What do Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, The Great Gatsby, War and Peace, Catch 22 and Jurassic Park have in common? Constant Contained Conflict. All great stories have CCC. Certainly there are other elements involved in the creation of impressive writings, but one of those elements is CCC both from the outside and within a character.
Conflict both internally and externally drive stories forward, especially with a protagonist who is pursuing a goal (or in some cases being pursued).
The contained portion of the conflict usually has something to do with emotional ties, although physical containment can also add to the intensity of the conflict. Your story must contain constant contained conflict if it is to maintain the reader’s (and your) interest over the time it takes to read (or write) the book. It is not only whether the conflict will be resolved, but how. There will be large conflicts – between the protagonist and the bully, culminating with a show down with the antagonist. There will be small conflicts – which way to go, fighting over a plan, a girl, a weapon, a trail.
There will also be conflicts within the characters (should I do it? Should I tell her? Can I conquer my fear of ….).
Without conflict a story lies flat. Even a biography or historical novel has conflict or it becomes a boring litany of details.
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