1. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    Source of Conflict

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Honorius, Jan 28, 2011.

    So, I'm in need of some help here. I'm working on a story, but I'm having some trouble putting together a conflict. I've got characters, setting, and the world, but not a conflict.

    (This paragraph is mostly description of the world. Thought it might be helpful, but not necessary) Now, my story is a modern fantasy, centering around the idea that the wizards/magicians/whatever are trained in student teacher pairs. New magicians must learn from teachers, and teachers must have a student. At least one, and no more than three. That way, the wizard population will not decrease, but is unlikely to significantly increase either. Also, teachers may not have family for students (to prevent the creation of unequally powerful clans). No organizations are made either. Magicians are generally independent of each other besides basic friendships, associations, and research. The magic system is both fairly simple and complex at the same time, so i wont go into much detail there, but magicians generally specialize in a single magic skill set either developed by themselves, or is an advanced form of their teachers techniques.

    So, I've got a bunch of characters designs lined up, and most any of them could be antagonists as easily as protagonists with a simple emotional shift.

    Now i'm stuck with what kind of conflict to use. I'd rather not have any specific ideas right now, but more general things like a hunt for an object or stopping a serial killer. I can figure out some things by myself, but you guys are just a wealth of ideas that I'll never think of, so I'd really love your help.
     
  2. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    I think the conflict is evident in the details of your system. You say that they need to restrict their numbers so they are not ubiqutious, yet have enough so that they remain. Why not then, have a magician arise who wants to challenge this dogmatic view and achieve great power by seperating the mentor-protege relationship and instead taking an entire slew of young, impressionable magicians underneath his wing?

    Since other magicians don't really associate with one another, and are more or less independent, he would have a powerful army and no one to really challenge him. Unless the magicians can somehow shirk their dogmatic views and band together to combine their powers. But the problem could be that more magicians usurping the magic in any given point of origin can nullify its effects, which is why the two to three magician limit is integral. Somehow, this evil wizard managed to figure out how to control the magic enough to allow his entire army to harness it. Also, this wizard could have went Lord Sidious on everyone and killed all of the teachers, so all that remains are inexperienced pupils.

    When in doubt, your conflict is already in your world. Even your magic system could provide room for conflict.
     
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  3. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    "...Also, teachers may not have family for students..."

    "May not", but not "can not".

    I'm going to explore this - not to be contrary to your idea, but simply for the sake of brainstorming.

    What if a mage has a child who is very promising? I imagine that the mage would give the child little tips and bits of advice. You could explore the boundary between this and outright teaching.

    And who would teach the child? Certainly not someone the mage distrusts. In that way, maybe different schools of thought or political clicks reinforce themselves - even if they do not formally organize. Or, maybe the child DOES go to a foe of the parent out of rebelliousness or somesuch (maybe foe is a more moral center than the parent).

    And how distant a relative would trigger the "no relatives" rule? And would different mages disagree? ("He can't teach her! She's a second cousin." "So? Second cousins are fine. It's first cousins that are bad.")

    For your first few chapters, maybe delve into little conflicts like these. Then, once the characters are established, introduce the big plot.

    -Frank
     
  4. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I was just about to suggest the same idea.

    A dad sees that his son is some kind of great wizard and knows that no one can teach him properly, maybe because something terrible will happen. This pits the father and son against the guild. Of course, the father son bond proves to be worth it in the end.

    Better yet....maybe it doesn't and the story could be about nepotism.
     
  5. nzric
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    nzric Active Member

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    I guess if there's a restriction to the students, the teachers will be very picky about who they choose to hand on their lineage. So how about a student who gets a taste of the magic and refuses to be "rejected". The student either goes from teacher to teacher, getting magic of different styles and disobeying the order of things, and/or starts picking off the existing students.

    Or, how about twist it and say part of the magic system is that it must be handed down, e.g. if you don't pass it on it drives you insane. There's a magician who refuses to take students and slowly becomes more and more insane as his magic becomes more powerful.
     
  6. jaywriting
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    jaywriting Member

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    I suggest you look at things that people fight over in the real world and modify them to apply to your story. Natural resources: Perhaps there is a rare crystal needed to power spells that everyone wants. Land: Two wizards want to build a tower on the same hill. Idealogy: Two schools of wizardry both claim the one "true" path to knowledge. Status: Who is a greatest wizard of them all? Love: Two young wizards both fall in love with the same girl.
    Conflict is all around us, just borrow some and put it in your story.
     
  7. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    * Murder mystery - who killed the wizard in the closed room?
    * Politics - who decides which students get referred to the best teachers? And how much do they ask in bribes?
    * Rivalry - two wizards compete for the same prestigious job.
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Here are some ideas:

    1. A group of 2-3 students discover that their mentor wizard is a serial killer, but they can't expose the truth because some horrible punishment would await them for "stirring up lies." They have to discover and document the evidence without being killed themselves.

    2. One of the wizards in a group (student or teacher) is evil, but no one knows who it is.

    3. This one is pettier, but if several students are vying for a teacher or several teachers want the same student, it could create tension. Subplot only, in my recommendation.

    4. Conspiracy among the wizard teachers...you could have fun with this one....so many ways to go

    5. MC is a wizard and there is a conspiracy among the students

    6. Go-on-a-journey style fantasy (if you go this route, please do not rip off of LOTR; this is a huge turnoff. I love the series, but it's been written already.)

    7. Evil forces have taken over and wizards must defeat them; said evil forces are only allowing a new, more restricted type of magic to be taught, so people don't have the means to defeat said powers; a group of students (and maybe a teacher, but this is optional) have to self-teach and practice secretly to learn what's needed to defeat the conquerors.

    Hope that helps at all.
     
  9. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    Thank you all so much! You guys are all so wonderful. This is where the writingforums really shines. There are just so many great minds with such wonderful ideas. It's why I love this site.

    These ideas are all terrific, and are going to help so much. Really thank you. And if you have any other ideas, please do share. Everything and anything is helpful and you guys are wonderful.
     
  10. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Generaly speaking, what are you writing? Short Story or a Novel?

    Also, do you want a violent peice of work, or a mostly peaceful peice?
     
  11. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    While I really really want to make a novel of it, it will likely start as a series of short stories about individual scenes and only generally following the plot. I'm working my way up to novella level, and then novels.

    And I'm really striving for the kind of balance that leans towards violence, but doesn't need explosions to be interesting. So fire, death, and explosions are all good, but I can't have a story with just that, there's gotta be drama, politics, relationships and connections between characters. Of course, a lot of that simply has to do with my own writing technique and application of characters and setting to the plot.
     
  12. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    In order to defeat the heretic, the others must band together, thus becoming more like him!

    Hmm, maybe they re-discover why their tradition imposes isolation. Maybe they interfere with each other's powers, or cause pain. This is immediately noticed with the mature wizards, but only just beginning to develop with the student class.
     
  13. Wasp
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    What If It Is A Series Like H P Or Something Where A Young Wizard Enters The Magic World Then Tries To Find Out Why These Rules Are In Place And The Tradition Could Be Some Ancient Rule Or Curse Put In By An Old Powerful Wizard-King Of Sorts To Stop Wizards From Combining Their Powers And Dethroning Him. A Wizard Who Breaks Away From These Rules Could Be Deemed As Some Evil Figure, Maybe Even Murderer And Children Wizard Kidnapper, But It Is Later Found Out That He Is A "Good Guy" Who Wants to Help Wizard Kind. The Hero Wizard Then Helps Change The Tradition (Maybe By Defeating This Old Wizard King Somehow?) And By The End Of The First Book (If It's A Series), Wizards Are Working Together Again (A World Changing Plot Move) (Sort Of Like How In Percy Jackson And The Olympians, He Makes The Camp Accept The Children Of Hades And Minor Gods, Changing The Time Old Tradition For The Better).
     

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