Weekly Conflict/Justification Practice Wk of 11/08-14/20

I’m a big believer in practicing in order to give oneself mad skillz! So I figured I’d start a thread where we could practice together as we develop them.

Skill = Practiced Ability made up of
Effect | Trust
Test | Cause

Desiring the effect of being better writers
we can trust each other to help and support one another
So we’ll test ourselves
Causing us to improve our community and, yes, our mad skillz!

To this end, I’m going to post a conflict/justification from whatever story I’m working on that day for feedback, and in a total leap of faith, I’m inviting you to do the same. Anyone else in?

Today’s offering from me (because the forum won’t let me reply to myself)

OS of Conscious: Characters can ponder moodily in order to suffer their perceived injustices unless they should reflect on the perspectives of others to give them insight, even if it’s painful.*

Feedback (public please, so we can all learn together) is most welcome.

  • p.s. I swear this story has ZERO to do with current politics

Great initiative @jassnip.

Feedback on yours: My humble opinion. Kindly dissect mine below as well.
Decent attempt @jassnip . But as a concern that bothers everyone, it isn’t crystal clear. it seems like you started with Conscious, then the real conflict source is the “perceived injustice” = Preconscious, and then they “reflect”= Memory.
Also the “can” doesn’t seem concrete enough to be the source. It’s either what’s causing it or not.

OS of Conscious: Taking a cue from Jim’s audio podcast,

How does Conscious-ing cause problems?

My attempt: In trying to emulate humans, a society of giant rats are crippled by way too much bureaucracy. So much so that they can’t even seem to get basic things done on time without sending emails and filling forms.

Feedback pls. :grin:

This is super super close.

But I can see a world where you can have both and it’s not that big a deal (not genuine conflict).

What if it was:

Characters want to bring to attention the perceived injustices incurred by others unless they should reflect on the reason why others do what they do in order to be more compassionate

Now you have something where the drive to bring up everyone’s thoughtless and painful actions creates more pain among those who act the way they do without a second thought…

@Khodu thank you for looking. Interesting take on mine. The perceived injustice is not what’s causing the problems, it’s the pondering moodily. it’s the “suffering” they inflict on themselves and others. It’s like the stereotype of a New Yorker walking into traffic and saying “Hey, hey, I’m walking here!” only instead it’s “Hey, hey, I’m suffering here.” I could almost as easily change out perceived injustice with suffer the happiness of others.

Also" reflect on" isn’t necessarily memory, I meant it as take into consideration, which it is listed in the conscious gists list in Subtext.

Now for yours, btw thank you for playing.

You only have one side of the argument “too much bureaucracy” represented. And I’m not seeing the trouble stemming from the consciousness of the bureaucracy, but from the actuality/doing of it.

So maybe something like… Rats want to be thoughtful of each other in order to emulate the best parts of human society, unless they become conscious that humans are stupid and their societies keep failing in order to pursue a better future for themselves.

How about that?

Only by way of discussion, so that we can see our differing perspectives (see what I did there?) I want to explore this a bit.

Two things, in the first half I don’t see any of the justification (in order to) aspect

Second, what I’m picturing in my head are people who wallow. In my experience, people who wallow are so focused on themselves, they have no capacity to see things from another person’s perspective because they are too conscious of their own pain/inequities, they aren’t interested in people knowing the injustices to rectify them, but so they can woe-is-me (I’m thinking of Glum here, from the cartoon version of Gulliver’s Travels on the Banna Split show. To me, they are definitely mutually exclusive, which means I fell short. So the question becomes…how could I communicate that more clearly?

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This one worked perfectly for me – unlike Jim I could totally see the conflict, I think because I was picturing these people as the kind who just enjoy suffering, or seem to. (I read your New Yorker example after and that was exactly what I was picturing.)

BUT as I tried to see Jim’s point of view, I started to realize that maybe this wasn’t justified all the way to the BE (Being) level. i.e. why do these people WANT to suffer?

What do you think of this:

Characters want to ponder injustices in order to be thought of as poor suffering souls UNLESS they should reflect on the perspectives of others to gain (painful) insights.

I’m wondering if that gets to the heart of it more, while still fitting the original idea?


From the outside, this version seems richer

So, the characters are used to the suffering and so are living through the status quo to remain in a familiar (comfortable) state? I would say time needs to pass to consider the perspectives of others and possible pain/discomfort. Is TIME somewhere an option in your storyforming?

I have been watching Lost Treasures of Egypt on National Geographic Channel and Egypt’s Unexplained Files on The Science Channel. The brilliance of the Dramatica Story Theory is it works with the human brain in general throughout the ages. They used a hundred years of film history and hundreds of years of play and novel histories to hone it. The human race keeps repeating patterns in history, too, leaving us writers to take our pick of drama or comedy to create stories. I’m still blown away about the bonfires of the vanities (great works of art) that ended up being tossed into fires that happened in different countries at different times in many histories. That is why I wonder if time is a big factor.

I get your angle now. Your explanation offers some clarity as to the actual consideration of their suffering. And good call on “reflect-ing”. I got stuck in the context of reflecting on past events, and not what’s going on in the here and now.
Thanks for your feedback on mine as well @jassnip.

@mlucas example added more clarity while still preserving the core of your idea.
So since I’m new(2nd time) to Subtext, I’d like to ask you guys how you craft your premises or appreciations of story points.

@jassnip, once again,this is a great initiative.

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Start with this thread and the articles that are linked in the thread and then this Writer’s Room episode

It’s funny that you posted this today. I’d already been thinking of posting the one I was working on, too – but this was a great kick in the pants.

I arrived at mine a bit differently since I am doing revision, so I first had to look for the elements that were already there. (It was written with a storyform but not PSR, now I’m looking for which PSR item it matches.)

This is a case where the scene isn’t quite working perfectly, and I feel like PRCO/justifications may help. It’s about my MC getting over his fears to take his first training flight, and I thought “good scene, conflict is there, but it didn’t end right – the end felt over the top and cheesy”. The more I looked at it the more I figured I focused too much on MC throughline elements (Control & Uncontrolled) when it was more of an OS scene. Looking at it objectively, it really fits DREAM. So (using my patented Act-PSR notation :stuck_out_tongue: ):

Main Story OS 3-3 DREAM: People should cast aside childhood dreams in order to be content UNLESS people can aspire to unrealistic goals in order to serve others.

Let me know what you think.

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I was hoping I could count on you to play. Let’s nip this up and take a looksee.

So…these don’t feel quite exclusionary enough. They are missing … I don’t know a grandioseness?

Okay, that feels a little better to me, but I totally realize that it’s subjective and it’s what works for and speaks to each of us as writers. Things I feel strongly about…I really felt that “need” was needed in the 2nd half, it didn’t feel like enough to just be capable of aspiration but that it’s part of the job requirement.

I’ma give this a 2nd go…because I don’t think the first part is good enough yet…ummmm…

I changed the first part to what people might go for, instead of what they would get rid of, because that doesn’t tell you what they’d replace it with. Idk…do either of those fit your story? I may be off the mark. What do you think?

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Those are great Diane, thanks! Love the “make believe ambitions of youth” phrasing. I think the last one doesn’t fit the scene quite as well, but your previous one was great and definitely captures what’s going on in the scene. Actually, thinking entirely on a subtextual level, maybe the last one works too.

Note the reason I had “cast aside” is because I was originally using People shouldn’t follow childhood dreams, but that didn’t really work with the in order to clause*. So I replaced People shouldn’t follow with People should cast aside.

You’re probably right on the need vs. can. The can was more from my MC (POV character) perspective in the scene, but need represents Author’s intent more closely.

* This is one of my pet peeves with using negatives in the can/want/should/need part of the justification; used with in order to it makes the sentence ambiguous. For example:

People shouldn’t follow childhood dreams in order to be content

It’s not clear whether that means:

  1. People shouldn’t (follow childhood dreams in order to be content) – i.e. a statement that “following childhood dreams in order to be content” is something you shouldn’t do, but maybe you could follow childhood dreams for another reason
  2. People shouldn’t follow childhood dreams (in order to be content) – i.e. if you want to be content, you shouldn’t follow childhood dreams.

I think #2 is what @jhull is intending with this phrasing, but the ambiguity makes it unclear.

The problem is even more obvious with something like: People shouldn’t abandon their children in order to be free of responsibility.

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Just out of curiosity @mlucas to understand – is the point of this that the characters are being asked to put aside dreams of an “ordinary” life in order to embrace something that seems farfetched (being a starfighter pilot?)

Interesting Elements underneath: Faith/Support/Oppose/Disbelief.

“Characters need to have blind faith in order to not think too much about the risks they are undertaking unless characters should remain loyal to their families in order to keep connected to what they know.” Or something :grin:

Here’s one I was working on. The context (roughly, without getting into too many details) is two communities with very different religious/political views sharing an isolated (quarantined) island. They must hide a secret together in order to keep the government from swooping in and closing both groups down.

The element is Accurate in the context of Worry while Becoming. Here’s the phrasing I was having a little trouble with:

Groups should tolerate each other in order to be known as legitimate unless a character demands that a group accurately represent its differences in order to be true to its own conception of reality.

FWIW @jhull This is an example of how it might be worth allowing a couple of consecutive replies on a post. My first reply was to @mlucas on his idea. Then I tried to post what I was working on in a response (to keep them separated) but it wouldn’t let me until someone else replied.

I do appreciate not having people just string a bunch of responses together though.


This works for me but is kind of cold. I wonder if you could now try to layer on some emotion into the Being/KTAD part of the justification? Also, for the second part, I’m not sure if the “character demands” part is necessary. I think if you wrote “a group needs to accurately represent its differences” it would capture that.

EDIT (and @jhull I got the consecutive reply restriction too): The more I think about this the more I like it… The juxtaposition of tolerating in order to be seen as legitimate by others, vs. being true to themselves, that’s really cool. Two very different sides of Accurate. (so maybe it doesn’t need more emotion after all – I do remember recently Jim saying that’s okay for some justifications to be cold and logical)

Actually the scene is more about how the MC once had dreams of being a pilot but put them aside because of fear (a fear which is still active in the scene). And then yes, embracing something farfetched is definitely the other side of it. That side is actually represented by a different character, a weird sort of AI-like energy lifeform, which has a farfetched dream of becoming something called a shipflame.

It was actually finding the elements that helped me realize the scene was really Dream from the PSR. I just finished revising and the Faith/Disbelief part really helped. I think the problem before revision was that it was went Faith/Support/Oppose and then I tried to throw in an Outcome of Uncontrolled. :slight_smile:

I could share the Faith/Support/Oppose/Disbelief justifications as well. Though I did them only in a sort of “shortcut” manner which was good enough to see how the scene needed to work and fix it.

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That’s actually an interesting point. My first response was thinking that this would come out in the writing – the way I’m imagining the scene, there’s a lot of tension. But I wonder if adding more emotion now would actually help me write the scene …

Oh, that’s so cool!

Hey @Lakis, hope it’s okay if I weigh-in here. So, I’m gonna caveat my first thoughts…these may truly just be my personal biases/blindspots/things that don’t work for me, so please take anything I say here with a huge salt-lick sized grain of salt. YMM(definitely)V. That out of the way, in order to be known as something has never worked for me. I don’t see how it ever leads toward zen. I can see it as the front half of a truth, but never on justification side. As stated, this may just be a me thing.

So first change I want to make … Hold the phone. I just deleted a paragraph of stuff…because How does tolerate each other have anything to do with accuracy? Tolerate as a verb is not equivalent to tolerances as a noun. Rethinking…

Diametrically opposed groups won’t behave within polite tolerances in order to defend their staunchly held beliefs unless everyone can set aside their specific moral compass in order to serve a greater purpose.

Not sure if that’s better or not…anyway…that’s my thoughts.


Tolerating abuse and tolerating harsh work conditions are both in the Subtext illustrations list (and I think DSE gists). The idea is you are widening your scope of what’s accurate or acceptable, i.e. within tolerances, and thus tolerating it…

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Oh, I like that! I think it gets at what I’m trying to say – and might even give me more ideas on how to write the scene.

Regarding this:

There are several gists of Accurate that begin with tolerate as a verb (“Tolerating Harsh Work Conditions” “Tolerating Abuse”) – so I think it works (?).

EDIT – seeing I’m cross-posting with Mike

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Speaking of tolerances…this is a real thing I ran into yesterday…and my conflict/justification contribution for today.

A girl should be able to pole dance at a church event in order to break down social norms that unfairly sexualize her, unless maintaining those social norms is important in order to protect her from predators.

Go ahead ask me about this, lol. I dare ya.

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I’ll ask.

But I’ll also point out that this will get unwieldy fast if we all post and comment and revise daily.

The scene I’m writing currently:
People panic in order to motivate others to consider UNLESS people ignore warning signs in order to feel calm