1. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    Creating a Conflict: War too cliché?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by stampman, Dec 13, 2015.

    I've built up my fantasy world, and have created a cast of main characters for my story to follow. There is a major prejudice in my world, between the various cultures, for various reasons. But that needs to be a staple that slowly gets resolved over the course of history, not a main book focus. I was thinking a war, or the nations being on the brink of war, would be a good conflict, but I feel as though its been done to death. Unlike most fantasies there's no real clear good and bad here. Both have perfectly valid reasons, as well as serious flaws. My inspiration for this is the Elder Scrolls series. Anyways, is this a decent idea? Or do you have any other ideas for a conflict in a fantasy setting?
     
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  2. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure if it works in your set up or if there is a better idea waiting to be said.

    I just think that you should not avoid a story point because it has been done before.

    Love, War, Money, and Power. Countless stories have used these are the core motivation, because they are what most people want. I would focus more on what you do mildly different than what you have in common. Taking people on the brink of war but focusing on a different facet of why may still sound cliche but it can be good.

    I mean think of it this way. Have you ever heard of a grand epic happening over Bananas? No of course not! Because being unique doesn't instantly make it clever.
     
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  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Just made my day! :cheerleader:
     
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  4. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just going to mention the banana wars.
     
  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol. Sometimes tells me I am never going to live down the fact I forgot about about the Banana Wars. At least I didn't forgot about the Carrot Games! lol
     
  6. novemberjuliet
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    novemberjuliet Member

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    Internal power struggles play out as good conflicts when right or wrong aren't necessarily clear. If one group or nation politically overpowers the other without a conflict but tensions rise, there can be plenty of conflict without a full blown war. The fact the conflict isn't overt can add to the complexity of the conflict at times.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I too am writing a fantasy inspired by The Elder Scrolls. :D Badass series, it is. A war is very much a staple in fantasy. Sometimes it happens in the background, sometimes it's the main plot itself. There's nothing inheritently bad about writing a fantasy novel where your characters go to war. That's one of the many aspects of the human condition: sometimes relations deteriorate to the point where members of two or more countries decide that war is the only course of action. Is there a lot of war in fantasy novels, of course there are. Is it bad, perse? No. People clearly dig reading books where a bunch of people try to kill each other using swords and/or magic while riding magical beasties. :p

    If you want a conflict that isn't a war, you can do a conflict over whatever prejudice (racial, religious, whatever) exists in your story. Think, for example, the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. No war broke out, but there was plenty of racial tension and violence that broke out. Or the Troubles of Northern Ireland. No full-scale Irish on Irish civil war (as there was in the 1920s), but there was a lot of heavy conflict going on.

    I could go on and on, but yes, that's one idea you can use if you don't feel comfortable writing about a full-scaled war with armies marching to battle/assassins striking from the shadows/political intrigue.
     
  8. John the ninja
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    John the ninja New Member

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    My personal opinion is, I *LOVE* books where war is the main focus. I personally don't enjoy books where the focus is on people's experiences of the war around them. I may be the minority, but if a book has war as the central theme, I will usually enjoy it

    Granted, it's not easy to write about dozens of battles in great detail. It's a lot easier to write about how people respond to the war.
     
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  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You maaaay want to stay away from my fantasy, then. :p It's less to do with actual battles (as I don't do that kind of chaotic stuff well) and more to do with civilians trying to survive while the world erupts into war all around them.
     
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  10. John the ninja
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    John the ninja New Member

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    You are correct, and that is why it's hard for me to find books that I like.

    There is a table top game from Games Workshop called "Warhammer". They have a lot of books, and a lot of them are very war driven.

    But other than that, it's very very very very difficult for me to find the kind of book that I like :(

    If you know of any, please list a few
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You can try the Jeff Shaara books. While they're 100% not fantasy novels, they do focus on the battles and action scenes.

    Have you tried Game of Thrones?
     
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  12. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    There's been war and prejudice in the world ever since one of the earliest Australopithecus rubbed a fellow one the wrong way. You just need to make it "logical". ;)
     
  13. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    War will never become cliché because :
    War, war never changes.

    Certain approaches to the idea may become overused, but there's a reason things become that popular. It's because it works. War is a political manifestation of our basic human instincts. Greed, lust for power, etc. War can affect people of any background and resonates with many readers as a result. It can be simultaneously glorious, heartwarming, and terrifying. Most importantly, it's ambiguous. There is no obvious "good side", leaving an ideological dilemma that the reader is prompted to solve.

    As an aside, don't build your characters before building your universe. Bending the universe to fit a character's story can often lead to plot holes.
     
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  14. Annihilation
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    Annihilation Active Member

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    Interesting that war seems to stem from fantasy novels. I was doing a lot of thinking before I started my current WIP novel and came to the conclusion that war is necessary in my book.

    But instead of fighting countries there is this occult that is of ethereal travel practices and, well- things just get deeper from there.

    My inspiration? Mastodon's concept albums!
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Aside from Banana wars, wars fought over food shortages can still be used though. Wars have been fought over unique things though sometimes. I remember the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer was trying to get a Miss America pageant constestant, to win and he asked her a series of questions. One of the questions he asked in his words, was "If you were Miss America, and the U.S. was on the brink of a nuclear war, and the only way the conflict could be averted was if agree to sleep with the enemy's leader, what would you do?"

    Now it sounds like a pretty dumb reason for a national leader to start a war, but what if that were to actually happen in a serious thriller story. If the leader of a nuclear superpower country that was a dictatorship, actually made such a demand, in a reality, it could create a lot of suspense for a fiction story.

    I am just saying that sometimes the most silly reasons to go war, can also be the most frightening if a dictator were to actually do that.
     
  16. Simpson17866
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    I love what Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Disney's Pocahontas did: established that war was the antagonist and that the warmongers in both groups, despite being completely convinced that they were each others' enemy, were actually on the same side in wanting to make both groups fight to the death:

    The warmonger on one side attacks the innocent/s on the second side.

    The warmonger on the second side uses this attack to make the innocents on the second side think that there are no innocents on the first side.

    The warmonger and the innocents on the second side attack the innocents on the first side.

    The warmonger from the first side uses this retaliation to retroactively justify his original attack and gain support for more attacks against the second side ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2015
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  17. dreamca7cher
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    dreamca7cher New Member

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    It's more about how the adversaries go about war, and the people it will effect that matters most. What I find cliche is the typical villain who wants world domination. An interesting scenario would be to keep it grounded and force a change in political stance, just like the U.S Civil War. Create a scenario where there's something at stake for both sides, and if one loses they would have to surrender their way of life. The side that would be considered extremist, give them a backstory and ingrained values that make them have a conviction behind why they do what they do. Maybe there's a bit of oppression and refugees are escaping from them, and it's creating concern. But overall a grounded approach with suspense would be prevent it from being cliche or typical.
     
  18. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    I've included several extremist groups, on both sides and some in the middle as a "true chaos" element. These extremists are retaliating against their perceived enemies, and the guerilla war has gotten so bad that the citizens of both sides are calling for war in order to curb the violence.
     
  19. Fighting Kentuckian
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    Fighting Kentuckian New Member

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    If you have people at each others throats and heavy prejudices in your world, war will have to happen at some point. That or some type of civil strife movement to eliminate the discrimination. There are plenty of wars in fantasies, because, if it hasn't already been said, just remember, "War, war never changes." :bigwink:
     
  20. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    Haha thank you, Mr Perlman. And there will be a war, I just was hesitant to make it the center stage in my stories.
     
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  21. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    If you are ever contemplating whether your cause of war is just, remember that a war over which side of a hard-boiled egg to open happened, and if you ever have doubt whether war is the right way to go, look at the civilizations of ancient human history. You are good to go.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, but there's the Irish potato famine...
     
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  23. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Funny side note. I once wrote a short story about a girl that went on a rampage because someone burned down her favorite fruit stand. Everyone hated it, based on the premise they didn't consider her actions justified since all that was lost was a fruit stand.
     
  24. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    War is the ultimate outcome of politics and/or the serious lack of good politics. War has its reasons and they tend to be extremely versatile. So if you put it in your story, lay down the reasons as well. Figure the history that led into this.

    Making few important powerplayers for this is good. Make them be in the center of all of that. Saying "this country just invaded the other one for its resources" isn't that great.
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just for the record, IMHO, all reasons to go to war are silly... okay, downright dumb... in the real world, anyway. If one digs deep enough, there's always some rich person looking to get richer by sending others to their deaths. It's always been like that.

    It's the surface reasons, the ones the public are allowed to know (freedom being the most quoted these days) that make war seem like a good idea.
     

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