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Them's Fightin' Words: CONFLICT

Banes at 12:00AM, July 9, 2015

Image by Banes

If you're anything like me (you poor soul), you may have learned about conflict in English or Creative Writing classes, and they told you that stories could either be

Man vs. Himself,
Man vs. Man, or
Man vs. Nature.

So a character would be either wrestling with her inner demons, temptation, or a difficult choice,
or facing off against another character with an opposing agenda, or battling to survive a tornado, volcano, or the ostrich zombie hordes.

When we last talked about genres on the Quackcast, we agreed that the best stories would often combine elements of several genres.

Conflict is the same, maybe even more importantly. The most interesting stories, or even scenes, will have two or even all three types of conflict: the Inner (himself), the Interpersonal (other people) and the Global (nature).

Say a character is trying to get past an apartment security guard (Man vs Man or Interpersonal). The conflict could be heightened if the character was also battling his own cowardice…or maybe has a broken leg (vs himself). Maybe it's also pouring rain in the lobby (nature)!

Hmm. Maybe not. But you see what I'm gettin' at.

Multiple levels of conflict can even apply to gag comics and comic strips: Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes doesn't just face the challenges of steep hills and the evils of the bathtub (and the monsters he battles as Spaceman Spiff). He also squares off against his parents and other kids…and also faces the inner conflict of his own personality vs. the demands of his daily life.

He also fights with Hobbes sometimes…though I'm not sure whether that's Inner, Interpersonal or Nature-type conflict…

How do you approach conflict in your comics? Do you think about it? Do your characters face various levels of conflict at different times?

Have a good Thursday!




Banes at 5:02PM, July 9, 2015

@Ironscarf - ha! The inner conflict of the reader! I love it! @KimLuster - heehee! I didn't even notice the typo. I think your meaning came through fine!

KimLuster at 3:55PM, July 9, 2015

I meant I can't fathom a story without conflict!! Gah my last post makes no sense at all cuz of one word...!!!! And you didn't make me throw up - my friend who hated conflict (at least in movies - she seemed to love in RL :D) made me!

Ironscarf at 2:32PM, July 9, 2015

I find it much too stifling to try and weigh up all these factors when writing, so I just think about real people I know or have known and apply that to whatever situation I'm writing. People are pretty complicated! F'rinstance, even the most rotten of rotters will believe their position is right, even noble. If you can show a little of how they got that way, the reader might feel some sympathy for that rotter - conflict! I'm not sure what type though - maybe inner turmoil on the part of the reader?

Gunwallace at 12:32PM, July 9, 2015

Woman vs. Donut?

Banes at 12:29PM, July 9, 2015

@KimLuster - For's pretty much essential and I think most of us would start squirming and getting edgy if there was no conflict going on. Sorry to make you throw up, though! :D

KimLuster at 8:20AM, July 9, 2015

I can fathom a story without conflict! Or at least one being any good! When I'm watching a movie, and it's been too feel-goody for too long, I get edgy! Where's the crisis, the shakeup, the conflict...! I knew someone once who I think was actually an alien. Here's a description of her 'perfect movie': A boy and girl meet. They spend time together, going on dates and doing things for each other, all in ever-escalating wonderful doses, and then, in the end, they get married or something... I throw up just imagining it!

Banes at 7:15AM, July 9, 2015

@maskdt - I've approached it the same way. Most of my stuff that works the best is that character-based conflict that comes from a variety of flawed personalities in the cast. Then the individual stories have their own conflicts of course...

maskdt at 6:07AM, July 9, 2015

I wrote my characters' back stories and bios, and now I'm letting the conflict unfold naturally. It's not too apparent just yet since the story is just getting started, but I hope the hints I've dropped already have been obvious enough.

Ozoneocean at 2:53AM, July 9, 2015

Brilliantly surmised!

bravo1102 at 2:27AM, July 9, 2015

heh, heh, I just set up the conflict, sit back and let the sparks fly.

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