Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Creative Art of Conflict

I'm cleaning up superfluous blogs from my past and so am about to delete the "Little Dozen Press" blog. There are a couple of posts I want to keep, so I'm moving them here. This was originally posted December 2005.

Writers and readers all, weigh in on the discussion... leave comments!

The dragon pulled itself up to its full scaly height as the knight tightened his grip on his sword; the homesteaders barred their doors as the sound of war whoops filled the air; the little boy looked defiantly into the face of the bully. The mother prayed for her child as she fought the ravages of smallpox, and the family hid the Jews away while the Nazis pounded on their door.

Cliched? Probably. But if you're a reader, you know what moments like the above can do to you. They make your heart pound and your palms sweat. They keep you up reading until two in the morning. They make you skip your dinner.

They make or break a story, because conflict is central to every enduring piece of fiction. Think about it--have you ever read a story that didn't make use of conflict? If you have, you've probably forgotten it. Frodo had his black riders. Anne of Green Gables had red hair, freckles, and a desperate need to belong. The Greatest Story of All (that of Jesus and His followers throughout the ages) is riddled with persecution, hardship, and the struggle to keep truth alive.

I used to think that conflict appealed to readers simply because it gives us an adrenaline rush. We thrive on thrills. But nowadays I lean toward another theory. We love to read about conflict because, just as it makes or breaks a story, conflict makes or breaks us. It's the hard times that cement our character, drive us to God, open our eyes. Without the fight, the victory means nothing.

Good stories have the power to encourage those who are struggling, to give hope and remind readers that happy endings really do exist. The use of conflict is not only a literary device, it's a commentary on life and the amazing truths that lurk within every circumstance.

Love is stronger than hate.
Happily ever after is real.
In the end, there is no night so dark that it won't see the sunrise.

Leave a comment. What think you?

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Blogger notweary said...

This is excellent! I don't read your writing often enough - every time I do I get a thrill from what you say and how you say it! You are so gifted and you use it well! Thanks.

3:50 a.m.  

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