Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Anger Is Not Conflict

One of the things I have been seeing a lot in many of the submissions is another misunderstanding of the concept of conflict. We have talked about this in the past, but today, I want to focus in on the use of emotion.

What authors have been doing a lot of is thinking that anger is a form of conflict. They start out with the hero and heroine angry with each other about something and then spend the entire plot just overcoming the anger. While this might seem like conflict, the emotion itself is not. Remember that conflict is something that is really standing in the way of the characters achieving their goal. Just being angry is not enough.

It is also important to know that anger does not have to be the only emotional reaction to the conflict preventing the characters of that forward movement. It might be confusion, or frustration.

Let's try it this way. Two characters are fighting for the same position in a company. Only one of the two of them will get the job. The conflict here is how they will win the position. If it is a romance, now we add in the twist that if they are falling for each other, how will they resolve the situation. This is a true conflict! Someone will win and someone will lose, or maybe they both lose something. When it comes to the emotions, yes, they can be angry that the other person is using the relationship to get something. But we can also have a jealousy issue if one is getting more favoritism from the upper level management. We might also get frustration that nothing is going the way they want. We might also get confusion if they are mixing up their their thoughts at work and their thoughts in their personal life.

Look, I get taking the anger approach is the easiest solution, but it is not always the most accurate approach. It might also not give the characters the depth you want.

Play around with this on your current WIP and let me know how it goes!

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