19 October, 2011

Don't Play Nice

Writer's Wednesday!!!

In Enigma's song "The Rivers of Belief," the lyrics say "If you believe in light, it's because of obscurity.  If you believe in joy, it's because of sadness.  And if you believe in God, it's because of the devil."

Opposing forces create conflict.  Conflict raises tension.  Tension invokes an emotional response.  Emotional responses separate bad writing from good writing.  If you've ever teared up during a Budweiser Super Bowl ad with a Clydesdale, you know what I'm talking about even if you don't know you know it.  Anything you write means more when there's risk involved.

Try to see how long you can keep the opposing forces separate, but affecting one another through their actions.  This not only escalates the tension, but builds a great amount of anticipation for their inevitable meeting.  (brilliant example: "Heat" directed by Michael Mann)  Constant bombardment of combat involving the opposing forces can be entertaining, but every direct contact releases that tension and it can be difficult to recreate.

Also be aware of easy, trite, random, or overused resolutions.  They not only invalidate your conflict and writing up to that point, but they also condemn your soul to an eternity of having your elbows banged up against the corner of your desk.  The resolution must come from your main character, demonstrate real growth, and be so organic to your story that everyone will know exactly what story everyone else is talking about just on the briefest of mentions.  (except lame random ones like falling frogs)

In real life, we learn and grow from our conflicts.  Your characters should, too.  If your character is not undeniably changed after overcoming the conflict he/her/they faced, then the conflict wasn't big enough or you cheated on the resolution.  Most people avoid conflict because of a fear of the change that must come from learning and growing.  This can be a very natural and sympathetic conflict for your character to overcome before the final conflict - Refusing to change.

There are as many different ways to create and resolve conflicts as there are people, forces, and ideals.  This post is meant more as a tip to make sure you have conflict.  See how much you can throw at your character before they snap.  Really test his/her/their metal.  The easier you are on them, the harder it will be for readers to care.

Does anyone out there have a favorite story that didn't have conflict?  Anyone?  Anyone?

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