1. Admin
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    Person vs. Self - Can that be the whole thing?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Admin, Jul 2, 2013.

    Hello all!

    Sorry I haven't been around lately - life got busy and it hasn't not been busy for a long time. At any rate, I've been collecting ideas in this storage unit I call my brain, and have recently been attempting to write something as it has been a good long while since my last.. Writing... Thingy...

    Anyways, my question for you today is: is it possible to write a story where the conflict is completely person vs. self? And not only that, but where it's not so much a conflict as it is just complete and total introspection and metamorphosis of said person's personality and personhood? It's quite hard to explain, but I shall try. You see, the CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT portion of this story I want to transcribe revolves around a young man who was raised to be a douche-bag. Like, his parents were republicans, catholic, and white. So you can see where his moral and ethical views might have been at one point. However, he slowly but surely becomes a tid-bit more liberal and, in general, nice to people. Eventually there comes this point in his life where he dreams about a completely ambiguous girl, but this dream swaths him in intense vividness and emotion. Like, he literally FALLS IN LOVE with this girl from his dream. Now, if you believe in quantum mechanics and cosmic consciousness and all that mysticism, you'll understand why this may be significant. Because as he matures as a human being, his dreams begin to manifest themselves into his reality. So the eventual conclusion to the story is that, through his maturation and good intentions, he manifested (or simply found, who knows, right? It'll be ambiguous enough so the reader can skepticize) his soul-mate and lives happily ever after. The trouble is, there's no PLOT. Like, I have no idea what kind of conflict could be large enough to encompass a whole story. Sure, he'd grow apart from his family, and he may battle with his own reasoning at times. And I'm sure he might lose some friends along the way. But should there be a big bad guy or big bad thing to, for lack of a better word, fight?

    Any kind of idea or insight or friendly word would be greatly appreciated. Bear in mind I've been on hiatus from writing for, like, over a year now, so I'm a bit rusty.

    Thanks again guys! Cheers!
     
  2. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    You see, the CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT portion of this story I want to transcribe revolves around a young man who was raised to be a douche-bag. Like, his parents were republicans, catholic, and white.

    Don't think being those three things make you a douche, though the assumption that it does may need to cause a moment of introspection upon a liberal mind as well. There are plenty of liberals/socialists/conservatives/libertarians, and velociraptors who are douches.

    However, in tempering and changing his worldviews, he can find that he himself was an ass, and become a different person through his decisions. You don't need an actual villain for a story, though this obviously may be a bit short.
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think plot and conflict can be different things. I wouldn't consider what you described to be "plot" in the strictest sense because no events are happening, but it's certainly conflict. That being said, the solution seems to be simple... create some rudimentary plot. Perhaps its the first day of college/high school and said kid has to go through all the issues that come from that. And then as the months pass different things happen, and as the story moves on and on he slowly becomes more liberal... perhaps this can tie into other action events in a story.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I am assuming that you are using this as a kind of shorthand for other qualities you find offensive, but it suggests a rather immature thought process and a lack of critical thinking that will likely not serve you well as a writer. You need to look beyond labels to actual deeds.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Person versus self without a complicated outside plot is literary fiction. It is absolutely okay to have a greater emphasis on character development. That said, I agree with Ed --you need to be careful about how you develop this. Despite his parents being Republicans, that doesn't make them automatically evil in every way. Your character's transition and feelings are going to be complicated -- he's still going to love them and they him. (Unless you're adding in some sort of additional dysfunction.) There are many examples in the real world of people who evolved in just this way (minus the dream girl scenario), but they still love their parents and can appreciate their good qualities. The mother can go to church and say the rosary every day, while the son becomes an atheist, yet he can still respect that the church and its rituals are important to her and a big part of her life.

    As far as the girl in the dream -- it sounds complicated and could be difficult to pull off, but if you have a vision of it, then go for it. There are a lot of books that turn reality on its head.
     
  6. Admin
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    Admin Contributing Member

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    Guys, it was like, one in the morning. And I grew up like this kid. So I mean, calling him a doucher was kinda my sarcastic way of saying 'yeah, thinking being gay is wrong was kinda a lame move on my part.' :p

    The transformation portion of this little story revolves around the ideas around quantum mechanics, and how good, honest intentions lead to a better reality. This is because all localized consciousness is part of a singular collective which, through possibilities, chooses reality. Therefore, as people become more in-tune with themselves and with others, as this kid may as he becomes more accepting of those who are different from him and more charitable to those less fortunate, reality changes for the better. It's sorta like karma - the more bad you do, the more bad happens to you, and the more good you do, the more good happens to you.

    At any rate, it's not so much about all of that as I mainly just want some help figuring out what in the world could actually happen to him plot-wise that would help me start writing this thing.

    Thanks again for the help! :)
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really, it could be almost anything. Think of Holden in the Catcher in the Rye -- he's kicked out of his school, but that's not even that big of a deal for him. Try to find some other lit fic -- one I read recently is The Elegance of the Hedgehog, nothing really happens plot-wise to kick start anything other than a character meeting a new character or having a conversation with another character.

    It doesn't have to be that your character finds a dead body and needs to solve the mystery of who killed him while ruminating on his own life. He could start thinking about his own life or have an epiphany simply through a chance encounter or reading a newspaper article about, for example, someone dying -- to use your example about feelings toward gay people, maybe he reads an article about a gay person who is murdered, or the trial of a homophobic killer is in the news and that gets him to think about the issue, or he discovers a good friend is gay, or finds out his grandfather was gay -- the possibilities are endless.
     
  8. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Heck, he could be agonizing over paying bills, or making a shopping list in preparation for a party, or like the Sun Also Rises...drinking across Spain.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree you're talking literary fiction here. As to the catalyst, it wouldn't even have to be a single event - he could just start noticing things that niggle at his preconceived ideas. Maybe this dream girl is part of that - maybe she points out things that he saw but didn't notice, if you know what I mean. I don't understand quantum mechanics at all, but I kinda understand what you're describing with the dream girl - and I think that could be a really interesting bit of writing.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think Liz has the right idea, here, but I don't happen to think Catcher is a particularly good example because I didn't find it particularly transformational, and I sense that's what the OP is after. Some of my favorite transformational examples:

    A Christmas Carol - Dickens
    The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Alan Sillitoe (in fact, I would start with this story).
    To Serve Them All My Days - R.F. Delderfield
    Silas Marner - George Eliot
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're right, Ed. I thought about that point, exactly - that Holden doesn't really change. Catcher is just my go-to example for lit fic, because it's the only one I can usually think of that most people have read or at least have some familiarity with.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Never mind Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, the real conflict is within Bromden.
     

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