Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Challenge: C is for Conflict



Welcome to Day 3 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.

________

C is for conflict:  a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife: discord of action, feeling, or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles. (Dictionary.com)

Conflict is the essence, the very heart of a novel.  A story must open with it, sustain and deepen it, and end it with a clear resolution.  Conflict should be rich and highly involving.  It should be layered in order to raise questions and must be felt deeply for all those involved.  It should be unavoidable and inescapably true.    

There are two levels of conflict:  inner and outer.  The outer conflict is the action, the motion, and the goal.  The inner conflict is the reaction, the emotion, and the growth.  While the outer conflict is what physically propels the story, it is the inner conflict that allows the reader to bond with the story.  It is the inner struggle the protagonist brings with him into the story before the narrative even begins.  It’s what is holding him back.  The inner conflict is the product of the plot.

In my novel, the conflict is like a long rope hanging off the side of a skyscraper with all the characters hopelessly lost and stranded at different floors.  As the story progresses, more and more characters jump onto the rope, trying to escape their dire fate.  You don’t know how much more these characters can possibly bear as the rope stretches and becomes more and more taut, fraying and unraveling as the end draws near.

What is the conflict like in your story?

20 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Hmmm . . . in my adventure romance there's internal conflict and then external, too.

For my YA fantasy, there's the conflict of trying to save the world while growing inside, too.

So, yeah. =D

Jaye Robin Brown said...

For my current WIP - there's both. The external is actually a symptom of the internal.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Ooo! I like your analogy! And I like your theme for the A-Z. Hmm. The conflict in mine... The inner deals with stinking at what's most important to everyone else. The outer deals with escaping from invading bandits through a massive snowstorm to save a town.

Clare said...

Well thought out conflict is key to any good story. The conflict in your story sounds fascinating.

L.G.Smith said...

I've got lots of betrayal at the heart of my story. Makes for good internal strife. :)

Nancy Stewart said...

Interesting post. I write kids' books. Different conflict but conflict all the same! Take a peek at my blog if you've the time or inclination. Am following yours.

Sara said...

Love that analogy!

A big part of my conflict is man vs society. But I also have man vs himself for my internal conflict.

My MC is terrified of herself. Lots of internal conflict when you think your going to kill everyone who gets near you.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm a contemporary writer - I find most of my conflict is pyschological, both internal and external. There's nothing like a bad relationship with your mother to get some conflict going!

Matthew MacNish said...

Love your skyscraper and rope analogy. I'm not sure I have anything that apt for my own.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like an onion.
Oh wait, ogres are like onions!

Nicky Wells said...

Amazing post again, Nancy! Conflict in my novel resides in the clash between moral conscience and wish fulfilment. It's not an easy situation for my heroine and she beats herself up something awful about the choices she has to make. In the end, she comes through with flying colours. Looking forward to "D"!!

Jennifer Hillier said...

My themes always seem to revolve around lying and obsession. All which cause lots and lots o' conflict!

Great post!

Heather M. Gardner said...

Excellent analogy of your book!

I guess mine is more like wrong place wrong time kind of conflict.

Great post, Nancy!
HMG

Carrie Butler said...

So, conflicts are like bellybuttons! (Innies and outies.) ;)

Eva Gallant said...

Such great stuff; I'm still learning.

Chuck said...

Just for the record I have not resovled may conflicts...including what to write for the letter J for the Challenge.

I believe you will enjoy my C post for today. Actually wrote it last month so maybe we were meant to meet during the A-Z!

Phil Siegel said...

I am trying to have a healthy mix of inner and outer conflict in my story. It's so true that without conflict, there is no story. Many times, when writing a chapter is taking forever, I realize that there's no conflict and it's dragging.

Also, I tagged you in a post. Ch-ch-check it out!

Lisa L. Regan said...

When you get to the end of this challenge, you should make the blog posts into a book on writing! Great stuff!!! And you do conflict more masterfully than most writers I've read!

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Great post, Nancy.

My upcoming novel drips with both types of conflict, and practically all the characters are pulled into it. Conflict is the very heart of the novel, and that heart needs to beat strong and fast throughout the story :-)

Jasmine Walt said...

The novel I finished a few months ago definitely has both internal and external-- the more obvious problems, and then the inner struggles that keep the characters from being able to move forward and live their lives the way they were meant to.

Conflict is definitely very important in a story-- it's what makes things interesting! Great post.