1. Foreshadowing (good)
2. Static (bad)
3. Jumping (bad)
4. Slowly rising (good)
Foreshadowed conflict should occur near the beginning of the story and should point to the forthcoming crisis. In Romeo and Juliet, the warring families are already such bitter enemies that they ready to kill each other from the get-go.
Static conflict remains even, spiking for only the briefest of moments and occurs only in bad writing. Arguments and quarrels create static conflict, unless the characters grow and change during these arguments. Every line of dialogue, every event must push towards the final goal.
In jumping conflict, the characters hop from one emotional level to another, eliminating the necessary transitional steps. This is also bad writing.
Avoid static and jumping conflict at all costs, by knowing, in advance, what road your characters must travel:
Fidelity to infidelity
Drunkenness to sobriety
Brazenness to timidity
Simplicity to pretentiousness
The above represent two extremes—start and destination.
You must have transitions between states. Supposing a character goes from love to hate. Let’s imagine there are seven steps between the two states:
If a character goes from 1 to 5 at once, this constitutes jumping conflict, neglecting the necessary transition. In fiction, every step must be clearly shown. When your character goes through steps 1 to 9, you have slowly building conflict. Each level is more intense than the previous one, with each scene gathering momentum until the final climax.
Foreshadowed, slow-rising conflict, which transitions from level to level, is the best way to orchestrate opposition amongst your story’s characters.
If you enjoyed this post, kindly share it with others. If you have a suggestion for a future one, please leave a comment and let’s get chatting. You may subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “subscribe” or “profile” link on the right-hand side of this article. I post new material every Monday.
Image: Philippe Put