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Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Role of Conflict in Fiction

The role of conflict in fiction is to hold the reader's attention when two opposing forces clash or disagree in their created "World". Conflict is a major element in the presentation of interesting fiction. Conflict is a quarrel or struggle, according to the dictionary. The same concept applies to fiction.
  • When two characters have differing opinions conflict arises.
  • It spirals out of control each time the characters cross paths.
  • There isn't an easy answer.
Simple Conflicts Can Be Spun into Fiction

A person's alarm clock didn't ring-out which causes conflict in everyday life. The idea of being late for work or school can elevate stress levels, push you to rush while driving. You are focused on getting to a specific place and not on driving which leads to accidents. A character in that situation may react as follows.
  • A character may speed up to avoid another reckless character.
  • Take down a license plate number and try to locate the driver.
  • Start a possible revenge campaign.
Creating Character Conflicts

The role of conflict in fiction is to make the conflict more interesting than in real life. Sure, pluck some ideas from real life but stir-in chaos too for successful fiction. Let's take a look at my character Reeva. Reeva met Bill indirectly when the two stood in a grocery store line listening a customer's love-life. The characters weren't familiar with each other.
  • Reeva shook her head but looked forward.
  • Bill coughed and muttered a few words.
  • Reeva didn't acknowledge him.
 A Character's Ego

The idea of Reeva not turning around to remark about Bill's words or say anything was un-heard of to him. Everyone liked Bill who cheated and lied his way into lives. Besides, he wasn't above doing anything to get his way. In that moment, Bill decided to stalk Reeva.  

  • Bill followed Reeva home from the store.
  • The smile on his face was from ear to ear.
  • Bill started going to Reeva's apartment building just to stare.

The stalking of Reeva has Bill thinking that he has a relationship with her. He has gone beyond staring at her. He knows what time she gets up for work as well as when she returns home. Bill has gone into Reeva's apartment to touch her belongings.

  • Reeva noticed clothes in her closet were re-arranged. 
  • Dishes left in the sink washed.
  • She'd awaken to a turned off alarm clock.
 Reeva's Plight

Reeva has told family and friends about what has been happening. She was advised to change her door locks, move and/or call the police. She doubts the police will believe her, and she has no proof. Reeva isn't sleeping well. On this particular night, a noise pulls her to full consciousness.
  • Reeva jumps to her feet.
  • She grabs one of the 5" heels.
  • She moves toward where the noise originated. 
The Noise

Bill had been sneaking into Reeva's apartment for about 2 months without being caught. He has watched her sleep, even stolen through her personal belongings. Still, the 30-year-old couldn't find the courage to address Reeva or introduce himself.  
  • Reeva finds everything in its place.
  • She manages to go back to sleep.
  • She wakes up late and takes the day off.
Reeva Goes to the Store 
Reeva washes clothes in the apartment's laundry room. She dusts and cleans. She tires of sitting home and goes out to the store. Or, she just wants to get away from the apartment. She grabs her hand-bag and leaves. Bill has moved into the apartment under Reeva's, knows where she shops and follows her.   

  • She sees Bill at the Less-Everything Store.
  • He pretends to look at an item.
  • Reeva runs in and out of different stores.
Bill Makes His Move 

Bill shows-up at the last store Reeva visits. She recognizes him but isn't sure from where. Reeva backs up as though she's uncomfortable. She grabs her few bags with items and departs. She looked behind her several times. 
  • Bill catches up with Reeva and tries to start a conversation with her.
  • Reeva speaks and moves away from Bill.
  • Reeva wants nothing to do with him.
Moved Furniture

 A few days passed without major incident. Reeva took a nap to get up earlier than usual to bake cookies for the party at work. Bill walks in as she's in the kitchen. Reeva runs to her bedroom with Bill following. He reaches for her. She falls, lands on her shoes and wraps her fingers around a five-inch heel.  
  • He drags her to him as she screams.
  • She tries to wiggle free, kicks.
  • Bill pulls Reeva up with her hair.

The Struggle Continues

Reeva asks what he wants, why and how did he get into her apartment. Bill kicks her and she moans. She slowly raises the high heel shoe and stabs him in the eye. Bill pushes Reeva and she falls to the floor. He howlers as he snatches the shoe from his eye.     
  • He steps on Reeva's body as he palms one eye.
  • Reeva rolls around the floor.
  • Bill stumbles as Reeva stands.

Bill is dazed, throwing words of ill-repute at Reeva. He searches for the door. Reeva heads for the bedroom to get her cell phone. She dials nine-one-one. She hears a big boom as she talking to the nine-one-one operator. She looks-up to see Bill charging at her.   
  • She drops the cell phone.
  • Reeva hops up and begins throwing bottles of cologne and fingernail polish.   
  • Bill in an effort to avoid them bumps into the wall, head first and falls-over.
The role of conflict in fiction requires a resolution too. It may not be a happy ending, but there must be a resolution. The resolution should come from the characters involved with he disagreement. In other words, it wouldn't be fair to readers or ring true if a neighbor just walking by ran into Reeva's apartment to save her.     

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Marcella Glenn is a freelance writer who has written news reports, worked in an office, reviewed movies, published a newsletter and had her novel, "Grave Street House," published. She, too, is a Writing Consultant as well as a Personal Coach.

She has tried to go down some of life's other paths. A few paths were a mail-order business, the publishing of a pen-pal newsletter and selling plastic-ware. Only, she was back writing before realizing what she was doing.

She'd critique titles, paragraphs, news reports, that no one submitted to her. She'd stop herself, eventually. Marcella Glenn seemed to be enjoying the act of writing. This is how she knew writing was more than a hobby.

Let it be a lesson in your life too. Is writing calling your name? Or, acting? Teaching? Are you interested in engineering? Have the courage to go for your dreams. Simply, believe in yourself.

Meet Marcella Glenn on Twitter:

Grave Street House Interview
Authors Show Radio Announces Interview Lineup For Week Of February 16, 2009
Internet Radio features five new authors each week
February 16, 2009
Every week, The Authors Show, radio version features interviews with up and coming authors from around the world. This week The Authors Show radio features Marcella Glenn, author of  'Grave Street House'.

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