Take Five: #8: Conflict and progress

Take Five
Five-minute reads about writing
to help you with NaNoWriMo
Nov. 1 - Nov. 30, 2011
Courtesy: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Twitter: @RandomMagicTour

#8: Conflict and progress

Conflict can advance your story. It might even tell you what happens next, even if you didn't even plan some particular scene. This is true with almost all genres, whether the story is a thriller, drama, action-adventure or a romantic comedy.

It's true because of a simple principle - remember that note by Sir Isaac Newton on the third law of motion or something or other, the one you learned about in physics class? No? Well, for anyone who was sleeping through that particular tidbit, it's basically this: 

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Perhaps if you're writing a breezy satire or a philosophical treatise in novel form, conflict won't apply, because the focus is elsewhere; more internalized thought versus externalized action. 

But in nearly any other sort of genre, it's a writing tool that not only applies, but even helps give shape to the story. In the video below, action-adventure novelist (Black Ops and Area 51 series, as well as stand-alone titles) Bob Mayer explains the use of conflict to advance a story.


There's no transcript for the video, but he's basically illustrating the premise of constructing or advancing plot via conflict, using a specific example taken from one of his novels co-written with writing partner Jennifer Crusie, Agnes and the Hitman:

Have core conflict in your novel where the protagonist and antagonist want something concrete and specific and the main obstacle to each achieving that is each other.

Find Agnes and the Hitman: Print | Kindle
More on Bob Mayer: Blog | YouTube | Twitter
More on Jennifer Crusie: Blog | Twitter

About this series

The Take Five series is curated by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic. You can find out more about the book here, if you like:

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