Monday, September 16, 2013

Good Conflict

I’ve never been a big sports fan.  When I was younger, I walked in on my family and some friends watching a hockey game, and I spent half of the time wondering why the Colorado team had an A on their shirts instead of an R for Rockies.  I still can’t remember the difference between the World Cup and the World Series, and my husband watches soccer nonstop.  Ask me which sport has periods, versus halftimes, versus quarters, and I couldn’t tell you.

My mom loves college football.  She made my dad take her to watch the Rose Bowl for their 21st wedding anniversary.  Growing up, we always watched her university’s football and volleyball games, and when they were important games against well-known rivals, she would invite all of our friends over. 
Of course, since I don’t know much about sports, and I never really felt any special affiliation with my mom’s teams, I had the tendency to cheer for the other team.  Just because no one else was.  It made the games more tolerable for me.  I enjoyed riling up the others whenever the ‘other’ team scored.  (Made a touchdown?  I’m still not sure).

Now that I’m married, I watch a lot more of the other football – soccer.  My Bolivian husband watches little else.  When I was living in Madrid, I accidently bought my brother a Barcelona jersey, and my in-laws couldn’t believe that I could do anything so terrible.  One of his uncles gave us a Real Madrid pillow when we got married, to remind us to remain loyal to the best team.  For the first few years, I cheered for Madrid, but I soon got bored.  What was the use?  We were both cheering for the same team, and we were both happy when they won and sad when they lost.

What fun is it to watch a game where everyone’s on the same team?  Aren’t the best games when the two rivals are equally strong and where any outcome can occur?  

That’s when I started to cheer for the Barcelona team.  I even got a Messi jersey for whenever my husband wore his Ronaldo one.  But whenever I watched games with friends who were Barcelona fans, I’d switch to cheer for Madrid.

Viva Barcelona!


I like the conflict.  I enjoy the ‘trash talk,’ when one player makes a good play and the others get mad.  And I enjoy receiving it when my team deserves it.  A 90 minute soccer game can fly by when there’s the interaction and conflict between those watching.

Conflict is the spice of life.  We always need something to block us to make us push forward.  And that’s what our characters need as well.  Every chapter, every scene should have conflict to push the characters forward toward their goals and whatever ending they’re racing toward.  

Picture taken by me

Maybe it’s not a physical conflict.  It could be an emotional one.  

I have a character who seems like the ‘bad’ guy because he’s having a hard time keeping up with the young kids and isn’t dealing with it well.  It’s not very obvious, but it’s there, in every scene and in every interaction he has with the kids.  So even a normal conversation sounds like a confrontation.  

Like we learn in school, there’s many, many different types of conflicts, but each one can almost be broken down into three or four different types.  Man v Man.  Man v Environment.  Man v Self.  Can you think of any others?

Put yourself and your characters in conflict and watch them blossom.  Without conflict, we could very quickly get bored.