Monday, November 07, 2005

The Importance of Conflict

Perhaps James M. Frey puts it best when, in How to Write a Damn Good Novel, he says that story is struggle, and conflict is the "gunpowder" of storytelling. Conflict not only moves the plot, it brings characters to life. For, in the light of conflict, character is defined. That's because the way people respond to obstacles, resistance, barriers, and conflict sharply characterizes them, telling us who they are. This is largely because conflict forces them to make decisions and act. So, when you bring your characters into conflict, you breathe a soul into them.

A stretch of action or dialog without conflict — present or imminent — is, in a word, boring. Our fascination with conflict is the reason why news programs now devote so much time to having opponents on an issue square off against each other, whether or not they make sense. The more of this a program has, the higher its ratings.

So, every scene must be built around conflict.

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