I’m not sure if I talked about perspectives that people can have and how it can drive a story and create conflict. The subject has been on my mind all day today, and I decided that this post today would be dedicated to that. But first, I have a few things to mention.
First off, I totally forgot to title my post last night. Oops. I’ll have to go back and fix that. Second, I’ve decided to change my posting schedule. Since I’ve been getting off-schedule lately, I decided that the best way to roll with the punches was to change my schedule entirely. Starting next week, I will begin posting on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and either on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. So this means: one post on Tuesday. One post on Thursday. And then one post on my choice of either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I’m gonna keep rolling this schedule until I feel it necessary to change up my schedule again. Honestly, as long as I put up three blog posts per week (at minimum), then I’ll be happy and satisfied with myself. I may be bad with deadlines (one of the reasons why I would prefer to self-publish) but schedules DO help me. I LOVE planning out my day. That’s why I seem more disgruntled and irritated when I don’t get off at the time I need to. I hate being easily winded, and I’ve learned to go with the flow…but I feel like I would be far more productive with a set, unhindered plan. However, most plans don’t last the battlefield, so I’m forced to accept it either way. I’m hoping that the big change in July will hopefully restore my creative drive and motivation.
Lastly, my fried mac-n-cheese bites actually turned out pretty good. A little too dry, sadly, and I accidentally let the mac-n-cheese freeze for too long. My solution next time will be more milk and butter, and maybe even melt in some extra cheese.
Anyways, enough of my blethering. Let’s get to the subject at hand.
The thing I love the most about the human race is the fact that we all think differently, yet alike, at the same time. One of the things that can set us apart or alike each other is how we all see things. Our opinions. Our perspectives.
Conflicting interests, opinions, perspectives, motivations, and objectives are usually good vehicles for creating and following conflict. Both in real life, and in fiction. If you guys have seen the recent MCU movie, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, you guys will get an idea of what I’m talking about. I find it fascinating that people with different opinions and behaviors can fight a lot, but still consider each other as kin–as family. Conflicts can be interesting, and reveal more about a person or character–a side that you never knew about them. Like, for example, taking from GotG: Vol 2 (and, btw, SPOILERS AHEAD), we learn about how Draxx really feels about losing his family. We learn how Rocket really feels, and why he acts like the way he does, pushing everyone away and trying to be mean. We even learn about Yondu, and how much of a father he really feels to Peter, and the true reason why he and his crew of Ravagers never delivered Peter to his real “fgather” like they were supposed to. We learn a little more about nearly every central character from the GotG movie series, and I adored Vol. 2 because of it.
Now I know some of you are thinking (because I wondered the same thing for a while, since I’m not good at creating and writing conflict): “We know conflict can be good for character development, plot progression, and character interaction. But how can I get it started?”
Well, my dear reader, that’s what my question was, too. A lot of the answers will vary between writer-to writer (by the way, I would love to hear your personal answers to this question in the comments!), but I can offer a few guidelines.
- #1: Know your story: When writing a story, you have to know it like the back of your own hands, feet, and toes. Lore, environment, characters, whatever. Whether it be fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, romance, teen drama, etc. Know what you’re trying to write, and if possible, plan out base, loose ideas for conflicts ahead of time. A little planning never hurt anyone.
- #2: Get inside your characters’ heads: I read a post on this very site arguing that characters can’t just “write themselves” or “get away from the author”, because we write and dictate the characters. However, I have to disagree with this…although, not entirely. Again, it depends on the author (or illustrator). Writing some character will come more naturally than writing others. For me, Oracle is the easiest to write. I always have a lot of fun writing her scenes, and I love giving her a chance to shine. Writing her, someone who is very smart and capable, but still casual, and able to make mistakes, and even feel insecure about herself and her disability, comes very natural to me. More often than not, the scenes of her end up becoming longer and more in-depth than I originally planned. When writing a story or series, a colorful spectrum of characters should be your primary goal. When it comes to conflict, it will be your job to get inside the heads of each and every character involved. Or, even if they’re not involved. Think extensively about the conflict, your character’s point of view, and any other factors that you can determine that has shaped a character’s way of thinking. Examples from real life can help a lot, here. Talk to your friends, your family, hell, even strangers, if you’re more social than me. If you trust the person enough, or feel comfortable enough with them, then present the exact scenario that you are planning on interjecting into your story. Even if they share the same opinions, there are minute differences that you can play off of, and find a balance to. It’s perfectly fine to use real people–as well yourself, and other fictional characters from other works–as examples, and a good platform to create your character’s mindset. From the petty to the complex.
- #3: Improvise: The opposite from #1, but for some people, including myself, this works the best. Some people do better when they just sit down, and just start writing, no matter what the end result is. People (and characters) can be impulsive. Not everyone is going to think things through before acting. Not everyone sees the whole picture. Someone with very impulsive behaviors are just as realistic as someone who might even over-think things. And it’s also realistic for people to be in the middle: very thoughtful in their thoughts or actions normally, but can be thoughtless and impulsive during certain situations or states of mind. The reverse if true: people can been impulsive during their day-to-day life, but can put real though and consideration during certain situations. Here’s what I suggest: come up with a conflict (no matter how realistic), a couple of characters (as many as you desire, as long as there’s more than one, unless you wanna delve into multiple personalities), and just start writing. Take away what you (and maybe some of your peers) like, and abandon things that you may not find so favorable.
- #4: “Social Experiments”: If you’re not like me and have a large group of friends, then this may work out in your favor. This can be a good way to discover how people can view things differently, and have things they can let slide…and things they find downright unforgivable. The easiest way to do this is to share a piece of media with your friends (YouTube/tv show/anime/video game/movie/comic books/manga/novels/etc) and observe their reactions (while giving your own, of course. Maybe this would be a good bonding time for you and your buddies). Don’t worry about how much you may disagree. Remember that your friendship expands from beyond the petty piece of media, and that conflict and disagreement can be healthy, and even humorous! This is great brain and creative power, especially when taking into the fact that many characters most pieces of media are slightly reminiscent of the people around the creator’s life. Even people you come across and disliked, or even hated will have an impact. Sometimes, writing can be the greatest form of release.
- #5: Be a spy…or, be in the thick of the action: Do you like eavesdropping? No? Yes? Either way, for an introvert like me, it can be the closest to real human dialogue that we can log in for later. I know it sounds creepy and stalker-ish, but sometimes, being an observer is the best course of action. On the opposite side, interjecting yourself into situations can give you much-needed experiences. No matter what route you choose, you will come out of it with a better idea on how people clash and collide.
Conflict isn’t easy for some to write (especially if you’re passive-aggressive like myself) but it can be an interesting way to carry your story and narrative, and help your characters grow.