hours of study after that I was understanding.

    He covers internal conflict but later. It gives examples of conflicts and writing prompts but analyzes the conflict and the needed parts. Supposedly he read 200 plus books with the wrong definition of conflict so he analyzes only this in his book.

    Going to recommend image grammar by Harry Norden which gives strategies, recommends books on description, modeling description, and writing visually with the senses. It recommends books on description.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; August 5th, 2017 at 12:44 AM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  2. #2
    Sorry for not responding sooner. If someone was running for her life in a thunderstorm, I would not call that conflict or see any value in calling it conflict. Conflict needs at least two parties. It's one of the reasons we might want to keep reading to find out what happens. I will happily add conflict to a scene which is not working well enough.

    You essentially asked what we do to write good scenes. I have been looking at scenes from an old book, and my impression is that writers today easily make scenes interesting. For example, in the last book I read, there was a football game. Basic conflict, right? The author immediately personified by talking about the best player on the opposing scene. Isn't that a basic technique?

    You mention internal conflict. I do it; I even like it. But it's hard to make work compared to other conflicts.

    I have a webpage on suspense. The idea is that in a scene you would do conflict - suspense - outcome.

    I know, disconnected thoughts.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

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  3. #3
    For internal conflict, look within yourself. Bare a little of your own soul. Put yourself in the situation. What would you think and feel?

    So many focus on what the character sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells, but completely forgets about thinking and feeling (emotion).


    A lightning storm? Ripe for internal conflict. Anything can be.

    External conflict is too often contrived. Readers aren't fooled. They know when conflict is thrown in just to make things "interesting". It doesn't ring true. Take more time and keep things real. My opinion, anyway.

  4. #4
    Everyone has different opinions but I am not going to disagree with you on the conflict statement on what it is because it is a bit contentious or difficult to define for me too and I recently read two books on craft (but on internal conflict, I will comment on since I know that helps the story resonate after it is read). I need to continue this book by Jerry Cleaver, I think I am about at 60% or more. It's been tough reading it and I think I am taking a lot of notes on another craft book (currently but I may continue taking notes). I learn differently, but I have to take notes and read out loud to make sure I remember what I learn after reading which can be time too time-consuming. I need more time.

    The suspense part of it is to my knowledge withholding information or wanting to know what happens next. I agree with you there that it is important. Of course making a reader interested can happen in many ways. You can increase emotion in many ways you can argue.

    Sorry for not responding sooner. If someone was running for her life in a thunderstorm, I would not call that conflict or see any value in calling it conflict. Conflict needs at least two parties. It's one of the reasons we might want to keep reading to find out what happens. I will happily add conflict to a scene which is not working well enough.
    That is why when something such as a thunderstorm is called by some adversity would create sympathy since it is according to some a way to create emotion. Sickness can be a conflict and adversity and even story problem. It's internal, it is more complex. It involves a person struggling with their emotions. I know it is tricky to do. Anything not physical that is a conflict is an internal conflict. Such as seeking respect. Whatever that background motivation may be.

    Now adversity is not conflict but the thunderstorm happens to create an issue (not conflict in my case), as it makes us worry more about the outcome, and if two characters want something and someone is against that happening then you have if a conflict is present (two opposing people trying to oppose one another (internal conflict is indeed important to increase the reader tension). This is where I agreed with the book I was reading. That is where I may have the conflict.If two people find gold and there is during the time of the story a deadly storm and the characters want to claim it and that and they each want it badly for their own reasons it creates tension, and there is something to win or lose at (especially if they lose the gold because of the storm). They will have created conflict because they are opposing each other. Each scene should have a conflict supposedly. Each scene goal must be essential to happiness and that is why it must be denied or whatever the desire it is denied by someone going after an opposing want or need. I see adversity as a decision or choice in planning a story. Just as there are many creative choices. I kind of agree that a thunderstorm cannot be conflict because that is emotion. It is an obstacle. I kind of see the limits on what I can call a conflict.

    So I don't disagree. I hope this is more agreeable that it couldn't be because two opponents are humans or can reason.

    I understand that internal conflict is probably one point you were trying to get across. I think emotion is extremely helpful. Some say the plot dictates the events of the story and some say character. I don't know what to agree on but both are helpful. Maybe the best stories have internal conflict and emotion.

    I wish I knew some suspense techniques.

    Here's the example of a conflict with the gold, and a storm taken from writing the short story a hands on program by Jack Bickham:
    In the case of two examples provided for example you might write something like Joe and Bill find some gold but then they lose it in a storm or Jennifer loves Rockport but her husband Ralph has a new job means they have to move and she feels sad.

    Also, I will try to visit your website on suspense, just leave a link somewhere or a way to find it.

    (an adversity is an external force that creates an obstacle that is causing bad luck to the major players of the story).

    So agreed on the point of internal conflict.

    Agreed Jack of all trades. It is tough but to make it believable we have to think what the character may be thinking. (this may be called internalization). It's also a good tip I read today here on this web page and in this book. Character thoughts are internalization. Placing ourselves in their shoes is tough and would make sense. I liked the hints and tips given and decided I'd share these.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; August 16th, 2017 at 03:04 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Sorry for not responding sooner. If someone was running for her life in a thunderstorm, I would not call that conflict or see any value in calling it conflict. Conflict needs at least two parties.
    Time for Terry D to disagree with Emma again . The thunderstorm scenario would be ripe for a 'man/woman vs nature conflict' wouldn't it? That's one of the oldest types of conflict in literature. Conflict is simply a character's struggle -- however difficult, or minor -- against an opposing force. The Old Man and the Sea is a classic version of this conflict as is the more contemporary, The Martian.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Time for Terry D to disagree with Emma again . The thunderstorm scenario would be ripe for a 'man/woman vs nature conflict' wouldn't it? That's one of the oldest types of conflict in literature. Conflict is simply a character's struggle -- however difficult, or minor -- against an opposing force. The Old Man and the Sea is a classic version of this conflict as is the more contemporary, The Martian.
    It's been too long!

    To me, we can talk about the situation where someone has a goal. As writers, to make this interesting, we create obstacles. I just think a common sense definition of conflict is that the obstacle is someone else with an opposing goal. Then we can give advice like "Personalize the conflict."

    Hemingway described what the fish did to get away. You are going to describe what the lightning storm does to try to strike the main character? The storm aimed at the man, but at the last second the man turned to the right and the lightning bolt missed? You can conceptualize it as conflict I guess. If he sprains his ankle, is that another conflict? If he gets lost, is that a conflict?

    Is there any obstacle that isn't a conflict?
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

    Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    It's been too long!

    To me, we can talk about the situation where someone has a goal. As writers, to make this interesting, we create obstacles. I just think a common sense definition of conflict is that the obstacle is someone else with an opposing goal. Then we can give advice like "Personalize the conflict."

    Hemingway described what the fish did to get away. You are going to describe what the lightning storm does to try to strike the main character? The storm aimed at the man, but at the last second the man turned to the right and the lightning bolt missed? You can conceptualize it as conflict I guess. If he sprains his ankle, is that another conflict? If he gets lost, is that a conflict?

    Is there any obstacle that isn't a conflict?
    Have you ever felt like the universe was conspiring against you to keep you from getting what you want; even if that's just to make to a wedding on time on a windy, humid day, without your hair getting discombobulated? What about trying to make it to work on-time when all the lights seem to be stuck on red?

    In a larger sense, say in the scope of a novel with greater conflicts, such incidents are simply obstacles as you said. But, if the entirety of the story is about getting to that wedding, or getting to work so you don't lose your job, then those obstacles become the central conflict. The conflict in a story is always personal because it is what drives the change to our protagonist, and that personalizes the antagonistic entity, be it a person, a fish (although the fish isn't the antagonist in the Hemingway book), a great white whale, a storm, an entire planet, or the sword hanging above Damocles' head.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Theglasshouse View Post
    Agreed Jack of all trades. It is tough but to make it believable we have to think what the character may be thinking. (this may be called internalization). It's also a good tip I read today here on this web page and in this book. Character thoughts are internalization. Placing ourselves in their shoes is tough and would make sense. I liked the hints and tips given and decided I'd share these.
    Pretty much what I said :

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    For internal conflict, look within yourself. Bare a little of your own soul. Put yourself in the situation. What would you think and feel?

    So many focus on what the character sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells, but completely forgets about thinking and feeling (emotion).
    Maybe some find it tough, but it's kind of like playing pretend. Better yet, use your empathy to really be the character.

    Start with your feelings. How would you feel?

    Move to your desires. What would you want?

    Then continue to actions and words. What would you say and / or do?

  9. #9
    From the OP I take it that this thread is specifically about human conflict, but that is not the only type of conflict that can occur in a story. I take conceptual ideas and wrap them up in something else to present them to the reader, so I would view conflict as something far more fundamental and therefore not necessarily involving that human trait, emotion.

    A ball bouncing on the ground is a conflict. The ball feels a need to reach the centre of the earth and the ground equally needs to maintain its structural integrity. The ball is more flexible in its approach, so is willing to back off and come at the problem in a different way in the hope of finding a compromise, a way past the ground's stubbornness.

    A man points a gun at someone, demanding that they meet his need, but they can't and indeed nobody can. There is a conflict within the gunman's mind that only he can resolve. Also the gun has a need. It is old and possibly unreliable. It would probably still serve its master well if only he had met its need and cleaned it regularly, but he has been too engrossed in his own overwhelming need, so it may equally explode in his face and injure him.

    When I was young I saw the film 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea during its original release. I really cared about that submarine, the Nautilus. Captain Nemo fought for the rights of slaves and yet he never considered that his own slave, the Nautilus, could have a life of its own beyond serving his purpose and when he was dying he decided that it must die too. His crew had all committed their lives to his cause but, despite the pleas of his "guests", he persisted with his self-centred attitude when he believed that mankind was irredeemable and took the submarine to his grave with him.

    I think that conflict is something that materialises in the reader's mind according to their perceptions and the writer may not anticipate what form it takes. Hence it can be difficult to formulate it during the writing of a story.

    As I write from conceptual beginnings my stories can't always be presented in the context of real life, so my work may be seen as science fiction or fantasy. That's just the packaging though.
    Last edited by JustRob; August 17th, 2017 at 06:45 PM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  10. #10
    I realized all the mistakes I have made over the years because of lack of good information on the craft of writing. All craft the books I bought seem to fail because they don't provide enough examples and what is more, they can't tell you how conflict and inciting incident are related to structure. Now, I bought one that does just the opposite.

    Here's a good quote of structure from Nancy Lamb. The moment of conflict in my own words that moves the entire story or creates a prevention of the character's goals is the tragedy or reversal of fortune at the beginning of the story. There is a change that motivates the antagonists to prevent the characters to accomplish to help or aid the character to accomplish their dreams, desires, hopes, or goals, or conquer their fears.

    a. Exciting force (what we’ve been referring to as inciting incident) b. Conflict and complications 2. Climax 3. Falling action a. The reversal b. The resolution c. The last moment of suspense
    (Lamb, Nancy (2008-11-17). The Art And Craft Of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide To Classic Writing Techniques (p. 77). F+W Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition.)

    The structure of conflict (not story necessarily) is more important than people think is the point of what I am saying. If you don't have the structure of the conflict at the beginning, it becomes difficult to know where the story will go or the inner character's journey. That's to say conflict can come from anywhere. Like just rob said and we shouldn't feel limited to a definition. There are so many confusing definitions but I think I liken it to the ladder of conflict, often depicted in graphs, or charts, to this concept.

    BTW, she explains jack bickham and swain's technique briefly. She calls the elements of a scene and the sequel as a reaction. Thusly I understood it better that way. I recommend it if you never understood the book, at 40% and it explains viewpoint.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; August 22nd, 2017 at 08:41 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

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