1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

My Conflict Conflict [Or rather, My problem with conflicts]

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by UnknownCause, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. UnknownCause

    UnknownCause Dreamer

    I've been developing this one book for a while now.
    But I've got a problem. Well, A couple problems.
    First off, is it okay to have more then one conflict? I'm wondering, would it confuse the reader if there was more then one major struggle, or would it make the world and characters more complex and three-dimensional? For my specific purpose, I was thinking man vs himself and man vs society.
    My second problem is a bit more urgent. How do I introduce a major conflict? I want to have a sense of subtlety, yet at the same time, I can't take the whole book to introduce it -.-

    If you can help, thanks.
    [Helping also counts as leaving links in the replies section]
  2. teacup

    teacup Auror

    I really don't see readers being confused by multiple conflicts. Assume your readers are intelligent, and write. I think having more than one conflict will likely make the story better.

    As to your second question, a lot of it depends on what the conflict is and how your story is set out. Follow your plot - if the major conflict isn't supposed to be shown so early on, get on with the plot leading up to it, and write in hints or have the plot show things leading up to the introduction.

    For example, let's say the major conflict is a war with another kingdom. If you want to be subtle, you could drop hints about the people of kingdom 1 disliking those of kingdom 2. To be less subtle you could show a battle, but maybe leave the reason to the battle untold, leading on until it's revealed the battle was a part of the war.
    There will be better ways of this but I just wrote the first 2 examples to come to mind.
  3. UnknownCause

    UnknownCause Dreamer

    Your examples are good ones, and thank you for your help.
    I do, however, disagree with your notion of starting with an action scene.
    If there is a battle going on, but no characters are developed yet, why would I care about a battle? I don't know who is fighting or why, if they're the antagonist or protagonist, or even if this battle is relevant to the plot. [This does not apply to prologues, but seriously, who does prologues?]
    Not meaning to be rude at all, just stating my opinion.
  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    One good way of having multiple conflicts without confusion is to vary the types of conflict. My WIP Tenth Realm has two worlds clashing as the main conflict, and a subplot involving the MC rejecting the ways of his society and the struggles he faces therein. The two are distinct, and yet inescapably intertwined, because the clashing of worlds and the effects it has on the people involved is ultimately the root of the MC's rebellion.
  5. teacup

    teacup Auror


    I agree with you. I didn't mean to start it off with a battle, but I do think a beginning should hook a reader as soon as possible. I meant that if your conflict was a war, having a battle sometime before the war is explicitly stated is one of your choices of how to write the story.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Of course you can have more than one conflict. Each story can have multiple subpots and each of those brings conflict with it. I generally group things into three different types of conflict. Plot/Subplot level conflict. Internal/personal conflict, and scene level conflict. The first two kind of line up with man vs. society and man vs. himself. The third one I mention is conflict in a scene that doesn't necessarily fit into the first two and doesn't really matter to the over all story. It's there to spice up the scene. It's there to poke the protagonist. It's generally something simple like they want a sandwich but they keep on getting interrupted by work, so they can't get one.

    To introduce the conflict, any conflict, you just have to think of a small scale situation that is representative of the conflict as a whole. Let's use the opening scene from Star Wars A New Hope. (I tend to use examples of Star Wars alot :p) Even without reading the famous craw, a person can understand the situation just based on how it's presented in the opening few scenes.

    Small rebel ship being chased by a massive star destroyer. This shows the might of the Empire vs the Rebels. When C3P0 says something to the effect "The Princess won't get away this time." Implies this struggle isn't new and she's done things like this multiple times. When Princess Leia finally faces Vader, he's dress all in black and she's dressed in white. Classic villain and hero colors. Side note, notice later Han Solo is dressed in black and white showing he's supposed to be a gray character. Any way. The Princess says she's on a diplomatic mission. Vader's disregard for the rights of a diplomatic ship and it's mission, false as it may be, shows what the Empire is willing to do to stop the rebels. It also shows the weakness of the senate because Vader can get away with this without fear of consequences.
    Jabrosky likes this.
  7. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Koi Kaze is about love and society, so it begins with a woman breaking up with her boyfriend and him unable to care. Yellow Peril is about success, individuality, and how the two get in each other's way, so it begins with a worker who's bad at office politics being passed over for a promotion . . . Agh, I can't think of a third example off the top of my head, but take my word for it, it works.

    I should note that there's another solution that works well. Some works, particularly those intended for children, directly explain the conflict to the audience. This is a good example of how that normally goes. You don't see that much in fiction for adults, though--I guess it's considered too much telling and not enough showing.

Share This Page