Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breakthrough Blog Tour - Conflict

Thank you to everyone for taking part in the quiz yesterday! As its creator, I admit the results might have been slightly skewed -- and by slightly, I mean there was only one possible outcome: romantic comedy! So I do look forward to seeing Alex Cavanaugh and Matthew Rush embrace their new genre with passion.

Today I'm delighted to welcome Stephen Tremp on the latest leg of his blog tour. Every post of Stephen's I've read has been full of useful advice and this one's no different! Take it away, Stephen.

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” - Thomas Paine

Authors love to incorporate conflict not only into their stories, but into the very fabric of their characters. It is conflict that drives the plot forward and engages the reader. The more adverse the conflict is, or a state of opposition, the more rewarding the victory is to the overcomers.

According to Gillian Roberts in You Can Write A Mystery, the fundamental element of all drama is conflict, a clash between good an evil. Life vs. death. Law vs. disorder. There are internal and external conflicts and personality conflicts with people of different goals, hostile witnesses, uncooperative employees, or frustrating red tape. Murder is often the “crime of choice” as it is the ultimate offense and “therefore produces the most absolute and unequivocal conflicts.” But conflict can manifest in numerous other less-violent forms, as long as it wrongs the accepted norms of a society or individuals. Gillain suggests the two sides of conflict be equally weighted (easier said than done). The protagonist should be the mental equal of the antagonist. Otherwise, it’s an unfair fight or a rout rather than a difficult quest and the tension would be reduced.

Internal conflict, or the conflict that takes place within the mind if a character, and external conflict, the struggle against some outside force, can be deciding factors as to what separates a good story from a great story. The protagonist has to meet a challenge and conquer it. But it’s hard if not seemingly impossible. He’s repeatedly foiled time and again along his journey, but must press forward. There is also conflict between individuals and their interactions, whether they are friend or foe. Characters can have differing goals. There can be hostile witnesses or frustrating beaurocracy and red tape.

Conflict also offers the author the opportunity to weave into the plot twists and turns that will keep the reader up late at night, turning the pages. When the protagonist, antagonist, or other characters overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the author can take advantage of the opportunity to bamboozle the reader by shifting the plot and make an unexpected sharp left or right turn.

Utilitarianism, or conduct directed toward promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of people, provides an excellent opportunity for an author to implement the element of internal and eternal conflict. Throughout history, men and women in positions of authority, during exceedingly excruciating circumstances, have had to make utilitarian decisions that affect countless lives and history itself. During World War II, Allied decision makers had to sacrifice entire towns and cities in order to take one more step toward winning the war. Dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to save literally millions of American and Japanese casualties would be another extreme example.

In my book Breakthrough, Chase Manhattan’s utilitarian decisions may seem to be on a much smaller scale. However, as the Breakthrough trilogy progresses, we see a Pandora’s Box that is opened and the key is the discovery of wormholes. Indeed, a seemingly innocent breakthrough that can benefit mankind can instead threaten life as we know it and send us back to the dark ages. The protagonist must overcome his own internal and external conflict if he is to stop the madness and destroy this breakthrough discovery.

Please join me tomorrow as I visit L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips for Researching the Research.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders.

33 comments:

  1. Great points! Conflict brings out the essence of the character... when we really get to know who he/she is.

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  2. Great tips Stephen, glad you're getting through your tour.

    Have a great day,
    Yvonne,

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  3. Way to go Stephen!!! What a great accomplishment to have your book out there!

    PS - You know I love the cover!

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  4. Thanks lovely Talli for hosting the very profound Stephen Tremp!! Conflict is at the heart of all fiction whether in big brush strokes or in quiet internal moments. It's the emotional heart of a story - without it there is no narrative! I cannot agree more with this fab post! Thanks! Take care and good luck with Breakthrough! Take care
    x

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  5. Great thoughts on conflict. Even the most internal, personal character conflicts have a way of really driving a story, especially in a way the reader can relate to.

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  6. hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

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  7. Great thoughts on conflict. Love the cover!

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  8. I prefer conflict in my books to conflict in real life. :)

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  9. Waking up again to an excellent cup of coffee and excellent comments. Thanks Talli for hosting me and thanks to everyone stopping by!

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  10. Interesting thoughts on conflict. It really is the crux of the story!

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  11. Talli,
    Thank you for explaining what I suspected -- especially when I saw that Alex had changed genres!

    Stephen,
    Great Thomas Paine quote! Yes, the more conflict there is, the more drama, action, tension to make the reader turn the page.

    I'm really enjoying your blog tour, Stephen.

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  12. Excellent post as always Stephen. thanks for hosting Talli. I have a DroidX...ohhh, ahhhh, cool. Now I will be able to buy e-books come payday and you're on the list Stephen.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  13. wow I think i have to print this out.

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  14. I can't believe you rigged it! LOLOLOL!!!

    And go Stephen! Great to see you around all my favourite blogs. Think I'm gonna have to go and purchase your book ;o)

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  15. Wow! Great post on conflict. You covered all the bases and then some I haven't even thought about. Thanks!

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  16. I love conflict! It gets me through the day. I've gone back and now I'm starting to read from the beginning.

    CD

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  17. I've found that developing conflict is much easier than I thought. For my next two installments to the Breakthrough trilogy I'm working on internal conflict and group dynamics as the protagonist (Chase) and antagonist (Nicky) have a small group of friends they work with. The external conflict is already in place.

    Now I'm going back and adding challenges that strain relationships within the two groups that they will have to overcome if they are to move forward. So its not just Chase and Nicky frustrating each other. Its also people on their respective groups too.

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  18. Another great post Stephen. Characters without conflict aren't usually very interesting. Good luck on your tour.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  19. Yes, what would a novel be without a big dose of conflict! Thanks Stephen for this post and thanks Talli for hosting..:)

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  20. Good points, Stephen and thanks for hosting, Talli!

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  21. All good points, thanks, Stephen and Talli!

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  22. Excellent points. Conflict is integral - in both the characters and the plot. :)

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  23. Another great post - I'm really enjoying Stephen's blog tour! One thing I love to read AND to write is great conflict - that's what makes me turn pages.

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  24. I do read some books from famous authors and there just isn't much conflict other than the first few chapters and the last ones. Then 300 pages in the middle consisting of fluff. Not much happens.

    My theory is that these authors are under contract with the publisher to write X amount of books each year. So they have a decent idea but rush through writing the MS at the expense of conflict, action, and character development.

    Okay, I'll name one. Daniel Silva's Moscow Rules. I like Daniel Silva, but this book lacked anything of significance for the middle 300 pages. No conflict or anything. Just dialogue and narration. I liken this to a CD with a great opening and ending song, then seven or eight songs in the middle that are not very good and nobody listens to them.

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  25. Another excellent blog tour post, Stephen! It's been so great receiving this tips and learning more about your book! Thanks!

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  26. My writer's group is always telling me I need more conflict in my story and in my characters, but it's so hard for me because I hate confrontation. Why don't people want to read about happy people who get along with everyone all the time?

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  27. Thanks, Stephen, for a great post!

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  28. Thanks Talli for hostine me! And thanks to everyone who stopped by. Its always great to meet new bloggers. Hope to see you again!

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  30. Hi Talli and Steve .. another thought provoking post on how you build the characters and the plot up .. as you say conflict can take many forms .. and the law of unintended consequences is always interesting ..

    Thanks Talli - have a good chocolate stoking weekend in your own countdown, and Stephen perhaps a brief rest?! Enjoy - Hilary

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Coffee and wine for all!