I recently finished reading Holly Lisle’s How To Write Page-Turning Scenes. I learned a valuable lesson from this book.
I’m been having problems with the idea of conflict in my current work-in-progress. In my mind, conflict is fighting and arguing. Conflict is confrontation. Conflict is WAR.
Turns out this isn’t the whole truth.
Turns out, in fiction, conflict is, quite simply, change.
Fighting, arguing, confrontation, war…these can all be conflict. But conflict is not fighting.
Anything that reveals a change in a scene represents conflict. If one character changes another’s mind, preferably through skill or competence, that’s conflict.
A guy trying to pick up a girl (even if she’s attracted to him) is conflict. If he succeeds, that’s change. If he fails, that’s change.
The objective is to come out of a scene with something changed.
I don’t know why I didn’t see this before, other than I have a mental block when it comes to conflict. In my own life, I avoid conflict like the plague.
Or at least I used to.
I’ve always been leery about raising topics of discussion that might be construed as confrontational. As a result, I had a hard time setting boundaries and actually found myself staying in several relationships well past their expiration date because of the fear of conflict.
(None of the guys in those relationships was mean or violent…I just had this overwhelming desire not to rock the boat. Personal problem, I know. I’m much better today.)
This spilled over into my writing and made it difficult for me to write confrontational scenes. What if my hero and heroine had a fight and broke up? Where’s my novel go then? Yikes!
By changing the definition of conflict in my head from “confrontation / fighting / arguing” to “change”, I’ve got a better handle on how to introduce or pump up the conflict in my novel. And this definition revision could come in handy in real life, too. You never know.
There are days when I wonder how I can fit everything into the hours I’m awake. Day job. Work on Book 1. Preparation for Book 2. Craft reading. Blog posts. Keep up with social media. Eat. Sleep. Chores.
Just when I think something has to give; that I have to sacrifice something to make it through the day, I read a craft book like this one and it gives me a whole new perspective on an issue that was causing me, you guessed it, internal conflict.
I have no fear of change. I’ve made a million changes in my life, most for the good, some not so good, but each and every change was one worth making. I’m a better person because of change. I believe there’s always something redeeming in change, even when the change itself seems like a bad thing.
Change is good.
I can write stories filled with change.
What are your thoughts on conflict in fiction? Do you agree that conflict is change?