So, I’ve been wanting to talk about this for awhile now. I’m not too ashamed to admit that @jhull broke me/my mind by asking the “how is this a problem” for a character question; or in other words, why is something a conflict, what makes it a conflict? And mostly all I had is a shy shrug and a mumbled, “I don’t know, because it is.” So I’ve been mulling this over for months…maybe even more than a year, too insecure to bring it up lest I appear woefully stupid (which is in complete conflict with my own self-image). So I sat on it, waiting for the right spark to hit me.
And tonight, I think lightning struck. I was reading a book and it postulates the following: Character + goal + stakes + motivation + attempt + resistance = conflict
Now resistance is the key element in that equation, but it seemed to me that conflict arises when it (resistance) butts up against any of the other elements.
So for playful simple example, say I have
Character A, Character B
Goal: Drinking a glass of water
Stakes: dividend: slacked thirst vs Consequence: chapped lips
Motivation: don’t want to be dehydrated
Attempt: getting water from a canteen
Resistance: The resistance could affect any of those and that would be conflict.
Character B could threaten character A “Go near that canteen and I’ll whoop your ass.” Or even just actually beat their ass for picking it up.
Character B could convince character A that anything she drinks in this place (Fairylands) will trap her there forever.
A bad smell could come from the canteen – upping the potential negative consequences from chapped lips to poisoning
A promise of something better than (what fish f*ck in) if Character A will/can wait.
Character A could see someone they thought needed the water more than themselves and that could demotivate them from drinking it and offering it to the other person.
Character A could attempt to drink and nothing but a few stale drops comes out of the canteen, thwarting the immediate attempt
So what do you think? Have I come up with a way (not the only way, I’m sure) to create/identify conflict? Please say yes, I really need to be able to move on. If these aren’t conflict, why not? LOL,
I’ve been staring at this for like 20 minutes afraid to post it. That’s some serious resistance I’m having.