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Contributed by
Emiliene Alemkeng

  In a story, conflict is the challenges your characters faces as plot develops. The protagonist basically faces these tribulations which can be against an antagonist, society, nature or herself. William Shakespeare, John Nkemngong Nkengasong, Kazou Ishiguro, J K Rowling and other great writers have used conflict effectively, to make their works spellbinding and suspenseful. In fact, today we still read Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Hamlet because of the playwright’s intricate ability to craft plausible conflicts that are both societal and psychological making his works relatable and enjoyable. In the Poetics, Aristotle encouraged plot centered conflict while Hegel insists that character centric conflict is more intense. Whether you are writing prose or drama, building conflict is essential to the success of the narrative.

Conflict is a basic tool of realism.

Authors who make use of real life situations must heighten conflict in their narratives for the purpose of intrigue. Every writer creates ideas where a reader can identify herself, so ignoring conflict will mean wiping out realism completely. Life itself is not plain and boring but is filled with battles, struggles and challenges. When we think of it, we realize that life would have been unexciting if we had no cause to fight for, if we had no difficulties to overcome and if we had no goals to surmount.

Conflict enhances plot.

You might have a great idea you want to write but if you don’t bring in conflicting ideas in that storyline, it will be an essay of two pages. A clash is that tool that creates more ideas for you to develop. George Orwell’s Animal Farm depicts a situation of conflict that begins from when the commandment “All Animals are equal” is changed to “All Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. This is when the other animals realize that Napoleon has become a totalitarian like Mr. Jones.

Conflict makes a story interesting and entertaining.

According to Horace, the purpose of art is to educate and if possible entertain; yet entertainment is often what readers look for first; because if a reader is not regaled by the book, she will not finish it, therefore not learning any lessons. Conflict is there to keep your reader entertained as you go beyond imagination to surprise them with chained or related events just like George Bernard Shaw does in Fanny’s First Play.

Conflict creates suspense

Conflict does not only portray realism and enhance plot, it also create suspense. Knowing the power of suspense in a story enables every writer to build on it. Conflict plays that role to perfection as readers always stay eager to know how and when your protagonist will overcome the numerous challenges in view. Without conflict there will be no resolution. Duh!!!

As essential as conflict is to the development of a story and the interest of readers, it can become cumbersome for authors who have not practiced the art. Read the great works, explore the moments of conflict in the books you read, look at your own manuscript as an outsider to evaluate whether it possesses conflict. If you do this consistently, it is a guarantee that you will be the next big name in the world of writing.

                                                                                                                                     Edited by

Louisa Lum

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