Tag Archives: Conflict

17.32: Everything is About Conflict

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

Everything is about conflict? Really? Well, yes. Maybe not in the action-movie sense, but conflict is everywhere, even among people whose goals, objectives, and methodologies are in alignment. This, of course, means that it exists among your cast of characters, and it will inform the way the talk to one another.

Liner Notes: We mentioned this famous Monty Python sketch about wanting to have an argument.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Write a scene in which two characters try to decide whether or not to commit a crime. One has done crimes before. One has not. Halfway through, reverse their positions on the matter.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (currently requires a subscription to Paramount+.)

17.25: Archetypes, Ensembles, and Expectations

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida CordovaKaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler

We’ve talked about making every member of the ensemble meaningful. In this episode we’re discussing who, in archetype terms, everybody is. How can archetypes help us get started, how can they help us set reader expectations, and what are the archetype-related pitfalls we need to avoid? And finally, is ‘archetype’ even the correct term here?

Liner Notes: Here’s the “Black Superheroes with Electrical Powers” article.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Identify the archetypes of each character in your work-in-progress. Change that archetype or give them a sub-archetype, to try to branch out and create rounder, unexpected characters.

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

16.41: Middles and Conflicts with M.I.C.E. Structure

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. PolkCharlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal

With the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) explained, and the concept of nesting, or braiding the M.I.C.E. threads, we’re ready to dive into that most difficult part of the story: the middle.

Enough of us dread (or at least struggle with) middle-of-story writing that the promise of a structural tool to make it easier is kind of glorious. Our seventh  installment in M.I.C.E. Quotient discussions talks about how to use M.I.C.E. elements to inform try-fail cycles, ask/answer sequences, and conflicts in general.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Examine the conflicts in the middle of your fairy-tale project (the same one you’ve used for the last six episodes of homework.) Ask yourself if those are the conflicts you want to engage with. If they are, add a try-fail cycle that fits the MICE elements you’ve employed so far.

Rainbringer, by Adam Berg

15.25: Using the MICE Quotient for Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

The MICE quotient is a tool for categorizing story elements—Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event—and we’ve talked about it quite a bit in the past. When a listener asked how we might use the MICE quotient to create, inform, manage, and otherwise help us “do” conflict in our stories, we were excited to start recording, and a bit bewildered that we’d somehow not already done this episode.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Free write a character doing something. Identify the MICE elements. Pick one, and build additional conflict around it.

Escaping Exodus, by Nicky Drayden

14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master by Alex Jackson

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Make an entire planet of you. Now create a trading post where people who are NOT you must find ways to interact with the world of yous.

13.14: Character Nuance

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

Let’s talk about characters who have conflict built right into them; characters whose attributes and attitudes might seem to contradict one another; characters who like, y’know… actual people.

(And let’s talk about how to write them.)

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Play with The Sorting Hat Chats, and sort yourself. There’s no quiz. You’ll have to do some reading in order to figure out how you fit in.

Buffalo Soldier, by Maurice Broaddus

13.6: External Conflicts for Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than PvP, if you will.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom understand that environmental noise is a key external conflict driving their narratives.

 

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“Break Things” – start the character’s story, and then have things begin going wrong. Don’t fix any of it. Just keep making things worse. 

“El is a Spaceship Melody,” by Maurice Broaddus 

Writing Excuses 10.29: Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly?

We’re past the middle of the Season 10 Master Class, but we’re still in the middle of our month on middles. Perhaps some spectacular failures will help us all enjoy the middle a bit more as we write our way past it.

(Filed under: “I see what you did there.”)

(Filed also under: “spectacular failure.”)

Character failure is a big part of making the middle of a story work. We talk about why, and we provide some tips about how to make this work well for you.

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“Yes, but/no, and…” Think of the smartest thing your character can do. Now have them fail with either “yes, but” (they technically succeed, but something else has gone wrong) or “no, and” (they fail, and the failure deepens the mess.)

The Edge of the World: Terra Incognita, Book 1, by Kevin J. Anderson, narrated by Scott Brick