Tag Archive - conflict

When Your Character Is His Own Worst Enemy

Traditionally, there are four general types of opposition at the heart of a story. While our protagonist might face multiple kinds of opposition, the primary one will usually fall into man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, or man vs. self (and of course you can replace man with woman, or robot, or alien).

In story structure, there are key scenes in which the opposition rears its/his/her ugly head and “pinches” the protagonist—hence why these are called “pinch points.”

Two specific pinch points occur in traditional story structure, the first one falling between the 25% mark (turning point #2) and the midpoint (turning point #3) and the second one around the 67% mark (before the Dark Night of the Soul moment).

The purpose of the first pinch point is generally to introduce the opposition to the reader. The second pinch point reveals the full force of the opposition. Continue Reading…

Tension and Pacing Through Conflict and Emotional Narrative

This month we’ve been attacking Fatal Flaw #7—Lack of Pacing and Tension. Tension is crucial in a story. Without it, readers will stop reading. Pacing is linked to tension, and there are many ways to ensure strong pacing in a novel. Take a look at what editor Christy Distler suggests to create strong pacing and tension through conflict and emotional narrative.

This month we’ve been talking about tension and pacing in fiction. As a quick review, tension is what motivates your reader to keep turning the pages of the story. It grabs their attention and makes them want (or, even better, need) to know what’s going to happen next.

Pacing is the rate at which a story is told, and it can vary from slow to fast depending on several factors—for example: the characters, the setting, or the scene’s action (or lack of it). While pacing is always present and tension isn’t, both require good storytelling if they’re to work in a writer’s favor.

Two great ways of keeping up the tension and pacing are through the use of conflict and emotional narrative. Conflict, or a character’s opposition with other characters or circumstances (or both), keeps a story interesting. Emotional narrative invokes readers’ interest by allowing them to get to know a character and care about what happens to him or her. If a character’s inner thoughts and motivations aren’t shown, he or she seems more like a puppet just going through the motions. Continue Reading…

The Valuable Lessons Conflict Teaches Us

As we wrap up our look at the third corner pillar of novel construction—conflict with high stakes—I’d like to make a few other observations about conflict. I spoke a bit about inner and outer conflict last week (if you’ve missed any of the posts on this topic, start here), and how the best novels have both types of conflict in great measure, and in various strengths involving as many characters and situations as possible. Messier is better when it comes to conflict, and we have to resist the tendency to be nice to our hero or heroine. Continue Reading…

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