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Advice on a conflict idea

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Lydia Kongouseki's picture
authenticated user
Joined: Jul 2021
Advice on a conflict idea

I've been struggling for a while to find a suitable external conflict for an idea I have. Basically I have the internal conflict and the theme but the external conflict escapes me. Perhaps I've done this backwards and should have extracted a internal conflict from an external one but this is what I've got.

The story is supposed to be a metaphor for being transgender, the main character discovers this about themselves and wants to embody the image they have in their head of their gender, in the end they realize they don't have to but only after having gone through an extensive transformation.

On paper this sounds easy enough but problems emerge with conflicts I've tried. Placing them in a world that doesn't accept them for who they are unless they conform to these changes doesn't work because this would mean even if they realize they don't need to continue the transformation they actually need to or would have to be rescued from the society enforcing the transformation's necessity.

I had another idea where the main character is trying to escape form someone or something but I couldn't figure out what, either way they found an undiscovered corpse to assume the identity of. After doing so they begin to discover these features of the corpse feel more like features they should also have as they feel more like themselves with them. This however encourages them to take on more features of the person or more exaggerated traits of the person to become their true self.

Two problems emerged from this, either the corpse is just there as a background element and that feels weird, and if they were learning more about this person's life then they'd have to inevitably escape it but also why wouldn't they try to from the get go because it's clear someone wants this person dead. I even considered this was a motive for going to more exaggerated features of the corpse so they could escape as a new identity.

Not to mention I had issues figuring out what they were escaping from. I considered making them an amnesiac android waking up in a mad scientist's lab and then finding the corpse to escape the scientist, then I couldn't figure out where the scientist's character went from there. I thought about making them just amnesiac and finding the corpse and then assuming their identity to find out their own, but couldn't figure out who the other person was or what the external conflict was other than solving the mystery of their identity which I couldn't.

I thought about making them think they were the ones who killed the other person and assumed their identity to get away with it only for the twist ending to reveal it was someone else who framed them. I thought of a funny idea where they assumed the corpse's identity only to find no one knew who the person was until the main character showed up.

I could go on and on about everything I considered but basically the point is nothing has worked yet. I'm still at square one with the questions of how this person begins to discover their identity and what is the external conflict that leads them to discover they need only embrace that identity and not the image of that identity.

I'm open to all sorts of genres and ideas. I just don;t know why I can't figure this out it seems like it should be easy/obvious. Any advice or ideas are appreciated and while I'll thank you in a reply here's a thanks in advance.

Lily Blaze's picture
Rockstar
Joined: Aug 2019

Meh, ignore the self-proclaimed gurus that are rampant online. Sure, there's many that will be all picky and claim things like, you have to have both and internal and internal conflict. It's bs. Conflicts are all th same whether they're internal or external. They're both a part of the character. What the character wants, deep in their heart, and what they're willing to do about it. That's it. At least, that's the essence. You can always add more if you want to.

The character worksheet in the Turn and Burn guide might help you to organize your ideas.

https://www.scriptrevolution.com/guide/characters

One thing that's helped me as a writing exercise is to write stories with only one conflict, from beginning to end. Just one. Go from there.

Lydia Kongouseki's picture
authenticated user
Joined: Jul 2021

This sort of helps actually, I had one idea I didn't write down where they started transforming against their will and were taking steps to solve it. This in itself being ironic since they were also trying to further the transformation. They know the solution to solve their problem but keep getting side-tracked by trying to make the transformation.

It would be phrased as though they were mad at themselves for doing it but couldn't deny they liked the results. Though I avoided this because I thought someone may think that whatever was causing them to transform was also affecting their mind to want it, but I think I've thought of a solution now, the twist reveals their transformation was always meant to happen.

To be honest the writing gurus I've encountered when asking about this before actually just told me "I'm overthinking it" but in a very different way. I came to them with an even more incomplete story and just the idea that "events happen". I had no theme or conflict and they told me I didn't need either. My argument that the story would go nowhere without a conflict was ignored.

Admittedly this was a certain group of people who admittedly inspired to write this story in the first place because of how often they ignored these exact things, writing many stories without a conflict or with a conflict that made you begin to ask if the writer got out that often (ex. main character's conflict is they don't want to do something because they fear the judgement of people who aren't judgemental, they feels it's wrong but don't explain why, or better yet they don't want to do something because they just don't).

Not to mention how they'd never resolve these conflicts when introduced. It's easy to notice if you replace the thing the main character didn't want to do with something like getting the mail. The main character's afraid people will judge them for a nondescript envelope that no one but the main character has access to, if the write had made it so the envelope was instead a blackmail letter threatening to expose them then it would actually go somewhere. The character could also be afraid of what's in the mailbox and not what others would think about what's there, perhaps they have an irrational fear there's a bomb inside it and this creates a conflict. For whatever reason these things never occurred to them.

I'm rambling, but anyway I think this has helped greatly so thank you so much for this. you have no idea what it means to me. At the least I feel sane again hearing someone else agree that conflict is important to storytelling. Thank you!

Lily Blaze's picture
Rockstar
Joined: Aug 2019

Happy to help.

Bear in mind a couple of things though. One, there really is only so much you can fit in one script. Believe me, I've learned this the hard way. Two, conflicts and character flaws are not always the same things. Usually, even in the most metaphorical, experimental story, there's only one main overall conflict. Character flaws are often unresolved, which can be maddening but also entertaining. Ultimately, entertainment value wins. If, however, your only goal for now is to resolve the beats in a script and reach the magical end, it might be an idea to to limit the conflicts, for the time being.

Lydia Kongouseki's picture
authenticated user
Joined: Jul 2021

Yeah, my goal was to resolve the beats and just get to writing something for this idea. Now I can do that and hopefully pull this off, thank you.

EDIT: I'm so sorry that sounded very dismissive of me. I didn't mean it to be. You make great points and I didn't know what to say so I just gave up trying to generate a response. I hope I didn't upset you or anything I'm just not good at communicating sometimes.

Lily Blaze's picture
Rockstar
Joined: Aug 2019

Don't worry about it. I didn't find that dismissive at all, I'm happy to see you're taking control of your creativity.

Lydia Kongouseki's picture
authenticated user
Joined: Jul 2021

Thank you, I'm glad it wasn't as bad as I thought. Thank you again for helping me.

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