Conflict: The Story To Be Told

Posted on Posted in Writing Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today, I wanted to focus on one of the most important elements whenever you are writing a story. Every time you watch a movie or read a book, there is something that engages you. There is always that one thing that we are intrigued about, that makes us continue reading. We don’t notice, most of the times. However, it is always there. It is a subliminal promise made by the storyteller, of something that will happen along the story. I am talking about the conflict. It is what brings our story to life. The promise we made to our readers. I am going to guide you on the basics of the conflict of your story, and how to create it.

When do I Think of the Conflict?

First of all, allow me to note conflict is the root of your story. Therefore, conflict is what you think of even before you start writing or plotting your story. The conflict is your story. Think of your favorite movie or novel, and ask yourself. Does the main character(s) have a goal to achieve? Do they discover it immediately? Do they reach it right away? I am fairly positive your answers are ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘No’.

So, let’s rethink this whole idea. Your character’s goal is what will propel your story forward when it is presented to your reader. Why do you I need a goal? Because, by the time your reader finishes your story, you want them to be different, or think differently, than when they started it. The best way to achieve this is, of course, by having your characters change as well.

Your readers shouldn’t see the goal your characters are going to achieve right away, specially in a novel. However, you need some sort of background before you reveal it. Of course, I don’t mean you should spend five chapters talking about the daily live of your character. Your reader is waiting for something interesting to happen as soon as possible.

Also, your characters shouldn’t reach that goal right away, since it is what is going to attract your readers. They might be a few exception. I will get to them shortly. Nevertheless, overall, the goal is developed through the whole story.

How Does A Plot Twists Take Place

A plot twist is when, all of a sudden, the storyline changes in terms of goals or events. It is not a twist when you reveal to your reader your character’s goals, however, since there hasn’t been a change, but a reveal. The concept of ‘twist’ is closely related to a change on the story in general. Allow me to show some examples of twists.

  • Goal. Your character finds out the person they thought was behind something actually isn’t, but someone else.
  • Context. Your character finds out about a different dimension, or another country, and they need to go there in order to achieve their goal.
  • Focus. Your character changes their major goal, or have some new important ones added along the way.

A plot twist does not necessarily takes place in the middle of the story. Actually, they are closely related to what we call a “surprise ending”. Surprise endings are often used in series of books, to prepare the mood for an upcoming part. However, I will further talk about endings in the future, since there’s a lot that can be told about them.

Plot twists could be intentionally foreshadowed, or hinted, by the writer. Still, it is important not to make it obvious, because a plot twist could be one of the most important parts of your story. A reader who knows a major plot twist may not want to continue reading. POSSIBLE SPOILER OF HARRY POTTER: Imagine you knew beforehand about Snape’s past. It’d be disappointing, right. However, Rowling (the author) never hinted anything. That’s an effective plot twist in a story. END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER.

Conflict Is The Soul Of Your Story

Conflict is what gives sense to your story. Regardless of the genre you write, there will be a conflict in between your characters are supposed to overcome. Otherwise, your story would feel empty.

But hey! Don’t feel discouraged. A bad plot is something probably most readers have faced at least once. I’d like to share the idea of one of my stories, which I wrote when I was 14 years-old. While I was writing it, I really liked it a lot. It was like the best story ever back then. However, when someone else read it, they pointed out something I hadn’t noticed myself.

The story was set in New York, in the late 1970s. It told the story of three orphan brother who lived there. The two eldest were high school drop-outs, who worked very hard to earn money for the house. The youngest one, who was the protagonist, went to school, and that’s pretty much it. Throughout the story, the reader sees all of the hard times they face: hunger, imprisonment, death). However, the reader never sees a goal they want to achieve: they never explicitly show what any of the characters want to get at the end of their journey. They are simply struggling to get by one day at a time. By the end of the story, the youngest one develops a close relationship with an old lady with no family, and when she dies, he inherits all of her goods, and that’s the happy ending.

Why Is Conflict So Important?

This story might seem to have a plot, but it doesn’t. The tale is a never-ending quest without knowing what they are looking for. Despite there is a happy ending, there is never a hint of what they are looking for, or whether they are actually looking for something. Given this, the reader will always have a feeling of emptiness while going through the story. There is nothing for the reader to look forward to.

The conflict is what your readers are looking forward to find in your story, because that is what makes it interesting. Your story, and all the events, side stories, and plot twists, should develop around it. Make sure, when you start plotting your story, that you have completely defined your characters, and what they will look for throughout the story, so that it doesn’t feel empty.

 

Thank you once again for the support. Let me know in the comments below what you think of this topic, and if this information is useful for you. There are other elements somewhat related to this one, such as planning, character development, and climax, that I will talk about in future entries, so make sure to follow me in my social profiles to stay tuned to all the news. Without further ado, I will see you on the next one!

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