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Monday, November 8, 2010

Vitamin 'C'

Conflict is the mechanism by which writers plunge the MC into the deep end of the pool and then continue to dunk him/her when they come up for air. Until finally, they are given the choice to sink or swim - life vest optional.

Definition (Encarta Online Dictionary):    
1. military war: warfare between opposing forces, especially a prolonged and bitter but sporadic struggle
news that the conflict had reached the outskirts of the capital
2. difference: a disagreement or clash between ideas, principles, or people
3. psychology mental struggle: a psychological state resulting from the often unconscious opposition between simultaneous but incompatible desires, needs, drives, or impulses
4. literature plot tension: opposition between or among characters or forces in a literary work that shapes or motivates the action of the plot

Novel Conflict
Internal – self; a growth arc regardless of resolution – overcoming internal hurt – Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Relationship – others; antagonist; forces internal change in MC – The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Social – group; ideas, practices, customs – The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
Survival – fatalism; weather, starvation, animals – Into the Wild by John Krakauer
Situation – MCs problems revolve around interests, ambitions, situations of others in direct relation to MC;  place/plot; used to grow conflict – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Natural World – think plagues of Egypt – Plague War by Jeff Carlson
God – good & evil; Angels & Demons by Dan Brown


Happy Writing,


  1. While vitamin C is good for everyone, it especially important for writers.

  2. You bet!! And boy am I in need of a triple dose today.
    Thanks Kay.

  3. Nice examples of conflict, Patti. It made me look at my work in progress. I never given the conflict a name, but it's social. Do you consciously think about which conflict you're going to write about?

  4. Shellie,
    Good question. Before I get to the writing phase, I try to have a clear idea of both internal & external conflicts. I will say that I find it easier to round out the internal first. So I start with that, then I go into the external (antag/s). Wow, that got me brain a-turnin'.
    Thanks So Much,