Friday, June 8, 2012

Why conflict is important?

Conflict is as crucial to the story as the protagonist. If the  protagonist is the head of a story, the conflict is the neck, which turns the head left, right, up and down. Conflict can be internal (some trait, flaw, or shortcoming which the protagonist has to overcome in the course of the story) or, the conflict can be external (a villain, some evil, or, an antagonist who has to be fought).

 Conflicts single handedly drive the plot forward. Readers frantically turn the pages eager to check how the conflict has been resolved. The tougher the conflict the more intrigued the readers are! I feel external conflict in the form of an evil villain, work better than inner conflict as they have the power to terrorize the protagonist by throwing obstacles in his/her path.

Though conflict can be tiring, it’s an important and integral part of our daily lives. Conflict like change is a constant. Many times we are trapped in conflicting situations; whose side to take in an argument. Several times we undergo conflict when we fight the temptation to turn away from that second piece of chocolate cake. Don’t the books in our TBR pile give rise to conflicts in our minds; which book to pick up next.

Trying to strike a balance between the various social medias and our manuscript puts us in an conflicting situation every single day. Real life provides a plethora of conflicting situations every day and trains us in writing better conflict in our stories.

Many times the conflicts in our books mirrors the conflicts in our lives. By resolving our character’s conflict we emerge stronger, bolder, and emotionally wiser. Resolving the conflict our protagonist is undergoing at times proves cathartic. Subconsciously we try to imbibe our protagonist’s strengths and at the same time transfer our own strengths to the main character. The characters that we create emulate us in some ways. Perhaps they are our alter egos, a part of our inner desires, our secret wish.

By clearing the character’s paths somewhere along our writing journey we are uncluttering our minds from the extra thoughts that constantly reside there, whittling away the unnecessary elements from our lives by getting focused on our writing, and clearing up our emotional debris by concentrating on someone else’s life (read the main character).

 Conflicts make characters stronger. By fighting our main character’s battles we somehow get the strength to resolve the issues we have been dilly-dallying over in our lives. And if we have been successful in resolving them beautifully in our books, not just the protagonist but the writer too has emerged victorious. 

 Do you think that conflicts make us stronger? Have you learnt from your main character’s conflicts? Please share. We would love to know.

23 comments:

  1. Never thought about conquering the conflicts of our characters making us stronger, but it makes sense.

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  2. There are certainly parallels between our novels and our lives, but I think my novels contain conflict that is generated within the context of the story, and not much based on my everyday conflicts.

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  3. I took a course years ago with The Institute for Children's Literature. The lessons discussing conflict shared this phrase, "No conflict, no story". That stuck with me, and has been a great guideline to follow since.

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  4. Interesting questions. I'm not sure--I tend to think of my characters' conflicts as being so fictional/extraordinary that they don't apply to my own writing. But has conflicts to resolve even if they're small, so I suppose there's common ground in that.

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  5. I love conflict (in fiction, not my life!) It brings out the best and worst of characters, and that's soooo interesting.

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  6. Gotta have conflict! That's what makes a great read. "Trouble is a necessary ingredient to writing." I cannot remember who said it, but it's the truth! *waving*

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  7. My TBR pile is definitely becoming a conflict, as is the argument I have with myself when I find a book I just HAVE to add to my growing pile. :D

    One day it will collapse and bury me under it, and then I'll have a new conflict to deal with. lol

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  8. I agree that conflict is essential in some form, and usually is the main driving force. Your post makes the case clearly and can only help the would-be novelist, I think.

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  9. Rachna, this is a fabulous topic! As they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

    Great thoughts on a crucial topic!

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  10. Great reflections on conflict!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Excellent post! Whether in fiction or real life, conflict's always there--and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it's what we need to drive us toward our goal. Sometimes, it becomes an eye-opener. :)

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  12. Great post!! I agree that conflict in our books tend to mirror what is in our lives, or what was in our lives. It's what makes writing so therapeutic :) Conflict makes the story exciting too. I am using writing to try to work out some past conflicts and shape new meaning into them.

    Andrea

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  13. Hi friends..I have noticed that whenever I try to work out my character's conflict, I am sub-consciously clearing the clutter in my own life. By giving my characters' strength to overcome the obstacles hounding them, I am imbibing the strength from my own words. Sounds strange, doesn't it? But, that's the way it works for me.

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  14. What an interesting thought..clearing your character's conflict clears the clutter in your life! You use of the word 'clutter' makes me wonder if you practice Feng Shui..?

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  15. Your post reminds me of one of Vonnegut's prescriptions for interesting fiction: always have characters who are at the end of their rope.

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  16. This is a great post! I was just reading about alter egos the other day and thought the same thing. Writing is such an incredible way to get through our own conflicts. It's a way for us to mold reality.

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  17. "Conflicts single handedly drive the plot forward." Absolutely right!

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  18. I'm working on two WIPs right now. I don't feel like they mirror my life in any way, yet I feel so good that the conflicts in them are being challenged and resolved.

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  19. Conflicts take the story forward and they do make the characters stronger....the interesting part is how the conflicts are resolved.

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  20. I think we subconsciously live through our characters and this includes conflicts and challenges. I can see some of the things I go through in my writings after I write them, so I think there is something going on here.

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  21. Right you are! A book with no conflict is pretty boring. I love LOTS of conflict.

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  22. Totally and definitely agree, I tell my students that the bollywood buster Sholay(Bhutanese people watch a lot of bollywood movies) is a HIT because of the conflict between Gabarsingh and Thakur. The conflict is the engine that drives the story forward.

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  23. Since I'm a genre writer, the largest conflicts in my books come from outside - but I make sure there are some inner character-conflicts as well as disagreements between characters, too. Yay for conflicts! :-)

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