1. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    Tell me of conflict

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GoodTweetyBird, Aug 2, 2013.

    I have been told, no, I believe I read it somewhere that a good novel must have conflicts. So if there are two main characters, heroine and hero, do they both need conflicts? With each other or without? I certainly have some developing in my novel but don't want to overdo it.

    jh
     
  2. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Well if there's no conflict, what are we reading? A log of their lives? That's a good way to lose readers. We read novels because stuff happens -- another word for conflict.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's a hard one to define, although many writing tutorial books do.

    If you have a hero and heroine, it's probable that whatever conflict touches one of them will touch the other as well, even if it's just that one of them is miserable so the other one can't be happy either.

    It doesn't mean the two of them need to fight each other or anything (although this would certainly be conflict.) But they've got to come up against something that makes life difficult for them.

    If they meet each other, fall in love, get married, have kids, become King and Queen and live to a ripe old age without anything awkward happening to them, that's not much of a story, is it? It might be nice to live it, but anyone you tried to tell it to would end up dropping off the branch pretty quick.

    Something needs to be giving Mr and Mrs Hero a hard time. This can be another person who forces a love triangle onto them. Or it can be someone who wants one or both of them dead. Or they can lose their jobs and find themselves in very dire straits financially. Or one of them can have a terrible accident, or commit a crime. Or they can be perfectly happy together, and a war starts and they get caught up in it. One of them wants to do something the other one doesn't—like have children. One of them dies young and the other one has to find a way to go on.

    I'd say the one thing you need to watch out for is letting the conflicts work themselves out too easily. That can be disappointing to the reader. Really put those folks through the mill. It's always a good idea to leave them a little sadder and wiser at the end, even if your ending is a 'happy' one. They have learned life can be crap, even if they've overcome it!
     
  4. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    OK, I posed my question wrongly. I closed by saying I had some conflict developing but didn't want to overdo it so I should have asked "How much conflict is too much?"

    Apologies,

    jh
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any time one asks "how much is too much?", it's impossible to give a concrete answer. It depends on the story, the characters, the writer - some action books have one thing after another happening; some romances have one main conflict that is being dealt with. At some point, if the reader is either bored to tears or rolling their eyes in disbelief, you've hit the wrong 'quantity'.
     
  6. Lisztomania
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    Lisztomania Member

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    There becomes too much conflict when the conflicts veer off course to the direction you want to be heading in your novel.
     
  7. u.v.ray
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    u.v.ray Member

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    I believe the answer to this question lies in a line from the 1973 film Enter the Dragon...


    "It is like a finger pointing to the moon... Do not concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all the heaven's glory."
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Among the Cuban culture, when you ask someone how they're doing, the typical response is, "En la lucha," which means "In the fight/battle."

    Life is conflict, its just all about how it's presented.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  10. Jason Scarr
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    Jason Scarr New Member

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    A story always has a beginning, middle and end. I always thought that the beginning sets the scene. The middle introduces the problem/conflict. The end resolves this conflict/problem.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not quite that simple.
     
  12. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    Thank you sir!

    Great stuff at these links. The piece on mechanics is exactly what I have been wanting to see, and you made it so darn simple. Near the end you state "Tags using said or asked virtually disappear to the reader, and that is desirable."

    What a relief to read that sentence. I have been seriously fretting about that and it was taking way too much effort.

    Best Regards,

    John
     

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