1. FoxyMomma
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    FoxyMomma Contributing Member

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    Conflict or not....that is the question...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FoxyMomma, Apr 18, 2008.

    I wrote a short young lit story for my creative writing class. It's about a 10 yr old boy and his family going for a balloon ride. It's simple and sweet. During critiques, the only thing I got back was "where's the conflict". There isn't one. I don't want to scare 8, 9, 10 yr olds away from ballooning. This is more to lure them in, get them interested. My grade was even counted off for not having conflict. I asked the prof if I was supposed to set the balloon on fire and send them streaming from the sky.

    So, my question is...should there be conflict in a story geared toward young kids. My intention is to entertain and educate, not scare the bee-jeezus outta these poor kids.
     
  2. (Mark)
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    (Mark) Contributing Member

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    Conflict doesn't necessarily have to be physical. You can have conflict between characters, or between man and nature. You could have the 10-year-old be scared of heights, and then the balloon ride with his family helps him overcome that?
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Conflict is an essential element of plot. As Mark pointed out, conflict need not be physical or adversarial. Conflict can arise, for instance in a child's fears, and meeting those fears head on. Any new experience holds a degree of apprehension.

    Conflict might also come about from a difficult choice. For example, he might have made big, secret plans with his friends for that day, and felt torn between a promise made to them and the promise of an exciting adventure.

    If your piece is to entice young people to open their minds to the pleaures of ballooning or other unusual pastimes, why not have your main characters experience the doubts that you expect the readers to have - that it might be dangerous, or uncomfortable, or expensive, and resolve those concerns in the course of the story.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good observations/advice... and i'm sure that's what your teacher meant...
     
  5. Michael Davis
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    Michael Davis Member

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    Even ten year olds have conflicts. Should they bend to peer pressure and do drugs, should she do what the boys want just to be popular, why do the kids make fun of me cause I talk different (that one happen to me as a southerner moving into a northern town, with a lot of fist fights with bullies). There are still conflicts, there just different.
     
  6. silverfrost
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    silverfrost Member

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    Yeah, this is true. You could even take a 10-year-old perspective of something like, "Mom wouldn't let me have ice cream and it was the worst thing in the world." :p That sounds lame, I guess, but it could blossom into something more. Maybe all his friends could have it, so there was pressure to fit in, etc.
     
  7. nburwell
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    nburwell Senior Member

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    Conflict doesn't have to be scary, either. Like silverfrost said, "mom wouldn't let me have ice cream" and then have that escalate to something greater, such as peer pressure. You can think of conflict as "friction" in the story as well; especially for younger readers. It doesn't have to be as powerful as lighting the balloon on fire or killing a member of the family, it can be much simpler, such as hearing bad news, seeing a sight from the balloon that he didn't like and he talked to his mom for reassurance, or maybe something as simple as being scared in the balloon but then getting over his fear once he realizes that it's not as scary as he thought it was. Conflict should always move the story along and should, ideally, teach us something about the character. When writing for younger readers, it is more a matter of getting the message across with less mechanics, but not losing the flow of the story while you do it.

    ~Natalie
     

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