Friday, June 10, 2005

Stages of INTERNAL CONFLICT



Writing INTERNAL CONFLICT
~ On Paper!
- This is something really advanced, so PAY ATTENTION!

The scene…
~~~~~~~~~~~~
His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy... He fired her blood more than any other man.

She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”

She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”

He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yes I know, it’s a bit over the top, but that's what was submitted for this exercise. 

What we have is a potentially hot scene brewing with a nice little Internal Conflict, but it reads a little muddied.

What’s wrong?

This scene’s Internal Conflict is Out of Chronological Sequence!

The Chronological Order of
INTERNAL CONFLICT!!!

ACTION Sequences = Chronological Order
Chronological Order is the ONLY way to write an Action Scene. If you visualize the characters doing something in a specific order – you write it in THAT order!

REALITY = something random happens to you
- and then you react.

FICTION = the Plot happens to the characters
- and then they react.

If you want the reader to SEE the actions that you are trying to portray as a movie in their minds, Chronological Order is the ONLY way to do it - and that INCLUDES Internal Narration!

"There's a Chronological Order
-- for Internal Narration?"

You bet your hot pink knickers, Internal Narration has a chronological order! ESPECIALLY when Internal Conflict is involved.


INTERNAL CONFLICT
- has a VERY specific order of events.
1) SHOW the Conflict.
2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict.
3) Tell WHY it’s in Conflict.
4) Resolve the Conflict.

1) Show them that there is a Conflict.
Show them, through the ACTIONS & Dialogue of your characters that a conflict is happening. This is pure showing – all action.

2) Tell them WHAT is in Conflict.
This is a statement TELLING the reader through internal narration or dialogue exactly what is battling with what within the character. Want verses want. Is it their heart verses their body? Their good sense verses their desire? Their career verses their heart’s desire? Love for one verses lust for the other?

3) Tell them WHY it’s in conflict – what is at stake?
This is another statement internally or through dialogue telling the reader exactly what is at stake. Pile on the reasons, both pro and con. “I can’t do this because… But I want to because…”

To make the most tension, state the Con first and then the Pro. (Don't ask me why it works better this way, I don't know! It just does.)

4) Resolve the Conflict
Make an Internal decision, and then have the character ACT on that decision.

Scene OVERHAUL!!!

When in doubt of ANY scene – pull it apart, sentence by sentence:

HIS initiating Actions:
  • His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress.
  • His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown.
  • His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.
HER Reactions:
  • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
  • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
  • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
  • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
  • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
  • He fired her blood more than any other man.
  • She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”
His following Actions:
  • His gaze narrowed, then he smiled.
  • “Why? Why deny your desire?”
Her following Reactions:
  • She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her.
  • “Forgive me, but I want to live.”
His Initiating Action:
  • He moved closer, to stand but a breath away.
  • “Are you quite sure?”
Actual order of events:
1) He kissed her.
2) She reacted, and wanted more.
3) She had reasons to resist. (Internal CONFLICT!)
4) She resisted.
5) He sought to reestablish contact.
6) She resisted.
7) Closing

The sentences that belong to each event:

1) He kissed her.
  • His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress.
  • His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown.
  • His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.
In Proper Sequence:
His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

2) She reacted, and wanted more.

  • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
  • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
  • He fired her blood more than any other man.
In Proper Sequence:
Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

3) She had reasons to resist = CONFLICT!
  • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
  • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
  • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
1) SHOW the Conflict.
2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict.
3) Tell WHY it’s in Conflict.
4) Resolve the Conflict.

1) SHOW the Conflict.
  • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict?
  • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
3) Tell WHY it’s in conflict. What is at stake?
  • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
4) Resolve the conflict.
(Oh, no! There’s nothing to put here! So, add something, right here, to state her decision.)
  • Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.
In Proper Sequence:
She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.

Hmm… This still isn’t quite right. What’s the problem?

This sentence:
  • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
This has an ACTION mixed with a thought – and the Action is AFTER the thought. Not good. Let’s divide them.
  • She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
This is an ACTION that SHOWS that there is a conflict, so it definitely belongs in this paragraph.
  • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body.
This is a Want. It needs to go in the previous paragraph, with the rest of the WANTS. So, let's go back to the previous paragraph, and put that WANT there.

2) She reacted, and wanted more.
  • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
  • He fired her blood more than any other man.
  • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body.
  • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
In proper Sequence - with new sentence added:
Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

What's left?
  • She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
This is an ACTION that SHOWS that there is a conflict. Actions go first.

In Proper Sequence:
She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.

Yes, that's much better.

4) She resisted.
  • She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”
This actually belongs at the very end of the previous paragraph, as it SHOWS her decision, that she has resolved her conflict.

In Proper Sequence:
She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay. She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

5) He sought to reestablish contact.
  • His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”
6) She resisted.
  • She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”
7) Closing.
  • He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”

Dialogue RANT!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ACTION goes Before COMMENTS! Both Internal and External Dialogue happens AFTER Physical Reactions. The body reacts faster than thoughts or comments. Ask any martial artist.

ATTACH the damned DIALOGUE! Don't seperate a character's dialogue from that same character's actions by giving it a new paragraph. The reader automatically assumes that unattached -- abandoned -- dialogue belongs with the NEXT paragraph!

I'm sorry, but honest to god, I didn't make it up! You're supposed to separate the characters from each other & connect a character's dialogue to their actions.

According to Strunk & White's Elements of Style:
-- "In dialogue, each speech, even if only a single word, is a paragraph by itself; that is, a new paragraph begins with each change of speaker."

The key phrase here is "Change of Speaker". If the Speaker is ACTING his actions belong in the same paragraph with his dialogue because THE SPEAKER HAS NOT CHANGED.

Dialogue normally belongs at the END of the paragraph. If you have several things to say, split the dialogue bits with that character's Actions -- NOT Dialogue Tags.

You CAN Begin a paragraph with dialogue! But ONLY when that Dialogue is a knee-jerk Reaction to an ACTION in the previous Paragraph.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ADJUSTED into Proper Sequence:
With additional minor adjustments, for continuity.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at her waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through the corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

She set her palm over his, just below her breast, and stopped him. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay. She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”

She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”

He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That’s MUCH better, though still very Purple.

Where did I pick up on how to do this?
From COPYWRITING!

The official Copywriter’s technique for writing any article:
  • Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  • Tell them.
  • Tell them why you told them.
Transposed into Writing Conflict:
  • Tell them what you are going to tell them. (There’s a conflict)
  • Tell them. (The conflict.)
  • Tell them why you told them. (Why there’s a conflict.)
I swear, taking that cheap course in copywriting was the absolute best investment toward my Fiction writing career – ever!

Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

17 comments:

  1. well, I don't really write smut, but I certainly love it.

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  2. Well Jay,
    - If you ever decide to write smut, in addition to reading it, you know where to come! (Pun intended.)

    Morgan

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  3. I'm struggling to write my first novel--- WOW! bookmarking your site; I'm blown away.

    Love your gorgeous profile pic!

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  4. Would be SOOOooo encouraged by any comment on my story, THE NEPHILIM AGE.

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  5. Hey Falconmyst,
    - Thank you! I did this blog because there's a LOT to Fiction writing that they just don't teach you in in college. Why not?

    Because the instructors are rarely multi-published mainstream FICTION authors, and those that ARE published, are more often than not, authors of LITERARY fiction. Literary fiction just isn't the same thing -- at all.

    Key piece of advice:
    - BEFORE you take advice from ANYONE on writing, check out how many books they have PUBLISHED, and look closely at what genres they are published in.

    If your instructor has less than TEN books to their name, then they are still BEGINNERS. Take anything they have to say with a grain of salt, and DO Not take their criticisms seriously.

    (I have 18 -- or is it 19? -- titles out currently, and I'm living on my book royalties, so I'm actually a safe bet.)

    Once you find someone -- READ THEIR BOOKS! If you don't like what they write, are you sure you want to learn how to do it their way?

    One last note --
    -- If you want someone to look at your work, find an editor.

    FLOGGING THE QUILL ~ Ray Rhamey ~ Editor's Blog
    http://www.floggingthequill.com/flogging_the_quill/

    I am not an editor. I write books for a living. I just don't have the time to edit anybody's stuff but mine.

    Morgan Hawke

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  6. GHOD MORGAN! That's a FANTASTIC POST and I just copied it into my computer for a checklist for myself.

    But it's a good essay to follow.

    I think some author we know who is on the NYT needs it in her files too. Laughing.

    The order of things. You got it down right.

    Take a pic of your feet in your new shoes and post it. Tell Michelle to do her feet and let's all exchange feet and shoe pics.

    Luv,
    Janie

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  7. GREAT! Even that was a gem worth discovering; Blessings for the encouraged advice.

    Namesta!

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  8. This is a great article! I was just whining the other day about writing introspection. This should help.

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  9. cool article -- one of the most high-tech I've ever seen, in the sense of attention to details

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  10. I'm always inspired after reading your articles. You are so intuitive with the writing process. A breath of fresh air! Thank you for sharing!

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  11. Hey Olivia & D!
    - Thank you! I am DETERMINED to take the mystery out of the technical aspects of fiction writing.

    Morgan

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  12. I've placed a link to you from my site; there are so many gems to be gathered here that I thought it worthwihle to share with others.

    Thank you for your posting and insights to beginners like myself...

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  13. I've learned so much from your essays, but the "pull it apart sentence by sentence if it's not working" advice was particularly helpful, and I've found a feature in MS word that makes it even easier. If break the troublesome paragraphs down sentence by sentence, then switch to "outline view" (alt+v then o for shortcut), the drag and drop function there is invaluable for quick rearranging. Rather than having select and copy and find the insert point and pasting, it's an absolute breeze to shuffle the sentences into "correct" order. :)

    Thanks again for all the great advice you've given here.

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  14. Hey this and the previous post I read on your blog are perfect for what I need right now...

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  15. Good post hon.The reason showing the CON first is because our minds expect to go that route. Adults aren't like kids. We don't take everything at face value so when you give someone the answer they want, they often challenge it.

    Give them the CON first and it "sounds" like typical behavior until you switch it up.

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  16. It seems as though the solution you showed is identical to that of the character reacting to their own feedback. If you view it in terms of the standard model of the active paragraph then the girl reacts internally to his actions, and then reacts to her own reaction in a second paragraph. Some of the stages were truncated or skipped, but the emphasis on proper order stayed the same.

    (I think I saw you relay it as Stimuli -> Reaction -> Perception -> Emotion -> Response elsewhere on your blog which is a great way of putting it, it makes it much simpler to understand that other ways I've seen it explained)

    The result you showed in this example displays the use of feedback reaction as a demonstration of internal conflict very well. I wish you had taught me writing. Maybe it wouldn't have taken me years to realize the simple principal that the best way to highlight internal conflict is to react to your own reaction. Intuitive, yes, but education can really mess with your intuition.

    Thank you so much for the articles you have here on your blog. They give a refreshing and elegantly simple take on things that usually wrap around the mind as comfortably as a lead pipe.

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  17. Hey, AK Raa,
    -- I'm thrilled you liked my little essay.

    Um... Would you believe I've never even heard of the term "Active Paragraph?" I'm one of those that had to learn all this the hard way--though trial and error. (Emphasis on error.) You see, I never went to college. I wanted to, but...?

    Though, from what I've been hearing from other literature students--including yourself, I'm probably better off having Not gone. Knowing all those long complicated terms would probably just clog up my brain. I'll just leave that stuff to the literary professionals. *grin*

    This made me laugh out loud:
    ...They give a refreshing and elegantly simple take on things that usually wrap around the mind as comfortably as a lead pipe.

    You have a wonderful wit!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!
    -- Morgan Hawke

    ReplyDelete