For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is OPPOSITION.
As a writer who's still trying to learn all I can about writing, one of the things I keep coming across is that the basis for all effective drama is conflict. To hold my reader I have to incorporate conflict, tension, striving against outside forces or inner demons, risk, stakes, and other elements that basically boil down to the same thing – opposition. It doesn't have to be that THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE hinges on every minor detail of my story, but there better be elements of conflict and opposition, even if it's only at the inner emotional level within a single character.
OK, I get it, and actually, I agree. To make for interesting reading, I need to make characters, scenes, and plot elements that highlight tension, conflict, and opposition.
Who wants to read a story about an average guy with a happy life who does average things and everyone around him is happy, and in the end, everything turns out ordinary and happy?
Not a very interesting story idea, I'm afraid.
But sometimes, in my philosophical moods, I wonder: Why is this so? By relying on tension and conflict, am I appealing to the lower elements within us all to peddle my stories? Am I preying on that same instinct that causes us to gawk at accidents, peer out the windows at neighbors in trouble, and gossip around the water cooler over coworkers cheating on their spouses?
Maybe...But I think there's more to it than that.
We relish the drama and tension and opposition in a good story, but we also cheer for the hero who overcomes it, or at the least, sympathize with the protagonist as they sink under it.
I don't think I'm glorifying suffering and opposition – I'm helping provide readers with an escape from the struggles in their own lives, at least for a short while. Or at least I'm connecting with them on a fundamental level and giving them validation that we ALL endure opposition in some ways.
It's not only what makes a good story. It's what makes us human.
So what do you think?
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