by Peggy Bechko
Writers know how important conflict is to a story; without conflict there simply is no story to tell. And, as we’ve all learned Conflict breaks down as Protagonist’s goal plus some kind of obstacle equals that coveted conflict. Yep, there it is. A character wants something…really really bad. He wants it in the overarching story and he (or she) wants it in every scene. Doesn’t matter if it’s script of manuscript – or for that matter advertising copy.
The thing that comes next is that obstacle or obstacles. Obstacles that are provided by the antagonist as a character or as a force of nature or whatever. It provides the stumbling block that keeps the ‘hero’/’heroine’ from achieving the goal that dangles out there like the proverbial carrot on a stick.
That’s it. That’s the beginning. That’s your story, but wait, is it?
Want to kick it up a notch? Want to make it really pop? Then next time you’re writing think about adding layers. Make it complicated. Amplify the conflict. Create chaos.
Think about it. A buddy story. A city copy is on the trail of a serial killer in a national park and is teamed up with a park ranger. The city cop is out of his element away from the concrete and the ranger has never dealt with law enforcement. The guys got a lead and they’re after him. He might double back and try to kill them both. That’s a story, right?
Well, what if there’s a big ol grizzly out there as well. One that the Park Ranger had to shoot some time back because it was attacking a campsite full of campers and had two toes blown off before it escaped and disappeared? It’s coming after the Ranger and anything that gets in its way is toast.
Now there’s a pot that really stirring. The pursuers are also the pursued.
Think about the Lord of The Rings movies. That exact tactic is used frequently.
Ponder the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz. The main character, Odd Thomas, is always seeing things he shouldn’t, trying to fix things and always endangered by something after him. Throw in a bunch of dark humor. Life is complicated.
And the more complicated it gets the more the main character is forced to improvise to work out new ways of getting to that goal…and those new ways can (and usually do) cause even more complications.
It’s plain that the hero’s actions will cause the main conflict of the story to inflate even further. The bubble grows larger and thinner and the reader or audience hold their breath awaiting the big bang. It can be emotional. It can be physical. Whichever or both, it must be breathtaking.
If the writer makes it a habit of never letting the hero or heroine off easy – if the character is hit from one side, then another while fighting to overcome those obstacles to reach the goal -then you’ve got a story that’ll grab the reader or watcher by the eyeballs and not let them go until the story skids to a complete stop with the culmination of pursue and pursuit in a big bang finish that’ll leave everyone, including you as the writer, breathless.
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page