This was linked to via pingback on this other reblog I made and it was, I thought, a good if rambly and typo riddled take on the subject; in her defense, the author does indicate she was writing the the small hours of the morning – ah, the logics of 2AM.
My own work “lacks conflict” and according to one or two reviews “lacks plot” because 1) these two things, by many’s definition, are one and the same and 2) because some people really have a poor understanding of what those words mean
1) Plot is A happens, then B happens, then C happens. That’s all plot is. It’s “wha-happ’n’d”. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s very difficult to tell any story of any sort, even a vignette, without having, by strict definition, a plot. Conflict is … well, it’s conflict. It’s the characters’ internal struggles, it’s their struggles against their environment, it’s their struggles against others.
2) The very fact that time passes within Now & Forever is an indicator that there’s a plot. A single thread of plot? Yes, actually, though it’s only liable to be clearly visible once all four books are written — though I’ll say it now: the plot is the girls’ growing love and them growing up, and how that impacts their love and relationship; put more succinctly the plot is two high school sweethearts getting through high school together.
Conflict abounds, though it is in no way the driving force of the story. There’s minor conflict between Lauren and Sally – as any couple will, they have their disagreements, and we see them. Maybe it’s not generally a flaming row, but not all couples have those. There’s “[wo]man versus [her] environment”. I’m sorry, but even in Washington, the US is not and in 2010 – 2014 was not a terribly wonderful place to be homosexual, this is not a major factor of the story, but it is a primary source of what conflict exists. It also has “[wo]man versus [her]self” given that the girls are growing up and have their doubts and insecurities that come with such things and that come with being in love.
Honestly, though, I’m merely echoing … more or less, anyway … what this other post says with my own stories inserted in place of hers.
First, I apologize in advance for, even for me, an unusual amount of rambly-ness in this post. And typos. And homonym errors. If I had any sense, I’d probably wait until tomorrow . . . err, later today, I guess . . . to write this. If I had any sense, however, I’d have gone into a much more lucrative career than writing space opera, so . . .
Second, this isn’t complaining about my reviews. My reviewers are entitled to their opinions. They just gave me something concrete to point at while I make a point about something that’s been bothering me for quite a long time.
Now, on to my actual post:
Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing.
Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing.
I just discovered this quote a few days ago, but it’s something I’ve thought of before. Years ago, in fact, I argued this very point on a rpg forum when I was told, pretty much, by some people that my games couldn’t possibly be fun because conflict wasn’t the driving force. And it wasn’t even a “rpgs are about killin’ things and gettin’ mad loot” or whatever thing. Apparently if there’s a love story in your game or story, the drama and change that comes just from being in a relationship isn’t enough, you have to bring in soap opera elements like love triangles and kidnappings and such, for example. Change wasn’t enough; there had to be conflict, according to these people. (continued)
- The Triad of Storytelling: A Listener’s Point of View (aliannedonnelly.com)
- [The Mad Adventurers Society] More Than Set Dressing: My Plot Device is Multitalented (madadventurers.com)
- The anatomy of RPG adventures (geeknative.com)
- Works In Progress, July Edition (sblog.universal-nexus.com)
- To Err Is Human – To Apologize Is Humane (psychologytoday.com)