Saturday, August 15, 2009

Channel Session 1: Conflict

So, conflict . . . . We all know about conflict in stories, about how important it is. There are tons of articles out there, talking about it.

But you are the one writing the story. So, what do you view as conflict? What kinds do you like? What is the nature of conflict in your story? How does your character view and react to it? Well, let's see.


Osan, from my fantasy novelette, The One Who Sees, faces several conflicts during his story. But the one that he speaks of most strongly to me is not his mission to do what is right by one of the lost souls in his world, or even do what is right by his tribe who is war hungry, it is more personal than that. It goes back to family. It goes back to one thought, that beats like a heart in his head.

My family is dead . . . because of me.

This is painful for him. Although you might, by placing your head to his chest, hear his heart, you can't hear this thought inside him, but you can see it in his actions, see the pain seeping out, see how it is with him in every way. Ask him, and he would go back and change it. Ask him, and he goes back there in his mind anyway. To that day . . .

It was the Fever that came, the Fever struck them, but it was I who let death in to stay. The air blistered, as if on fire. It was everywhere. The fire, in our body, in our breath, in our heads. It made mother, full of life with the sister I am not allowed to remember, call out for Shaman. But it was the sister I am allowed to remember, Oki who lives for she is stronger than me, it was Oki whom my mother thought was coming. Oki, my twin.

And it was my brother, he who was first born and first dead before any of us, he whom I somehow remember, he whom I should not. It was my brother Olas she begged to get Shaman.

I did not get Shaman.

I cannot blame the Fever: I can only blame my fear.

My brother would have done better.

My brother would have saved them all.

It doesn't matter what he remembers, it all the same. He feared the shaman and administered aid to his family on his own.

His sister was not born. The others died. So did his mother and his uncle. This he knows. This he remembers. But most of all, he cannot forget that when he was twelve, three years from being made the man of the family with all the responsibility of taking care of his sisters that entails, he let his fear of the man with the cure defeat him.

He failed his family.


So, what is the nature of the conflict for Osan? It's with himself and the past; it is this failure that beats beneath every bit of his story.

What conflict lies at heart of your story? What conflict lies at the heart of your character?

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