Monday, April 4, 2011

C: Conflicts

Conflict can make or break a good book or a good movie. Great action movies have big external conflicts driving the plot forward. The list of conflicts is long including wars, money, politics, religion, the clash of

cultures or class or something less global like divorce, job or money issues. Lots of suspense and thriller fiction works focus on the external conflict. I enjoy many books of this type. I've read all Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels where the protagonist forms only temporary relationships with other people and the plot is usually about Reacher facing down some bad guys. It's all action but so clever and fast moving I don't mind there's little internal conflict.

Internal conflict though can leave a lasting emotional impact on the reader. The depth of the characters' struggle to overcome their inner demons and reach their dreams can leave a reader with a good feeling so hopefully they will buy another book by the same author. Or the failure of the characters to fulfill their secret most desire may keep the reader up at night, recounting what went wrong and the choices made by the protagonist.

I try to do this in my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. Inner conflict propels the hero forward into greater danger and involvement in a war he never wanted anything to do with. I try to balance both types of conflict to create a story that appeals to everyone who enjoys epic fantasy.

Do you like watching movies and reading books with more of external or internal conflict? What book or movie kept you up at night wishing you could rewrite the unforgettable ending?

17 comments:

  1. I like conflicts I haven't seen before. It's got to the point with most books/movies that I can see the problem a mile off and I know there's three or four possible outcomes, all of which I've seen before.

    -mood
    Moody Writing

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  2. I like a balance of both. That's why I like Preston & Child's character Pendergast - he's so conflicted that it really adds to the external conflict.

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  3. Fellow A to Z Challenger stopping by. Great topic! Conflict is the meat of the story, and without it, well...boring, boring, boring. I like internal conflict the best. I like to see a character have to change their mind about a personal issue in order to succeed.

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  4. I'm a big fan of internal conflict. That's a bit harder to see in movies, since you only know what the characters say.

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  5. I like both internal and external conflict. Conflict is what drives interest and keeps people turning the page. It probably is harder to maintain with internal conflict, but it can be done.

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  6. I need both.

    Thanks for the great reminder about the distinction between internal and external. I've been so caught up in editing that I forget to step back and ask--where's the conflict?

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  7. I find internal conflict so interesting, but only if I can identify.

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  8. I like a balance, especially in book where they can be developed.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  9. Wonderful perspective. I enjoy a balance of both, although I find that internal conflicts tend to move me much more than the external.

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  10. I like a balance too but I find that internal conflict is what makes my heart skip a beat.

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  11. Great topic! While most stories have obvious external conflicts, the internal is what turns it into a masterpiece. For example, the book/movie "Jaws." External...kill the shark. Internal...Brody's fear of water.

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  12. Alden Bell's Reapers are the Angels has a damn good dose of both types of conflict. Temple's conflict with Moses is underpinned by her inner conflict to overcome her guilt. An excellent read (plus there are zombies :P)

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  13. I think I do better with internal conflicts than external ones. I feel more in control somehow. Just stopping by from the a-z challenge to "meet" you.
    Karen

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  14. I like internal/emotional conflicts - think everyone can relate to them and 'feel' for the hero or heroine as they struggle through or past them.
    http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com/

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  15. OMG! I think you just nailed one of the reasons my books, while falling into the thriller genre plot-wise, never seem to quite fit! It's because I LOVE writing internal conflict! Maybe I should find a new genre. lol

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  16. Wonderful post. I enjoy a mix of the two. When internal conflict makes dealing with the external conflict that really draws me into the book and character more.

    I love the text on your blog about not flaming unless one is a real dragon. :)

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  17. Internal conflicts are so much more compelling because they're more universal. No matter how fantastic the settings, the feelings and emotions are (usually) very human and we can feel, suffer, empathize with the character.

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog. Happy writing!

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