Every good story has to have conflict, otherwise it’s not a story.
I remember many years ago when I was a student at Columbia College Chicago studying fiction writing, we sat in semi-circles in four-hour class sessions practicing all sorts of visualization and verbalization exercises to fertilize our imaginations, to develop our abilities to describe, on the fly, what we saw in our imaginations. What I always found lacking in Columbia’s method, however, was clear teaching about how to generate and resolve conflict. Surely, if you can’t write dialog, if you can’t set a scene, if you can’t immerse your readers in the world of your fiction, your fiction won’t be good. But if there is no conflict, then there is only description, which ultimately leads to boredom. I wrote many hundreds of pages describing characters, engaging them in dialog, showing their surroundings, and so on. But at the end of the day, I often asked myself, as did my teachers, “So what?”
So what was my writing about? What was the conflict? Why should I/we care about the characters I was creating? Where were they going? [Read more…]