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  1. GB reader

    GB reader Member

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    Does every story need a conflict?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GB reader, May 19, 2017 at 5:43 PM.

    I am very new to this. I have read a lot about writing both here and elsewhere. Conflict seams to be the thing that drives the story. I can see the logic in it, but there must be other ways to make a story interesting. I am at the moment trying to write a short (5000-6000 words) about a girls first kiss. I see no real way to get any real conflict into this, of course there are minor backlashes on the path but raising the stakes, constructing sub conflicts are things I can't get into this.

    Is it because the typ (romance) and the short format that I can't see how to make it conflict driven?
     
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short answer is yes. Every story needs conflict.

    I think what's happening here is that your definition of the word conflict is not wide enough to see that your story likely does have conflict and ample opportunity to add more.

    Conflict is just opposition to a goal. If your main character has a goal, and something is in his/her way, you have conflict.

    For a story of that length, I wouldn't worry too much about subplots and all that. Just focus on the big one. Ask yourself what your main character wants and what is standing in the way. If the answer is "nothing stands in the way of my character achieving his/her goal," then you need to change that. The core of storytelling is conflict.
     
  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Something Wicked this Way Comes. Contributor

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    While I am sure the majority would say yes.
    I for one don't believe that it is always necessary.
    Though it has a way of finding itself creeping
    in one way or another.

    For something relatively short such as you are speaking,
    the conflict (using the term lightly) would be in the feelings
    and emotions department. Such as being nervous and
    that sort of thing. So it would seem that conflict no matter
    how grand or minuscule, will always be present in a
    story. Just depends on what conflict means to you.

    Also conflict doesn't always have to be in the driver
    seat, characters or plot can drive if you want them to.

    Good luck. :supersmile:
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Active Member

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    To answer you overall question, "Does every story need a conflict," the answer is an unequivocal yes. Stories and conflicts are mutually inclusive. Without a conflict, you have nothing to write about.

    Having established that, I think you might be defining conflict a bit too narrowly. Conflict isn't limited to fistfights, car chases, gun shots, gorilla attacks, or political backstabbery. Your female MC would likely be struggling with inner conflict (what they used to call "Man vs Himself" in less inclusive times). Who does she kiss? Why does she want to have a kiss? What might happen if her attempts at kissing are rebuffed? Or accepted? What will her mother think? What will the rest of the kids on the playground think? What will the boy/girl she wants to kiss think? What will society (especially if it's a girl-girl kiss) think?

    You seemed to be aware of this:

    and you're probably right. These are minor conflicts, though these can easily become overblown in a childish mind that does not yet have adult problems. 5000-6000 words might be a lot for a story like this. I have a hard time envisioning a first-kiss culmination as being strong enough to justify that much narrative drag, but I'm sure it could be done. I would consider making the kiss the subplot with something else to drive it. I don't know what, you have to do your own legwork there, but the kiss setup could appear to a minor thing that eventually takes on a greater meaning in the end. Again, how and why that unfolds will be up to you.
     
    Rosacrvx and Lifeline like this.
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Is the girl worried about her first kiss? Is there something that is preventing her from being kissed? Those are examples of conflicts you could incorporate into your story. You should also read more romance stories to see how different writers handle conflict in romance.
     
  6. QualityPen

    QualityPen Member

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    "The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself."
    -William Faulkner
     
  7. GB reader

    GB reader Member

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    I am impressed, I post this, I go for my Friday swim/sauna evening and when I am back I find that within 30 minutes I have had good answers.
    Maybe I take 'conflict' to literally (several of You suggest that). And I have not read any romance stuff in 45 years.

    The MC interacts with four players the boy, an old neighbor, her two friends and her mother.
    There is no one actively trying to stop her.
    But you can say she has inner conflicts, she does not say the same things to all players, she leaves out details (no lies but she doesn't say everything), different details for the different players.

    Nothing of this is told by the narrator, only dialog show this.

    Example.
    She leaves out one single word of what her neighbor said to her when she later talks with the boy about that conversation. The observant reader is supposed to understand that she drops that specific word because she dares not implicitly ask the boy if he loves her.

    So must the 'conflict' be explicitly told, or is it enough to show that there [probably] exists a conflict.
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Something Wicked this Way Comes. Contributor

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    Showing works.
     
  9. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why are you trying to write romance "stuff" if you haven't read any in 45 years?

    If you're just writing for your own amusement, carry on, but if you're looking for an audience you should probably read some (ie. a lot) of contemporary romance and see what's currently selling/being read. A lot has changed in 45 years.
     
  10. GB reader

    GB reader Member

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    I love to read, I have read to many books.

    Not until 3 months ago I have ever written any fiction.

    About 5 years ago, I started to read a book about writing books (my daughter's course literature). After 10 or 15 pages I actually stopped. I did not want to know, I just want
    enjoy a good story, I was afraid that knowing more about writing would take away that joy.

    I have never even thought about past/present, POV, narrators 1:st or 3:e person, character arcs, you name it.

    I have managed to enjoy reading without any knowledge about the craft of writing for more than 50 years.

    But time changes you, and now I have set up a goal, I will write a short story, a not too bad one, within a year (or two). On my way there, i will practice by writing even shorter stories.
    (i have no idea what kind of story I will write)
    One problem I have is that as I am an experienced story reader, and the authors (the ones who knows their stuff) are such smooth operators, they get you into the story in a way that you don’t notice how they are doing it.

    But I will read some romance stuff, I hope I find some that aren’t so good, then I might see what they are doing.

    I am very happy this forum exists, I have learned so many things here. I understand I am not the intended target group for the forum, but I hope I can (after a while) contribute in some way.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017 at 12:48 AM

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