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Matt Dovey wrote:
Re: Conflict & Tension
Postby MattDovey » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:14 pm
Was it this post you were thinking of?
I think conflict between the scene and the reader is absolutely possible. Conflict between what a reader expects, behaviour wise, and what your character is doing, provokes a particular kind of intrigue. Why is this sympathetically-presented character engaging in such an abhorrent activity? I wouldn't is one possibility, how is this person remaining so calm amid all this bloodshed? is another, why is this person so unbothered by the strange happenings around them yet another. It's setting up story questions through disonnance, I suppose, by going against reader expectations.
In fact, looking at it, I think it's just one of the kinds of conflict I called out in the blog post: the tension of a statement that doesn't quite make sense.
Of course, the challenge then is in going against expectations cleverly (e.g. "why is this person chopping people up sadistically" is perhaps more trodden ground than, say, "why is this person going out into sub-zero temperatures in only their pants as if it ain't no thing", or "why is this person digging up a grave while specifically whistling Billy Joel's 1983 classic, 'Uptown Girl'"), and also in balancing not-beating-people-round-the-head-with-it (with the risk of boring people with unsubtlety) against not-relying-on-too-much-shared-knowledge-and-subtle-implication (with the risk that some readers might miss the conflict and thus not be hooked).
The best answer, I think, is why not both? Have that reader-scene conflict, but then have character conflicts too--like an instrument slipping in blood slick hands, or someone making a surprise run for it even if their arm is dangling off. If you're feeling brave you can try and get by on the reader-scene conflict alone at first, but you need to introduce plot or character conflict soon--be it external events or introspection.