Commit to Conflict

Some novelists and screenwriters that I work with are shy about conflict.

My sense is that’s partly because they don’t want to dumb their stories down with meaningless action or fall into the traps of popular culture, which features a lot of gratuitous—and sexist—violence. I hope I’m not being sexist myself when I say that, in my experience, more female than male writers are wary of conflict.

But conflict is essentially to storytelling and, if you want your story to be well-shaped and exciting, you’re going to want to ramp up it up at crucial points, including the Act 2 Culmination and Act 3 Climax.

And remember: if you’ve prepared the reader for these encounters—if you’ve created a credible emotional world, high stakes, and a fully-fleshed protagonist and antagonist—then these encounters will feel neither meaningless nor gratuitous.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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