Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Burgeoning Conflict

Of all the things I hate, Jerusalem crickets and conflict are at the top of the list (Brussels sprouts and cooked cauliflower are close behind).

My solution to the bug thing and my conflict issues is simple: Avoidance. I last saw a Jerusalem cricket in 1989 on the campus of UC Santa Cruz (well, except for the google link above <shudder>). Conflict comes up more frequently, though. I'm not talking about arguments, those I can handle fine. It's the actual interpersonal (and inner-personal) strife I have problems with. Cold shoulder meet Mr. I. Give-In.

Consequently, I have a hard time developing conflict in my stories. Revival is filled with scenes, occasionally whole chapters, that are little more than information-divulging vignettes. I think they're interesting (I'm biased, I suppose). They're anecdotal. They're conversational. But, zombie chapters aside, they're not very conflictive.

I think I do a fair job building the conflict between the main character and the revival preacher. Unfortunately, that's resolved midway through the book. Of course, everything takes a hiatus when the dead walk the streets, but there's not much of a tie between the first two-thirds of the book and the denoument.

There is, however, a vestigal conflict between the main character and his unseen boss that can be developed. Right now it's about his boss's tight-fistedness and it dies pretty early on. But I think it can grow. I mean, how excited can a guy be about researching the "ninth-most-livable city in Oregon"? Who's to blame? Well, the lout who gave him the assignment, of course. A more complex conflict will also tie in nicely with what's now kind of throw-away line at the end of the book.

They say that awareness of a problem is the first step to recovery. I can't say I ever see myself relishing real-life conflict, but knowing my weakness has helped me spot it in my story. Will it work? I think it has potential. There are a few other things in secondary plotlines that can be enhanced, too.

We'll see.


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