Central Conflict is the soul of your book. I want to delve into what I call RRCC or Remind Reader of Central Conflict.
A Vital Part of Virtually all Novels.
In coaching new or experienced authors, I emphasize the idea of capturing the reader’s attention at the very beginning of the book; the first sentence, if possible. That is because conflict forms the heart and soul of a plot. The story could be summarized: conflict revealed, conflict experienced, and conflict resolved.
The Reader Must Be Constantly Reminded of Conflict.
If all you did was open the book with a mind-boggling conflict, it is not enough. We humans forget. You captured their attention in the opening sentence or sentences, but you lost them because they forgot the conflict or plot.
In my previous blog, I talked about the formula and that the formula works for chapters as well. In general, a typical novel will reveal the conflict in the opening chapter or chapters, then develop the conflict in the middle chapters, and finally resolve the conflict in the ending chapters.
This formula works, but it depends on you reminding the reader that there is a conflict. There are multiple ways of doing that, so I won’t attempt to provide an example. That said, it is not a bad idea to revisit the origination of the conflict. It is even better to add fuel to the conflict in the form of action, words, or thoughts.
Conflict needs to grow.
By this I mean that the intensity of the conflict needs to grow. It is after all the central plot or theme of your story. If you allow the intensity to drop, then the reader can get bored, and they never finish the story.
That is why you don’t want to provide too much intensity at the very beginning. In a previous blog, I mentioned Joseph when he was cast into a dry well. That was a dramatic and fearful thing for him, but there was worse to come. The conflict between him and his brothers spanned a great deal of time and wasn’t resolved until after he became second only to Pharaoh. Yet the brothers had not seen Joseph for approximately 30 years!
Conflict Should Always be Resolved.
Notice I said ‘should’ rather than must. The ’should” comes into play if you plan on a sequel. Then the conflict can still be unresolved at the end of the first book, and resolved in the next book. But if you do that, there must be that second book. But in most cases, the conflict needs to be resolved. Not only the primary conflict, but any additional conflicts.
Readers can be finicky. They want all your conflicts resolved by the end of the book, or to at least know why it isn’t resolved. Sometimes, unresolved conflict is a good lead into the next book.
An example of this occurred in Perished: The World That Was. The book started with the conflict of sin in the Garden of Eden which caused Adam and Eve to be kicked out of the Garden. But sin had continued throughout the book bringing God’s judgment of the Flood. Here is how I ended the book which occurred on the 41st day of the Flood. Noah’s wife Naamah is talking.
“Will man ever again face judgment?”
“I hope not! But God has not promised me that and man’s record is not too encouraging.”
“But,” Naamah, continued, her face full of confusion, “if man has your records, surely he would not tempt God again?”
“I do not know the future, Naamah. But I know men. They may have all the knowledge this Ark contains and still they would be prone to sin. I only know this: God is merciful and slow to anger. He will preserve His Word and provide a Redeemer. That is our hope, Naamah and the hope of mankind!”
That is how the book ended; leaving the sin conflict unresolved, and hopefully leaving the reader wanting to see what happened next. Of course, most English-speaking people know the history of mankind, but the series World That Was narrated the stories behind the stories.
The point here is that the sin conflict was unresolved, and the reader would have to read the next book World of Noah and the Ark for more. In fact, there were five more books to go in the series. Though the sin conflict was never resolved, the series pointed to a coming Redeemer who would resolve the conflict.
Your book doesn’t have to be so elaborate, but the principle is the same.
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