Wednesday, June 08, 2011

HOW TO USE CONFLICT TO CREATE A WATERTIGHT PLOT

By C. LaRene Hall

The fourth class I attended at the writer's conference was taught by Liz Adair. She is an amazing presenter and I learned a great deal. Remember the things I'm posting are the things I heard in the class. That is with the exception of all the laughter.

When the trouble is gone, the story is over. This quote and many other points in this presentation are taken from Les Edgerton’s book Hooked.

1. The character struggles to resolve the surface and story-worthy problems and restore his stability.

2. A new stability is established in the conclusion, reflecting the change the protagonist has undergone as a result.

3. Stability + inciting incident = instability = stuggle to resolve instability = new stability

We need a sliver of the old stability. Your story is the struggle to resolve instability, and the surface problems. This struggle to resolve instability is where the surface problems (conflicts) are.

Surface problems = tight situations, looming disaster, conflicts, barriers, things that thwart the problem.

A story worthy problem, makes the difference between adventure – one conflict to another conflict. Nothing to linger – nothing to make you ponder, no story. The story worthy problem is what is going to make your story last.

As you plot your story focus on one scene.

Perhaps, the story worthy problem is discovered through working through surface problems.

Conflict can be broken up into smaller units. The whole book is made up of several scenes. A structure within a structure, but it always has conflict, an inciting incident, surface problems, or a story-worthy problem.

Protagonist enters the scene with a goal. The antagonist also enters the scene with a goal. The scene ends in disaster for the protagonist – reaction, dilemma, decision. Goal, Conflict, and Disaster.

Be aware that there are techniques that you can learn that will make you a better writer. While you’re writing, learn about them and apply what you can.

First just write.

Later, analyze the scene you have written. Is it a scene or a sequel? Or neither? If it is neither then you must find a way to make it one or the other or you must throw it away. If it is a scene, verify that it has a goal, a conflict, and a disaster. Identify them each in a one-sentence summary. If you can’t put the scene into one of these structures, then throw the scene away as the worthless piece of drivel that it is. Get rid of it. Each conflict as well as each goal for each scene must arise organically out of the conflict.

1 comment:

Weaver said...

Great post. I hear complaints over and over again about how much trouble writers make for their characters. They don't get it.