Tuesday, April 5, 2011

c is for conflict

Conflict is one of three necessary features of a story. As Janet Burroway* says, "Only trouble is interesting." After all, how interested would you be in a story of a vampire and a mortal who, after being turned against his will, is just thrilled to have Lestat as his new best friend (Interview with the Vampire), or a beautiful girl who marries a farmboy and lives happily ever after (The Princess Bride), or a wizard who unleashes something horrific but suffers no consequences (A Wizard of Earthsea). What readers want is a war, something worth fighting over, and the fight has to escalate until the last, final battle. Afterwards, everyone walks away (or is carried away, depending...) and the conflict ends with a "significant and permanent change - which is the definition, in fiction, of a resolution."

A Wizard of Earthsea is classic Fantasy written by a master, Ursula LeGuin - oh, to be that good...

ps tomorrow is the last first impression of the month - an action packed thriller that reminded me a little of Miami Vice. Then it's back to a-z until the end of the month.

Burroway, Janet, Writing Fiction - A Guide to the Narrative Craft (fourth edition), Harper Collins, 1996, p. 31-39.


  1. Conflict definitly drives a story onwards!!

    Take care

  2. I am ALWAYS looking for new reading prospects.

    In return, I suggest the Kitty series by Carrie Vaughn.

  3. Hi, Good post...I am a long time fan of science fiction, along with historical fiction, and mysteries. Thanks. Ruby

  4. This book is sort of like the bible of fantasy to me. And YES! conflict is required for anything of interest to unfold!

  5. I MUST read that book :) Great post! I know we need conflict but sometimes I just want to give my poor characters a break and let them sleep on the sofa for a chapter or two...

  6. Earthsea is truly a masterpiece. And conflict. Very very necisary indeed. No rest for the protagonist.


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