When I first started taking a serious interest in creative writing years ago I joined a writing class in Islington, London. You know that one where you come out of your home on a rainy dark evening and trudge to the bus stop get soaking wet, yet still manage a smile when you arrive at the community college.
Yes folks that was me on numerous occasions joining like-minded people to learn the art and craft of fiction writing.
One of the first things I learned from those classes years ago was that when it comes to writing fiction whether it is a short story or a novel conflict is the very essence of fiction.
I remember having a problems with this concept at first and even took it up with the class and the teacher. I could not see why a story could not flow like you know ‘once upon a time…’ there, nice and easy. Who needs all that fuss anyway? Let me just say; that was at least twenty years ago and I have certainly learnt differently through years of writing, reading and doing more writing classes.
Let me repeat again conflict is the stuff of creative writing. Who would want to read a story about happy families, perfect romances or perfect crimes where the criminal comes across no opposition and gets away with it? No one would. Us writer/reader types like action, whether it is car chases or someone who simply prevents you from achieving what you want.
Let’s make-up an example of a house burglar in a run-of-the-mill petty crime novel. Let’s give him the name Jack. Jack has been breaking and entering homes in a sleepy English suburb and has been getting away with it for years. He encounters no opposition, does his crime and manages to evade the police, grows rich and old. Job done. Believe me you would not want to read more than a few pages of such a novel.
Now then, just suppose a fresh, recently recruited police officer comes on the scene and he or she is determined to crack down on local crime, one of which is house burglaries! Just suppose for moment their whole life evolves around their job, they have no spouse or much in the way of family: dedicated.
I hope you can now see the emergence of conflict. At some point our trusty old burglar Jack is going to cross paths with this new keen police officer and all of a sudden Jack’s run of good luck is going to disappear. As conflict grows in the story you will have the emergence of a plot and lots of action.
You can say in summery that conflict is opposition, someone or something prevents your main character from achieving their desired outcome. It makes for engaging reading and you never know if it’s a book, it might even become a bestseller!
Until next time, happy writing, S