|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
WHAT WOULD EDEN HAVE BEEN WITHOUT THE SNAKE?
Even Creationist Mythology Needs Conflict To Attract Readers.
You've started compiling those lists we visited yesterday. They've provided you with that germ of an idea that might make a good story. But you need something to kick the ball down field and get this game underway. Here comes the conflict.
What is conflict? Well, according to my handy copy of The American Heritage Dictionary: conflict > n. 1. Prolonged fighting. 2. Disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests. 3. Psycol. A struggle, often unconscious, between mutually exclusive impulses or desires. > v. To be in opposition, differ. So, as you can see, this covers a lot of ground - from open fighting, to differing or disharmony, to the personal struggle within the mind. If you have my Irish-American background this works out pretty well. Kind of along the line of, "Uh-oh, looks like there's a punch-up brewing. Great! I was getting bored with this funeral."
As the definition indicates, there are two types of conflict. External, that being between two characters, a character and the environment, a character and the government, a character and some soul sucking, heartless monstrosity...Sorry, I already said government, didn't I?These are the outside things in the story which raise barriers between your character and their goal.
Then there's internal conflict. As it says, this conflict happens inside a character. It is a psychological struggle between opposing forces within the character's heart and mind. It has the same result, erecting barriers that the character must face on their quest for their goal.
Short fiction can have any combination of conflicts, as well as any number of conflicts - from one to several, but it cannot work without some form of conflict. This isn't Seinfeld, a story about nothing is, well, nothing. Conflict is what sets your character on his or her path through the story and provides the tension that readers demand. A short story is built around a change in your character. The catalyst for that change creates conflict that must be overcome, or not, to bring on the climax and resolution of the story.
It's up to the author to determine what type of conflict the character will face. In order to do that you will need to ask some basic questions. Again, borrowing from, " HOW TO WRITE A SHORT STORY. ":
*What kind of conflict do you want to highlight in the story? Will it be internal or external conflict - or both?
*Which conflict is appropriate for your characters' desires and actions?
*Which conflict is appropriate for the setting?
*Does the conflict offer a difficult struggle for your character?
If you have a strong sense of the story you want to write, the answers to these questions will probably come easily. If you're sketchy as to just how you want to advance, then answering them will be a very helpful part of developing your tale. This is still all in the realm of pre-writing so you have a lot of latitude. Experiment with different approaches and angles. Enjoy the process!
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis