marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

bickering a.k.a. conflict

An Orson Scott Card essay on conflict, particularly the forms he refers to as "complication" and "entertainment."

I do not think my meditations will be meaningful without you having read it first -- go ahead, I'll wait.  0:)

One thing he doesn't mention about these conflicts is that they can also be a means of characterization.  When the writer gives every character a distinct trait to full-blown personality (whether from a Greek god or by other means 0:), the characters will differ from each other.  (If not, if you have identical characters -- well, that's when I haul out the Greek gods technique.)  But putting them bickering with each other is one of the best ways to show the contrast.  If one guard is, like Hades, rather introverted and reclusive, and one is, like Hermes, full of talk to the point of slickness, keeping watch will be lively even before the hero shows up.

Conversely, having two character in a place, you can put them to bickering and thereby discover what characters they have.  Like assigning a trait, this can bring them quickly in the full life and showing up elsewhere.  However, one thing to watch is that how they acted at this particular point can dominate their character; you have to consider whether that situation, even though they were born there, was really atypical for them.

Plus, of course, you can use them for exposition.  If one character is jeering at another for fussing over surveillance equipment, you can slither in quite a bit (plus bridging conflict before the equipment picks up something).  If mercenaries argue about which lord to sign up with, they have every reason to thrash out what the lords are like.  Nothing like giving characters a motive  to talk about stuff they already know.
Tags: conflict, exposition, faction, foils, orchestrating characters, web articles
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