1. shambles
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    shambles Member

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    I need help coming up with a conflict

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by shambles, Feb 24, 2016.

    So, my story is basically about an impoverished mill town on a river. It's divided into two distinct areas. The north side is middle class, white, average American. The south side is impoverished, people of color, crime plagued area.

    I have some smaller conflicts planned out:
    *MC's alcoholic mother
    *romance between MC and neighbor
    *a friend's teen pregnancy
    *a friend's beating
    *a boy from the community who was either killed or committed suicide
    *classism and racism between the communities

    What I need help with is coming up with a conflict central to the MC that builds throughout the text, has a climax, and then is resolved.

    Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance!
     
  2. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you have so much conflict going on already, perhaps you feel that nothing short of the zombie apocalypse will stand out against the roiling turmoil.

    Is this a YA novel? If it is, maybe you could take the general background of the social divide (Part A) and mix it with one or two only from Part B, and you'd have all the conflict anyone would desire.

    If it's a regular adult novel you can indulge in a few more subplots. But tie them all in to your setting and its ethos. Like, who is the girl pregnant by? One of the "wrong" kind of guys? How does that affect the MC? (Whatever you do, it all has to affect the MC.) Is he forced in some way to interact with the opposing community? What happens? Does he manage to make things worse? Or better? What is his or her opinion of the people in the other community? Does that change in the course of the story? Who, if anyone, is hurt or offended in the process?

    Above all, what does this character want, and what's keeping him from getting it? There's your major conflict.
     
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  3. Red Herring
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    Red Herring Member

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    I think it's just a matter of dealing with an imbalance that your character, subconsciously or consciously, desires to fix; either within himself or within the world he/she lives in. It seems like the main conflict is the social inequality that exists in that world and you can use those smaller conflicts to either help or hinder him from achieving that goal.

    In the end it's just a matter of what imbalance your character wants to fix that is central to him/her, or what guides him/her subconsciously. The climax and resolution will come from that imbalance facing its greatest hinderance and its conclusion, good or bad. Whichever conflict you choose to motivate your character changes the overall story, if it is your MC that is driving the story. If you ask me, I think your main conflict should be the social inequality since that is a conflict that will effect essentially every character that lives in that world. Then it's just a matter of delving into that conflict. Why is your motivated by that imbalance? What does the MC want the world to be? Who benefits from this societal structure? Is it something he can change? What does the MC have to do to change that imbalance?

    But I don't know if that's the story you want to tell. Maybe you just want the social divide as a backdrop for your story, instead of wanting to tell a political revolution. Whatever you choose as the imbalance your character desires to fix will influence your story. You could choose the alcohol mother as the main conflict that drives the character, or maybe it's the shaky(lets suppose) relationship with his neighbour.

    So I guess in short, like Catrin Lewis asked, what does your character? That desire will help guide the story.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your MC from the south side of town inherits a house in the north side of town, and decides to move in, thus becoming the first nonwhite in a white neighborhood.
     
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  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Who the hell's the MC? I can't really answer that if it's supposed relate to the character without knowing the character. I like @ChickenFreak's suggestion though, in the abstract. Honestly, I think it's going to have to tie in to those themes you identified otherswise they'll be to much going on, I feel. And this is coming from someone who likes a lot going on.
     
  6. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    The Main Character?
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Impoverished, nonwhite MC inherits a house from a classist, racist white?
     
  8. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I mean what is he like? What is his background? What are his family like? What is his main goal in life? What are his fears?
     
  9. shambles
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    shambles Member

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    That's a really good idea! I think I'll make the imbalance the main conflict in my story. Maybe the MC's goal will be to escape poverty through being the first in her family to go to college. What do you think of that?
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The town was described as classist and racist. That doesn't require that every single individual follow suit. And inheritance doesn't require the conscious intention of a will--there are probably some default-heir chains that could get you there starting with an across-town marriage a generation or three ago, even if the chain starts with a bigot.

    However, the house could be a tax sale, a short sale, or just a sale. I preferred the inheritance because it's sudden, without requiring a lot of backstory.
     
  11. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Isn't it obvious who got her pregnant? The boy who died! Her brother found out that she had been seeing that dirty Hispanic guy and he went to get him. Of course there was a big fight and the brother got beat up pretty bad but he still killed him in the end.

    Oh .. wait that's West Side Story
     
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  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait a minute. Wasn't the nice Puerto Rican girl seeing that dirty Polish guy? :supergrin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  13. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that would work only if you throw something at her to try to ruin her chances. Because unless your story is set decades and decades ago, nobody is going to stop her from going to college, there are so many colleges she could go to, and so many programs making it possible. And then you'd have to make us believe that anyone in the Other side of town would particularly care if this particular young woman went to college or not. But the college angle could certainly deepen the plot.
     
  14. shambles
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    shambles Member

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    Well, I know that for me, figuring out college was really difficult since nobody in my family had ever gone. So I was thinking that the main issue behind it would be that she feels responsible for everybody back home. She doesn't want to leave her mother to fend for herself and she doesn't want to leave her friend who gets pregnant because she wants to take care of her. But she knows that getting out of there would be her best chances of a better life. So it's more of an inner conflict than an outside force.
     
  15. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, I see. So the Big Divide would be more something she's internalized and has to break out of, rather than its being any other person actually standing in her way?
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    An internalized conflict works. Although I think there should be at least one antagonistic character, for realism's sake. Even if they're mundanely antagonistic and get over their issues. Even if they're somewhat in the background. Plus, their fun characters to write, I think.
     
  17. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Oh! I have an idea!

    Your MC could fall in love with a person of colour. This will bring to light the classism and discrimination, plus the social issues, PLUS the divides. This conflict alone can raise most of the issues you listed.

    OR, her pregnant friend could be inlove with a person of colour, and because she is supporting her pregnant friend, she too is stigmatized.

    Try taking some of your conflicts listed and put them together.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016

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