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  1. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Needs to happen but lacks conflict?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Smoke, Mar 4, 2011.

    Well, I found the name for this morning's writer's block. All three of the chunks I'm working on have the characters going off to do different things, they're important enough that I can't do them off-screen. (Rather if I did do them off-screen, I'd have "four people did stuff and this is the result.")

    What is a good angle of attack in this situation?




    One character is after a lost artifact, and he's looking for clues by borrowing a wizard's scrying pool. The wizard isn't there, but he's clearly reacting by causing the pool to focus on a different subject.

    The second character is also after the lost artifact, but he is dowsing for it in a likely place before going on to the second likely place. (He does find it, but isn't going to gloat over it immediately.)

    The third character is after some people, but has to wait for a premonition about where they are going to be. It would be a really short chunk if he didn't wax poetic about it, and possibly I could cut away that part.

    The fourth character is my Sue, and she's actually getting a break from anything earth-shattering.
     
  2. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    I'm not quite sure what you're asking for. How to write those scenes, or how to give them conflict?

    How about this; the first character you mentioned enters the room where the wizard keeps his scrying pool, and see something that shockes him. Then you switch scenes to the guy who is looking for the artifact. When he finds the artifact, you can switch back to the scryer and have a scene with his reaction. This does, however, depend on whether or not you want char 1 to know that char 2 finds the artifact.

    I don't know about the third scene, though. Is it important to show him waiting for the premonition? If you do write this scene, then you might consider making it seperate from the two others, and there should be something of importance in the scene (he gets the premonition, talks to some important people or such).

    You'll just have to brainstorm until you find what works for you :)
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do the characters get out of it? Conflict can be internal, things that cause growth.
     
  4. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I hate to jump around for less than 300 words. If it is short, it's from where he broke away from a conversation and I go back to having him angst about it.

    The first character only knows about the second finding the artifact only after giving up in looking for it. He's feeling mildly positive about the wizard being gone. The scenes the wizard shows him are variations on the way he's predicted to die, and it's old news, so I'm not sure what could be more shocking.

    To have the third run into anyone interesting would be either a red herring or watching someone important but ignored passed by. I think I'll handle his as a looking-back contrast when I re-establish where he is after the premonition.

    I guess what I'm asking is if there is actually an established storytelling method besides having a conversation, having a fight scene, or angsting through a task.
     
  5. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it a short story or novel?

    If the latter, you need to flesh it out and not rush. It feels like a lot is happening at the same time, which is fine, but you need to make sure it's not confusing for the reader.

    Are these sub-plots or part of the main storyline?
     
  6. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    My story will be as long as it needs to be. It's a fan-work, but in a category where multi-thousand word epics are common.

    Getting ahold of the artifact is simply because character one is feeling out of control and needs something to go right... now that his plans are crumbled and he has no clue on what to do next. It was pointed out that the artifact could be used against him.

    It's also that extra push of desperation to get him to the scrying pool because he's not going to be able to make new plans very effectively without perspective. To say that he's trying to navigate a 30-Xanatos-pileup is putting it mildly. (The original work set it up that way, and I'm working with it.) It also establishes that it's not going to be that easy to get the clues he needs.

    The other option is to have him hover uselessly while waiting for the Sue to hand him the answers, but he does not trust her. I preferred to throw something stupid in his path rather than having nothing to keep him busy.


    The second character is getting ahold of the artifact because of natural advantages. He's still a bit too hide-bound to believe that character one and character two are really the chosen ones.
     
  7. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    If you ever get stuck when trying to decide what your characters should do next, try this technique:

    1. What is the worst the thing can happen to the character at this time (aside from dying)?
    2. Make it happen.
    3. Figure out a way for the character to get out of it.
    4. Repeat as needed.
     
  8. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    There's the leverage! Thank you.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Why not just write the scenes in such a way that there's tension added? For example, the MC borrowing the wizard's gadget could have done so without the wizard's knowledge or permission, and could be paranoid about the wizard coming back.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If these events are necessary but boring, maybe it's a mistake to make them the focus of a scene - maybe they should be a side issue.

    For example, let's imagine that you need a character to get food poisoning at a specific restaurant. You don't want to write a really boring scene where the character goes in, eats dinner, and goes away. You also know that this character is, eventually, going to need to complete a tense negotiation with another character.

    So you combine the two - your character sees the other character walking into the restaurant, he follows him in, sits down at the other character's table, arrogantly takes a bite of his appetizer, and completes the negotiation. The scene is about the negotiation - plenty of conflict - and the setup for the food poisoning just goes along for the ride.

    Murder mysteries do this--sneaking important events in, concealed by showier events--all the time, but there's no reason why other fiction can't do it too.

    ChickenFreak
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    you can add conflict - a row with a parent, friend, brother or sister, even an arguement with a tree.
     
  12. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I did come up with something, but it was still flat. I decided that maybe he went to confront the wizard directly, but it follows the pattern of the source too well. (I think the term is "fixer Sue" when someone swoops in and removes the major conflict points of a story. The only interesting part is that it creates a bigger mess, but I don't want to have too big of an echo from the supposed-to-happen.)

    After deciding that, I got an idea for the conversation where the protagonist vents his frustrations at the Sue, and he explains exactly how his meeting with the wizard went. I wonder if that removes the need to show the conversation with the wizard?

    Or is it creating too much "protagonist goes off and does something mysterious?"
     
  13. fervish
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    fervish Senior Member

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    The exciting thing about writing fiction is finding a common thread as you work through the story. When you find something that links one thing to another or comes together in such a beautiful way even you didnt predict, youll run with it =) Just know why these events are important to your story and like VM80 said, dont rush things.
     

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