1. paniccord
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    paniccord New Member

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    plot and conflict

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by paniccord, Mar 20, 2016.

    So I've been working on this project. There's a lot of character development and I'm liking the idea of the story. However, I just don't feel I have enough conflict yet. I was just wondering if anyone has any tips on creating conflict in a story or how they would recommend I proceed. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. NomNomKing123
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    NomNomKing123 New Member

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    I think you've given way too little plot info.

    What type of story is it? Fantasy? Drama? Comedy? Science Fiction?

    What time period is it set? Is it a medieval fantasy? A Sci-Fi space war? A courtroom drama? A modern romantic tale?

    What do you already have? Romantically, is there possibly a love triangle or two separated lovers? Could there be another group of people trying to undermine the protagonist (aside from the main conflict)? One group of people does something really bad so the other people have to step in and stop them? Halfway through the story does a friend betray our hero?

    You've given us very little plot info, so i don't want to give you tips on writing romantic fiction when you're actually writing an epic fantasy saga.
    Hopefully you already know your genre/time period, and if you don't have that, i think you need to take a step back and figure out what type of story you want to write.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Details! Details!
     
  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've mentioned having a lot of character development. Good. So what is there in the protagonist's past that can come around and bite him in the butt? All kinds of potential for conflict there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
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  5. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    I'm going to word my response as stereotypically hard-to-decipher sage advice.

    ~ Character drives plot. Plot changes character. In this sense, grasshopper, character and plot are yin and yang to each another.

    ~ Plot is born from a character with an inability to obtain the desired. This is the start of plot, but it is not the end of plot; plot ends when the character is complete.

    ~ Conflict is the agent of change. You only need as much as is necessary to change the character and no more. Extraneous conflict will bore the reader.

    ~ The character will tell you what conflict he needs. If he does not tell you, it's because you have not asked.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't remember who first said it, or if I'm quoting it correctly, but something like: First, chase your character up a tree. Then throw rocks at him.

    In other words, figure out what will make things unpleasant for your character and then make things even MORE unpleasant.
     
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  7. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Everybody wants something, but life rarely allows them to attain it easily. Conflict arises from these facts. Conflict can be intensified by introducing two opposing desires and making the main character choose between them at the climax of the story. Make them choose between big things: religion or family, wealth or morality, spouse or lover.
     
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  8. paniccord
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    paniccord New Member

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    It's set modern day on a college campus. Basically, it's about a girl who keeps discovering watermelons showing up on her porch and uncovers who leaves them there. Turns out they are left there by this boy who has a crush on her who also happens to have asperger's. I want it to proceed so that his ultimate objective is to be in a relationship with her. I guess the conflict is that she is a lesbian with a girlfriend. However, I just feel that there isn't enough drama or action in the plot and I'm trying to figure out how my character would behave in this situation. So I have the main plotline, but I'm looking for something else, a climactic scene, a stronger objective, something for more and I just don't know how to create that.
     
  9. Guttersnipe
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    Guttersnipe Member

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    Throw in a self-styled protector for the girl who figures it out first and tries to dissuade the guy and misdirect the girl. You can make him as well-meaning or as nasty as necessary.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you've got a lovely set-up for a character-driven piece, but maybe need to look at character growth? And probably also your intended audience - the sort of growth you expect will be different based on whom you're writing for.

    Like, if this is for an adult audience and your writing is strong enough for a "literary" piece, you may want the MC to come to some quiet realizations about herself and her relationship with her mother or her girlfriend or whatever. It could actually be kind of an interesting feminist piece, looking at how women are often expected to nurture others, especially others with challenges, when maybe they actually need to be nurtured themselves. If you're aiming at an MG audience (probably not, given the ages) you'd want the character to learn to be a better person somehow. Maybe at first she's embarrassed/annoyed and then befriends the autistic kid. If you're looking YA, again the age isn't quite right, but you could have a slightly more subtle moral message/character growth, and maybe the character arc could involve the MC accepting her own differences through accepting someone else's, or something. If you're aiming at NA - you'll need to throw in an emotionally controlling MMA fighter... :rolleyes:

    Anyway, the point is that you may not need a whole lot more external conflict, but you should probably introduce something internal. What does the character learn/overcome/understand through the course of the book?

    (And if I can add - be aware of the risk of using the autistic kid as a sort of tool for the MC's character growth, without having any growth of his own. It's challenging/risky to write a non-neurotypical character - for every reader who's yelling that we need more representation of diversity in fiction, there's another waiting to skewer any representations that don't perfectly match his or her own perceptions - but if you're up for it, it would be really interesting to see the autistic kid's POV as well in order to show character growth there, as well. It would make him seem less of a 'magical handicapped person' who exists only to promote the interests of the neurotypical MC...)

    Ooops - on re-read, please substitute "Aspergers" for "autistic".

    ETA: And I also realize you haven't mentioned a length for the project. If you're looking at a short story or even a short novella, you may have enough plot already. Just figure out a resolution - does the MC totally stress about how to explain her relationship to the kid with Autism, and then when she finally talks to him she finds out he knew all along that it was hopeless for him, but wanted to make the gesture anyway? That might be enough for a shorter piece, especially if you're aiming for 'literary'.
     
  11. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you wanted to risk getting into trouble with the folks @BayView mentions, the ones who are
    you could do something interesting with how things get difficult because events aren't going the way the kid with Asperger's planned them out.

    Take me out and shoot me, but it's a fact: I had a car mechanic with Asperger's and I stopped going to him because I couldn't stand him lecturing me about How It Was Supposed to Be. Last time I went to him, he fixed my brakes as requested. But within a few blocks of the shop, I started hearing a fapping noise under the hood. I drove back and asked him what it was. Oh, he said, that was a loose fan belt that needed to be replaced. Well, why hadn't he told me that while my car was in his shop? "I have Asperger's," he says proudly, "and I do everything by the book. If a customer doesn't mention a problem, I won't run up the price by fixing it. I figured you'd heard that noise already, and if you wanted me to fix it, you would have said something about it." No, I hadn't heard it, not until a few minutes before. Whereupon he called me a liar, accused me of trying to get free work out of him, and threw in some more about how his condition makes him do everything as it should be done, right down the line. And all I wanted was a price on getting it repaired . . .

    Then there's the Aspy kid across the street. Pleasant boy, very sociable. In fact, he can be too sociable. He'll walk right into your house and raid your refrigerator if you don't keep the doors locked--- which a lot of people around here don't. There's been less of this cheerful raiding since he's moved into middle school, but it's a habit you can keep in mind for your character.

    So in your story, just because the kid has a nontypical neurological function and pulls this cute stunt with the watermelons doesn't mean he can't make a pest of himself. I could see a kid in his situation being utterly convinced that since his crush is a girl and he loves her, she must automatically love him back. He's going to find it very hard to cope with feeling rejected for another girl, or even believing he could be rejected for another girl. And if he's anything like my erstwhile car mechanic, he won't take it lying down.

    And suppose Crush Girl humors him a little, just to be nice, and Ms. Lesbian Lover gets jealous, and . . .

    You've got all sorts of potential conflict going here!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  12. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    It sounds like the story would be more interesting from the boy's perspective, since he is the only one in your synopsis who seems to have a burning desire. He has a crush on the girl, but he has aspergers. It gets worse. She's also a lesbian, so he pretty much has no chance. THAT is interesting to me. I can see a very interesting character piece in which he learns to interact with the girl and maybe wins some level of affection but ultimately has to accept her for who she is: someone who simply will never reciprocate his love.

    Until your MC has a burning desire that, if thwarted, will have a significant negative effect on her, then you will be hard-pressed to develop an interesting story.

    As others have mentioned, perhaps your MC is in love with a girl who, in turn does not reciprocate. Maybe she isn't gay. Who knows?

    Alternatively, perhaps your MC ends up meeting and falling for the guy with aspergers. This is a problem because she is in a lesbian relationship. She finds herself torn between her new heterosexual feelings and her current girlfriend.

    The spectrum of developmental disorders is quite broad and encompasses any range of disability from mild to severe. It may be within reason that this boy with asperger's is highly-functioning and possesses the capability to be a meaningful relationship. This is certainly the case with autism, a related condition.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe that people with Asperger's usually function relatively normally in society--that there may be social issues, but it wouldn't be the least bit surprising for someone with Asperger's to be in a long-term relationship, to hold a demanding job, and so on.
     

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