Inner conflict to be understood. A subjective definition inside.


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Thread: Inner conflict to be understood. A subjective definition inside.

  1. #1

    Inner conflict to be understood. A subjective definition inside.

    Real life conflict has ambivalence and this is inner conflict. When you feel forced to choose between two things of equal importantance. The flawed decision or the right decision is the answer to the conflict in a short story. In a novel which I haven't tried we seem to alternate with the character's pattern of success and failure. You learn by writing down in a story the inner conflicts of real life.

    Keep in mind that no matter what kind of conflict you’re choosing, what you should have is a character’s will in collision with something else: that is, some sort of resistance.3 This can take the form of another person’s will, another person’s body, a situation, or the character’s own internal functioning. If you’re going to use the last one, remember as you plot your book that part of this character’s type of conflict should be the indecision and ambivalence that are natural to all people. No matter who the character is, at some time he will suffer what we all suffer from time to time: guilt, fear, doubt, worry. All of these equate to an inner conflict.

    George, Elizabeth. Write Away (p. 62). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.
    Is this how you see and define inner conflict? I recently rewrote a story based on this idea.

    For example from real life I was forced to choose between taking medicine for social anxiety and not take it. This can easily become a plot if we manipulate expectations and frustrate the character's ambition to take the medicine if they have a change of heart. This is based on a real life experience. Stories are based on real life experiences.

    (this is based on me and what was a decision I had to make)
    This book's explanation is good and clear, but it's our real life experiences that make us into storytellers. The imagination is just as good a source to use. To use the what if question. (edits were made to the article)

    Any disagreements or agreements with this defintion or assumptions and if so why yes or why not? According to the writers of the future workshop writers use their real experiences to find plot and character.

    It is also a way of plotting because you understand the character better. By having them fight for a reward you have character development and a plot.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; May 28th, 2020 at 06:57 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)

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Theglasshouse View Post
    According to the writers of the future workshop writers use their real experiences to find plot and character.
    Real experiences may be a place to start for some writers. I don't think it's any sort of requirement. If everything was personal, some of us could run out of material in a hurry. LOL

    I see things like this and the first thing that comes to my mind is "writer's angst". Writers want to succeed, and are rightly worried they will not. And so the search begins for that 'edge', either in content or style, which will make their mark. Then we start to chase advice. There is plenty of it out there, often conflicting. At some point, I've read most of it.

    I think advice like "Writers use their real experiences to find plot and character" is a limiting concept in a field which is not only open to unlimited imagination, but demands it. To me, what I write (fiction) is inspired by my dreams and fantasies, not my life. A part of a character may reflect part of me, but it's not me, it's not biography. No plot I've ever written has anything whatsoever to do with me.

    Just as an added note, early on I was concerned that my first novel succeed. I agonized over my quality of prose and my plot, and I often ground to a halt. Only when I decided to ignore whether I would succeed did I make real progress. The quality and pace of my writing improved as I actually wrote, instead of worrying about writing. It really set me free to create and enjoy what I was doing.

    I think you were on a more helpful track over in the "What if ..." discussion.

  3. #3
    Fair enough. Imagination is also helpful. It does limit us to think only in this way and I do agree with that. I read that a writer in a featured writer interview said he used the imagination by trying to read everything that came before him and imitating the stories he read (by imitation I think he referred to used themes and maybe characters he had seen or borrowed). It does help to not write what you know or to use the imagination. I have heard writers that limiting the imagination by using what you know hurts the writer's development. I think this is true and I have heard it more than once from different people. What I was referring to was jotting down inner experiences or conflicts that anyone has experienced in everyday life. My mom wants me to go see my grandmother and there is the coronavirus on the loose. We celebrate Mother's Day on the last day on Sunday of the month. 2 months have gone since we have seen her. I consider that inner conflict, and on top of that it is her birthday. If I wrote that I'd need to frustrate the desire.

    Many great works have been written using the imagination and it varies by genre I'd think too. So you are not wrong and it's a valid argument to have. Some or many people think it limits them greatly. It's a decent source for me to use both, but I know this may not be the case for everyone.

    As time has passed there has been a debate and a long one on the imagination has been favored more so. Many writers made a name of themselves in both areas. So I stand corrected. I agree with that. I may have put an emphasis on experience. So I will agree with what you said. Writing what you don't know is also helpful. Many great writers used their imagination and still do. So no disagreement on what you said. I like to be holistic if that makes sense. I sense that if we are open to some ideas maybe it will open us to creativity. Such as to write whatever comes to mind wherever it comes from. I for example had a debate and heated argument on why I shouldn't go to my grandmothers house which is in the epicenter of the disease.

    Also, fully agreed that what if is a good way to generate ideas for plot in the middle of the story. It helps to plot if you fabricate lies and circumstances concerning a character and their situation using the what if... question.

    To be fair the what if questions writers make are a good source of imagination. Can be combined with other what if questions. Avatar's movie premise came from dancing with wolves with a human experiencing an alien culture. Instead of a person not of Indian society experiencing a different cultural war. Combined the premise of aliens with a human it made for an interesting experience. We can do the same and make a premise from a what if statement, and borrow if that makes sense and make that into a brand new idea that can be used to write a story.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; May 28th, 2020 at 07:04 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)

  4. #4
    I didn't comment at all on the Inner Conflict element your post started out with. I read the Future Writers quote and got fixated on that.

    Yes, I have seen plots that start with inner conflict so major it drives the entire story, and that is a suitable base for an intense drama, although I've also seen it played for comedy -- such as a guy wondering when/if he should lose his virginity. Not really a conflict for most guys, I know.

    I tend to use it for tension at decision points in my story. Take the safe way or the risky way? Then my character thinks it through. Of course, the answer needs to be "the risky way" if I want to keep building tension. But I have to show why he decided to take the risk -- why it was worth it. I literally just wrote that scene last night. The conflict didn't involve if the hero was willing to take the risk--he knew he was--but if he wanted to accept a risk to others, which would be inevitable.

    And I've got to say, for the sake of practicality, that sort of inner monologue can fill some pages when you need to. Everything I've written so far is adventure, and there have to be some bridges between the action. It's my way of letting the reader into the characters' heads. It still needs to be an interesting read. I always work to find some surprising reasoning that probably goes beyond what readers may be expecting.

  5. #5
    I have found the idea of "inner conflict" to be unproductive. When I try to write it, I end up with scenes I am not particularly fond of. I don't particular want to read other writers trying to do it.

    The principles for having good conflict don't apply to inner conflict. Including that adding conflict of any kind can help a weak scene, but inner conflict will not. And of course there is nothing to innerly conflict.

    I have no problems with writing about worry, doubt, people changing their mind, a decision having pros and cons, etc. Just don't think of them as inner conflict.

    IMO YMMV BTW
    English is a good language for people who like to be creative and expressive, not for people who want words to fit into boxes and stay there.

    Hidden Content -- Hidden Content

  6. #6

    Inner conflict

    What keeps a character awake at night is often an inner conflict. Frequently the conflict deals with a moral choice, e.g. an artist painting sentimental subject matter that he considers schlock, to make more money for his family. Or even more subtle, an artist who sells out for ,only rather than staying true to his vision.

  7. #7
    Emma I appreciate every reply I get. In fact, I feel like I did learn a few things. Vranger said in his own way that writers are probably better off when they are using the imagination to write their stories. I would rely on real life inspiration to start writing a story. I learned that imagination can play an important part of beginning a story not just using what if. The beginning part of the process on how a writer begins a story for me is crucial: to use imagination or to use real life as a source for getting inspired. For my genre I think more imagination is required than real life conflict. It also means borrowing tropes and from fiction and using what has been written before in a original way.

    The principles for having good conflict don't apply to inner conflict. Including that adding conflict of any kind can help a weak scene, but inner conflict will not. And of course there is nothing to innerly conflict.

    I have no problems with writing about worry, doubt, people changing their mind, a decision having pros and cons, etc. Just don't think of them as inner conflict
    Most people write novels. I am mostly a short story writer. Most people here are trying to write a novel.

    While there is no valid one way approach to storytelling since there are no formulas or methods. I value the definition I supplied because ambivalence is for me is what inner conflict could possibly be about.

    Just like that there is no one approach to defining inner conflict either. I know it is subjective and that's a possible definition.

    I think inner conflict can work better in some genres and other stories that have a specific plot. For example, the love plot seems to have inner conflict and so does the literary plot. Personally I think it has driven a plot in some novels from beginning to end. So it's an approximation if you will of a definition.

    What keeps a character awake at night is often an inner conflict. Frequently the conflict deals with a moral choice, e.g. an artist painting sentimental subject matter that he considers schlock, to make more money for his family. Or even more subtle, an artist who sells out for ,only rather than staying true to his vision.
    I am thinking this what I think helps some writers or seeing a definition that makes sense to them. While there is no one definition or agreement. At least I have seen it this way. Inner conflict being a moral choice sounds right to me however I know some people will disagree since it's difficult to reach a consensus in writing. Your conflict reminds me of tom waits. He wrote some good music, but he also has written some music which is controversial loaded with some expletives as if for shock value when I tried listening to it the other day. So I can imagine a conflict for the artist since I've seen some music artists sell out to their fans. A painter on the other hand isn't as famous but could behave that way and I would believe it. In fact, it would be very interesting. Because art is beauty at the art of the beholder. Imagine an artist paint on subjects people consider offensive only to have an art critic to buy his or her work of art because it is brilliant. But it brings shame on her or his family. The arist becomes famous while the family lives in shame.
    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)

  8. #8
    I agree the term 'conflict' can be a little bit ambiguous, a little vague.

    Try this: Every story is about the main character(s) wanting something they cannot have easily.



  9. #9
    Here's another definition. I looked up a similar definition. Is this agreeable to some of you or disagreeable?:

    To understand conflict in drama is to know what characters want and why they are having a hard time getting it.

    Dunne, Will. Character, Scene, and Story (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) (p. 87 University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
    However, character objectives and motivations can turn anything into a problem. It is the objective that defines what the problem is and the motivation that determines how urgently it must be addressed.

    Dunne, Will. Character, Scene, and Story (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) (p. 88. University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
    The writer gives the example of someone hungry. It becomes urgent since there is no food.
    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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