Oct Tool Box: Plot and Conflict

Conflict is plot, but not all plot is conflict. Plot is the struggle between character and conflict; the struggle is the plot. Remember the foundations stones of story: character, (in) conflict, plot, structure. Within these foundations, plot is what happens (a linked series of events) and conflicts (you can be sure there will be more than one) are the obstacles that face the character. Plot = struggle between character and conflict which leads to resolution.

Plot and conflict need to interweave with character and structure.

This all sounds simple. It’s not. You can have a story that has a character wandering through the pages, who does things, says things, sees things, but doesn’t struggle. How then does that character change? Grow? The story would be boring. The character must struggle, act, move, strive. They must feel the consequences of their actions, even if they don’t see them.

The rhythm and beat of each scene that builds each element of conflict into the plot arc must escalate, grow, reach a climax. This is what creates interest. Find the power spot, the hot spot for each element of the story, build it into the plot arc, show the character in their struggles against conflicts, big and small, internal and external, forced on them and of their own making.

Story is like music: it has a beat and rhythm. Find the rhythm of the conflicts that march along the plot line and see how your music reaches a crescendo, a climax, a crisis point. Feel it as it finds its calm moments, its eddies, its build-up, and most importantly, feel the power of the moment of choice that leads to the point of no return.

A final note on the definition of story:

A story is a character (person) struggling (plot) to resolve a conflict. It has four elements:

Plot + character + conflict + structure building towards a resolution.

The main character must struggle for something that is of importance. Story without struggle and conflict is not a story. Story without character and plot is not a story. The four elements must be in there for the piece of work to be a story.

And that’s my two bob’s worth. See you on 16 Oct for critique.



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