Analysis

Six Stories With Contrived Conflict

No matter how much research you do, you'll never find the answer!

Conflict is the engine that moves the plot and lights up characters. But what happens when a storyteller forces conflict into places where it doesn’t make sense? That’s when you get contrived conflict, and it’s usually followed by audiences asking things like “Why are they fighting?” and “Why don’t they just talk to each other?” When a story’s conflict is contrived, it’s like having a faulty engine: the story just can’t operate at full power.

Unfortunately, contrived conflict is one of the most common problems in big-name stories. Engineering conflict that fits a story’s premise can be difficult for experienced professionals as well as beginners. On the bright side, that gives us plenty of examples to learn from. So let’s look at six stories that suffer from contrived conflict and how they could be fixed.

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Writing

Using Poetic Devices

Rose and rose petals on a book next to a brush with red paint

If you want your words to sound captivating, borrow tricks from a poet. Most fiction writers are familiar with literary devices like metaphor and personification, but it’s less common for storytellers to focus on auditory effects. Working with sound and rhythm can help you convey … read more »

Analysis

Five Novels With Strong Throughlines

A throughline is the core or central plot thread of your story, the problem introduced in the beginning and resolved in the climax. It’s what ties everything together and keeps the audience engaged. Novels without strong throughlines have a difficult time building tension or creating satisfaction, two … read more »