Building Conflict

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You have the white chess pieces on one side and the black on the other, now it is time to build conflict. Time to squeeze the hero because this will force him/her/them to move. It is time for strategy and advancement.

As the norm, it is typically one hero, one opponent. It makes it easier to work the story, but it has its limitations. You, as the reader, are unable to dig deeper into the conflict and see your hero and opponent work within a larger society. Build a chess board of characters, not just one on one.

This queen is gonna run and get a fresh cuppa and my breakfast nibble. It’s boring. Oatmeal and an apple. But it will give me what I need to keep working for you. If you, my bishops, knights, and pawns, are wanting to search the cabinets help yourself. There are some yummies in there. I will roll out our reading rug and fluff some pillows while you gather your things. Don’t forget your copy of The Anatomy of Story by John Trudy. We are currently on page 94 and moving forward. Wanna come along? Hit the follow button and you will receive this awesome blog in your email. Wouldn’t that be nice, convenient even?

Key Point: (per Mr. Trudy) A simplistic opposition between two characters kills any chance at depth, complexity, or the reality of human life in your story. For that, you need a web of opposition. A chess board of characters.

Four-Corner Opposition

In this technique you create a hero, a main opponent, plus two secondary opponents. To make the story even more interesting, make sure your ‘extra’ bad guys serve a purpose in the plot. I hate a bunch of characters that just sit in the corner and do nothing. It’s like, ‘Why are you even here and why do you have a name if I will only read it once? Argh.’ Ya know what I mean, right?

Okay, grab a sheet of paper and a writing utensil. Draw a box.Very good. Place your hero on one corner and opponents on the other three. Look at you! You are sooooo smart. Now draw arrows of opposition. That would be one from the hero to each opponent and from each opponent to the other bad guys.

Fun! It’s arts and crafts time! Color it in if it makes you happy. I did.

Five Rules

  1. Each opponent should use a different way of attacking the hero’s great weakness. *Attacking the hero’s weakness is key in the story so ensure your opponents pick at it in very different ways. Think about it- there is the mental attack, physical, attacking those the hero loves, and money. Assign one to each opponent and build around it.
  2. Don’t limit the conflict with the hero. Opponents can attack opponents. * Business is a good one here. They can all be competing for the same contract and are willing to do anything to stop the other. Maybe multiple things are going on at the same time. Business attack by one while another is trying to steal their love.
  3. Put the values of all four characters in conflict. * When your hero experiences character change, he challenges and changes basic beliefs. This leads to a new moral code. Who’s to say your opponents can’t experience the same thing? Bad guys can change to see through the eyes of your hero, or they become substantially worse and willing to blow up the planet. * This can increase your story’s scope. The four-corner opposition allows the fights to expand to all corners. Top right fights hero and bad guy on lower left and so on.
  4. Push the characters to the corners. * This means you make each character as different as possible in their own corner. Race, creed, religion, job, education and more.
  5. Extend the four-corner pattern to every level of the story. * A good example here is The Godfather. Think about the levels of conflict between family members, other families, law enforcement, and the community at large.

Well, that was fun! We got to draw boxes and arrows and color them in if we wanted. Wow- next time we will be doing a writing exercise. We will be working on Creating Your Characters. I will cover multiple steps so that will be a post you will want to print off to follow later.

Until then…

Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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Published by Ticia Rani

I am...interesting. I am a writer, dreamer, mom, wife, veteran, friend, villain, and the wearer of many hats, but I don't look good in hats- go figure. I LOVE TO WRITE. I want to tell stories. I want to make you laugh, cry, and scare the crap out of you, and make you ask "why the hell did you do that?" I want to make you cheer my characters on or want to shake the crap out of them for things they say and/or do. I want to bring you along for the ride. Ready? Set?...READ!!!

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