Conflict: Twist the Knife Slowly

Conflict: Week 3 of Re-visioning Your Story Violence is not Conflict. It is not action. It is not bickering, or worry, or dreams, or traveling. Unfortunately, many seasoned and novice writers mistake one or all of those things for conflict. Why is conflict so difficult for the writer? Because human beings naturally shy away from conflict. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes outright dangerous. But conflict is essential to storytelling for as Robert McKee says in his book, Story, “Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict.”: So, you ask, if conflict is not action, violence, bickering, etc., is conflict an obstacle? Well, yes and no. An obstacle can present your character with something he must overcome, but if it does not present a dilemma, your reader may not care. Definition In How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost, the authors give what I believe is the best definition of conflict I’ve ever read. “The idea of conflict can be reduced to the word no.” Someone or something is saying no to your character. Yet, compelling conflict is more than someone saying no. It’s more than an obstacle; it’s something that […]

Putting the Pieces Together

Part 8: Revisioning Your Story Wow.  It’s been a long haul, but you’ve analyzed your story for seven long lessons, from Character Goals to Plot Twists to the End and the Beginning. Now it’s time for putting the pieces together.  Finally, it’s time to fix it.  What?  You’re worried that you can’t fix it or that fixing it will destroy what you loved about it?  Take a deep breath.  You’ve done your homework, right?  No reason to worry.  You have all the tools you need to shine it up and fall in love with it all over again. For this lesson, you will need all of your notes from the previous seven lessons, a pen and paper, lots of it,  music, snacks and fluids, a three-ring binder or other organizing notebook, and uninterrupted time.  You see we’ve been working on preparing your mind, your muse if you prefer.  And now, you’re going to tell your muse that it’s time to work. Supplies Gather all of your notes and your manuscript.  You will need a large stack of paper and several pens (you don’t want to run out of ink in the middle of inspiration, do you?)  Lay in some easy […]

From the End to the Beginning

Part 7: Re-visioning Your Story     Why from the End to the Beginning? Many writers spend a significant amount of time crafting the beginning of their story. They know the beginning of a story is critical. If you don’t hook your reader, the story will go unread. But did you realize the ending is just as important?   No amount of convincing characters, intricate or thrilling plot, nor vivid story world construction can overcome a poorly crafted story end. And a failed ending of your story will cause an agent, editor, or reader to put down the book never to pick up another of your stories. But a great ending will reward your reader with an emotional payoff. Hooked, he’ll eagerly seek out more of your stories. So how do you construct a great ending? In revision. First, in order to craft a perfect ending, you must understand the key components of the ending of a story: the crisis, the climax, and the resolution. CRISIS The crisis is the pivotal moment of your story. Your protagonist’s choices and actions have led her to this point where she must make a final, irrevocable choice. “At the point of crisis,” Bob Mayer […]