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The challenge of no conflict

Bloganuary day 14! Today’s prompt is:

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

AHA! Now here is a prompt that lands extremely well in my world of writing. There have been a few writing challenges that I’ve faced and overcome.

However, the one probably most notable that was a game changer for my stories, was my inability to write conflict.

In Western story telling, there is no story if there is no conflict. I make the distinction of Western story telling because I am also studying other forms of storying telling where in fact there is no conflict (at least not the way we typically understand it) – but that’s a conversation for another day.

For today, the point is that I wrote a story, and while well received it was not of interest to the publishing world. This got me doing so digging and deep dives and my dear Emily helped to set me straight.

She asked me all the hard questions, the ones I couldn’t answer, and we got to the root of the problem with the story – it had no conflict. My protagonist wasn’t struggling to achieve her goals. Nothing was getting in her way. Which really made it more of a retelling of events, as opposed to a “story”.

The thing that makes the win so gratifying is when it’s preceded by loss or failure. On a personal level, I don’t fully love or embrace that concept. I’m also not a confrontational person. However, in further studying the stories that I really loved, the ones that had me on the edge of my seat or chewing my nails, the ones that have really stuck with me – are all ones that included some very solid conflict. 

It was through that learning that I also came to realize that conflict doesn’t always have to be war-sized or earth shattering. It simply needs to be something that gets completely in the way of the thing that my protagonist wants most. But it can’t be small enough that they can just go around it.

I won’t say that I’ve perfected the art of writing conflict yet, however, I do feel confident in saying that it is a challenge that I faced head on and figured out how to overcome it. I now understand the conflict a story needs and why it needs it.

Over to you! Could be something writing related – or not. Love to hear from you either way.

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