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

I’m not sure what you are asking with the objeective/subject tool question. Care to elaborate?

But I think the first part of our problem is that I am using the primary definition of motivate 1. To provide with an incentive or a reason for doing something; impel; while you are using the 2nd definition 2. To cause. And I think that has us talking a cross purposes.

I wonder if this is an example where we need to expand or tweak the grammar of the justifications somehow – like would it work to say: “Panic can motivate others to action if they wish to consider their survival UNLESS people prioritize being calm in order to avoid knowing the hard truth.” It’s not exactly a dilemma then – more an incompatible worldview that could “impel” one or another kind of action.

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You seemed caught up on panic being a choice. But if I the author just create a panicky character and want that panic to motivate others… is that a problem?

Is a newish approach, so I barely know the ins and outs.

Wall, meet head one more time. LOL.

People panic in order to motivate others to consider
says to me
In order to give people a really good reason to consider (something), people (as a group) CHOOSE to panic on purpose.

Is that what you had in mind? If so, you’re golden, if not you might want a recast of the sentence.

I have no idea what @MWollaeger had in mind, but I’m imagining a character who is panicked about (say) climate change. He wakes up in the middle of the night, has trouble breathing at the thought of what’s coming. He goes around warning people, which causes them to panic. Others tell him to calm down, take up meditation, but he refuses – he believes that panic is the only way the populace will take things seriously.

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For what it’s worth, I experienced this exact conflict a couple weeks ago! Something went wrong with my furnace during a power failure (possibly the gas flame remained on when the fan went off), we smelled a burning smell etc. My wife and kids were just standing around not taking it seriously, and I remember noticing my own feelings of panic and purposely giving into the panic a bit in order to get everyone else to pay attention and consider that this could be a really serious problem.

So pretty much I was @Lakis’s panic-dude… :slight_smile:


I guess I’m confused by your approach because I thought the whole point of justifications is that you don’t choose them. They’re the result of your experience.

@Lakis is mostly right except for this:

It’s not a question of belief so much as it is just OMG I just found out that things are going badly and I’m panicking… how aren’t you panicking?? And the other character responds with I’m not seeing it the same way you are.


I think there’s probably a whole spectrum of conscious choice that could apply to how you use any particular justification. So a character could be completely conscious of it (“yes I should use logic here in order to solve this”), or completely unaware (author showing why a character should express anger). Or anything in between, like a character who’s aware of their own anger to some degree, but not aware of any value to their anger.

Even thinking at the Author level, I don’t think the “truism” of the justification has conscious choice baked into it. For example the truism “people should use logic to solve difficult problems” could easily apply to children who aren’t aware they’re using logic.


I’m still working through this thread so forgive me if this is already mentioned, but wanted to get it down before I forgot.

So one of these statements has 2 processes and 2 contexts (“I need to process 1 in order to context 1 unless I should process 2 in order to context 2). What we’re justifying is the process. That’s why we say “in order to”. It’s shorter than saying “and my justification for engaging in this process is…”. So in order to have conflict between the first justification and the second, we need those processes to be incompatible, to be impossible to engage in both at the same time.

It seems to me that one can ponder moodily as they reflect. Not sure if that’s what Jim meant when he said it he could see them both happening, but that’s where they don’t feel like they are in conflict for me.

I’d offer a suggestion on how I might fix it, but I’m trying to get caught up on work before this weeks Conflict Corner, which should be starting soon, I believe. Maybe I can come back afterwards to offer that.

…ok, so I have a minute after all. An extremely easy and lazy way to adjust this one would be to simply move part of the first context to the first process.

“Characters can ponder moodily their perceived injustices in order to suffer unless they should reflect on the perspectives of others…”

Now the only way these two could happen at the same time would be if others perspectives WERE somehow the perceived injustice. Assuming that’s not the case, one can’t ponder ones own perspective while also reflecting on the perspectives of others.

Continuing to read through, this actually looks a lot like what MLucas offered here:


Nice summary Greg!

Hmm. Don’t we evaluate the whole justification, including the “in order to” and what follows, when determining whether it can be true alongside its pair?

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Great question. So the way I’m coming at it is that it’s the process that is the source of conflict. The context we give to the process is how we justify that process. But as the source of conflict, it’s the two processes that cannot co-exist.

So I can say “I want to listen to my wife in order to be a good husband unless I need to take this call to be a good employee”, and I can conceivably be both a good husband and a good employee at the same time, but I can’t both listen to my wife and take this call.

Conversely, I could say I need to take this call to be a good employee unless I want to take this call to quit. I can’t be a good employee and quit, and yet there’s no conflict in taking the call.

Also, i think i saw you pop up in Conflict Corner today. If you heard me suggest that being the context is how we know something matters regardless of whether others want the same thing, then you probably heard me say something to the effect of “you have to trick-or-treat in order to get Halloween candy” and everyone said “no, you can go to Wal-Mart and buy it.” Well, true, but-and not to step on toes-there are a couple of reasons I’d say that response missed the point. One of them is that, despite the wording, I wasn’t justifying getting candy. I was justifying going trick-or-treating. The candy is just the justification for that.


That’s very interesting! (And I can see what you mean about the candy.)

I can definitely say that’s not how I’ve been looking at these justifications. I’ve been treating them as a “truism”, and the conflict / dilemma is that the whole truism can’t be true if the other one is.

But the process thing may be a good shortcut. I went back through a whole bunch of the justifications I’ve done, and as long I consider it in the context of my story/scene, I haven’t been able to find a counterexample (where both processes can coexist).


Reading through this, it’s easy to say that “I need to take this call in order to be a good husband unless I need to answer this text in order to be a good husband”. You can’t do both.

My follow up thoughts are: does this make it a scene about methodology? And, is this actually not a conflict, because the outcome is the same.

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Yeah, I think this holds as well. If the two processes can’t be true at once, then neither can the truisms. If the two processes can be true at once, then so can the truisms.

And I see what you mean. If you view the justification as a single truism and not a process and context, then theoretically you could conceivably find two truisms that both conflict and break down into two processes that can coexist but not two contexts that can, but in practice I can’t think of anything that works. Also, it seems like viewing the whole justification as one truism would cause you to lose the element that you’re trying to illustrate as a problem to begin with because the element would blend in to the context, if that makes sense.

The way I’ve been looking at it, your context justifies the process. In order to decide which process to use, you have to build up or tear down one of the justifications. Part of that seemed to be increasing or decreasing the value of one context or the other. If the contexts are exactly the same, then it would seem that either it wouldn’t matter (you can only do one and yet there’s no conflict between justifications because you get the context either way), or there’s still conflict and you have to increase or decrease the value of one process or the other. But changing the value of one of the processes just seems like it would be changing the context, in which case you could then build up or tear down one of the contexts back in step one, as it were.

It seems like the processes need to be incompatible to have a source of conflict while the contexts need to be different in order to raise or lower the value of one justification in order to decide which process to use.


I just watched the latest writers room and I am now thinking what I thought I understood, I don’t actually understand… It seemed like it was not two competing justifications but rather debunking one justification? I.e. You claim you want this in order to x but actually, it is in order to y.
That feels like just someone unravelling someone elses justification rather than two incompatible truisms?
So, before watching that I had this for my objective story. Am I way off?
Objective Story: How does ‘temporarily adopting a way of life’ cause conflict for everyone.
People should give up their way of life and live in a foreign culture in order to be together as a family whilst their children are young.
Unless that is impossible to sustain and ends up creating a dysfunctional family environment.

All you’re trying to do is create conflict. Conflict comes from trying to have two incompatible processes play out at the same time. Your story will try to have both, but it can’t. Anytime it does what is required to bring about the first statement, it’ll miss out on the second and vice versa. The formulas discussed here and in the writers room also make sure a given story appreciation is the source of conflict. Whichever formula works best for you is fine.

This actually reads to me like what you call unravelling a justification. It’s saying you need to do this to get that unless it gives you something else, in which case don’t do it.

You don’t want to say that you need to give up a way of life to be a family unless it doesn’t give you the family situation you want. You want to say that you need to give up a way of life unless you need to maintain a way life-or something you can’t do while while giving up a way of life. Maybe something like:

People should give up a way of life in order to be family unless they want to maintain a functioning environment.

Now what you have is a sort of moral imperative that people give up a way of life in order to be a family pitted against a personal value of maintaining the way of life one is already in. You can’t give up a way of life and maintain an already functioning environment at the same time. Now something has to go.


Thanks Greg, your perspective helps a lot. To me just unravelling the justification would be:
People should give up a way of life in order to be a family unless that’s just a way to justify controlling others (and not really about family at all).
That was the structure I got from the last lesson in the class which was something like
People want to be misled about their vices in order to continue taking drugs without feeling shame unless they just want to be told what to do.
To me that only makes sense if you add in unless ‘the real reason is’ they just want to be told what to do. It didnt feel like a conflict to me…
When I thought I most got this concept was in
the writers room on the king’s speech where one character wanted respect in order to maintain their status whilst seeking help and the other’s view was that if you do that, you wont be able to get what you really need, which is healing, because that requires equality (or something). I think the whole wants versus needs thing is common in other story theories and I could very likely be wrong but it doesnt seem incompatible with the justifications stuff.

People should temporarily adopt a lifestyle in order to be a family unless people need to be true to who they are in order to thrive.

If it helps, I’m trying to describe the dilemma of a selkie!!! The family need to be together on land in human form but being on land makes the mother (in my story) mentally ill, which actually makes everyone unhappy.

Thinly veiled autobiography of a woman home educating due to lockdown and going crazy :joy:

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I think this one works much better.
I think it’s going to be easy to say that one can be a family AND thrive, so there may be a way to word it to avoid that. But as far as creating conflict, people cannot temporarily adopt a lifestyle while also constantly, or steadily, being true to themselves. Since “being a family” and “thrive” are not the processes in question, but are there to justify the processes and tell us the context we miss out on by choosing one over the other, I don’t think the ability for these to coexist really defeat the conflict.

There’s a whole segment in that lesson where they discuss wanting to be misled for this reason or wanting to be misled for that reason and that didn’t click with me at all. It’s like those old beer commercials where they argue over whether they like the beer because it’s less filling or because it tastes great and the idea is that it’s both less filling AND tastes great. There’s really no conflict there.

Similarly, there doesn’t seem to me to be conflict between wanting to be misled to avoid shame and wanting to be misled to be told what to do. I think there would be conflict between wanting to be misled to avoid shame and wanting to be told what to do for some other reason in that you can have someone send you in the wrong direction, or you can have what someone is telling you to do BE your direction, if that makes sense. I personally think what’s confusing is looking at the UNLESS part as a second context rather than a second justification.

Just to take this a bit further, though, I would say that the statement “people can/want/need/should in order to x unless people can/want/need/should” IS offering two contexts. But they are two different types of context at two different levels. “In order to x” provides context for the first justification. And then the whole statement from the first justification all the way through the second justification provides context for conflict. And if we were to use the longer form of “people C/W/N/S in order to x unless people C/W/N/S in order to y”, then we have three contexts. Two separate contexts for two separate justifications and one context for conflict.


Yes, I think I am following you. This is so fascinating.

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I think you’re onto something here that may be leading to a lot of the confusion around conflict and what exactly it is. More on this in the next Conflict Corner.