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Successful Conflict: Editor's Notes #139
February 21, 2013

In the final analysis, real suspense comes with moral dilemma
and the courage to make and act upon choices.
False suspense comes from the accidental and meaningless occurrence
of oneā€¦thing after another.

--John Gardner

In this issue:

1. Successful conflict
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

1. Successful conflict
Most books work best with some degree of conflict. Even books for very young children can have a problem to solve. Here is a brief look at what makes for successful conflict.

In fiction, conflict is usually between characters, even if there is a primary conflict with forces of nature. Where the conflict is primarily between characters, there is generally a main character who is basically good but who may have a flaw that gets in his way. A secondary character in opposition to the hero appears to the reader to be basically bad.

Satisfying conflict happens when the characters move towards each other, sometimes even exchanging characteristics. The hero learns and grows through dealing with his weakness and flaws. The foe softens and learns a lesson, too.

In nonfiction, the conflict is often a clash of ideas. The writer begins with a thesis. The antithesis is an opposing view. As the writer works through the arguments for each point of view, often a synthesis evolves.

Readers find it easier to stick with a writer who deals fairly with the opposition, who acknowledges problems in the thesis or strengths in the antithesis.

You may not begin your writing with a clear conflict in mind. You can, however, strengthen your piece by going back over it at least once using the lens of conflict, adding genuine opposition where possible.


2.Tickled my funnybone
Headline: Neurotic conflict resolution by eating disordered women.


3. Interesting Web site
An oxymoron introduces a special type of conflict. Here is a great list of oxymorons.

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