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There are, fundamentally, two kinds of problem: technical problems and moral problems. A technical problem requires working out a workable technical solution. It is subject matter for a technical manual. A moral problem requires a choice between two values. It is the subject matter of novels.

The reason that moral problems are the subject of novels and not technical manuals is that moral problems have no perfect solution. They are a choice between values, and thus the protagonist must give up one thing they value to claim the other thing they value. Thus in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has ishis pride and Lizzy has her prejudice, but they also fancy each other. Darcy will have to give up his pricepride and Lizzy her prejudice if they are to achieve the competing value of love.

Here's the kicker, though. This contest of values does not just apply to good people. Bad people have competing values as well. Do I steal the marchioness diamonds thus allowing my arch enemy to escape forever, of do I kill him and forego the diamonds?

In traditional good vs. evil plots, the essential conflict for the protagonist (the good person) is, do I try to save my wife/child/dog/country/budgerigar, at the very likely cost of getting myself killed, or do I stay out of it and buy a parakeet instead. In other words, the moral choice is fight evil vs. stay safe. That is a huge chunk of literature right there.

But there is no reason you can't have bad people grapple with a choice of values. That works just as well. It is a smaller, but certainly significant chunk of literature. (Have a look at Graham Greene's Brighton Rock for instance.)

So, to resolve the conflict, you first have to frame the conflict correctly. One of these bad people is your protagonist. They have two values (however mean and craven they may be) and they will be forced by circumstance to give one up to maintain or achieve the other. That is your conflict, and you resolve it by manipulating them into a position where they have no choice but to choose, and then you walk them through the events that follow to prove to use that they have indeed chosen. The end.

There are, fundamentally, two kinds of problem: technical problems and moral problems. A technical problem requires working out a workable technical solution. It is subject matter for a technical manual. A moral problem requires a choice between two values. It is the subject matter of novels.

The reason that moral problems are the subject of novels and not technical manuals is that moral problems have no perfect solution. They are a choice between values, and thus the protagonist must give up one thing they value to claim the other thing they value. Thus in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has is pride and Lizzy has her prejudice, but they also fancy each other. Darcy will have to give up his price and Lizzy her prejudice if they are to achieve the competing value of love.

Here's the kicker, though. This contest of values does not just apply to good people. Bad people have competing values as well. Do I steal the marchioness diamonds thus allowing my arch enemy to escape forever, of do I kill him and forego the diamonds?

In traditional good vs. evil plots, the essential conflict for the protagonist (the good person) is do I try to save my wife/child/dog/country/budgerigar, at the very likely cost of getting myself killed, or do I stay out of it and buy a parakeet instead. In other words, the moral choice is fight evil vs. stay safe. That is a huge chunk of literature right there.

But there is no reason you can't have bad people grapple with a choice of values. That works just as well. It is a smaller, but certainly significant chunk of literature. (Have a look at Graham Greene's Brighton Rock for instance.)

So, to resolve the conflict, you first have to frame the conflict correctly. One of these bad people is your protagonist. They have two values (however mean and craven they may be) and they will be forced by circumstance to give one up to maintain or achieve the other. That is your conflict, and you resolve it by manipulating them into a position where they have no choice but to choose, and then you walk them through the events that follow to prove to use that they have indeed chosen. The end.

There are, fundamentally, two kinds of problem: technical problems and moral problems. A technical problem requires working out a workable technical solution. It is subject matter for a technical manual. A moral problem requires a choice between two values. It is the subject matter of novels.

The reason that moral problems are the subject of novels and not technical manuals is that moral problems have no perfect solution. They are a choice between values, and thus the protagonist must give up one thing they value to claim the other thing they value. Thus in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has his pride and Lizzy has her prejudice, but they also fancy each other. Darcy will have to give up his pride and Lizzy her prejudice if they are to achieve the competing value of love.

Here's the kicker, though. This contest of values does not just apply to good people. Bad people have competing values as well. Do I steal the marchioness diamonds thus allowing my arch enemy to escape forever, of do I kill him and forego the diamonds?

In traditional good vs. evil plots, the essential conflict for the protagonist (the good person) is, do I try to save my wife/child/dog/country/budgerigar, at the very likely cost of getting myself killed, or do I stay out of it and buy a parakeet instead. In other words, the moral choice is fight evil vs. stay safe. That is a huge chunk of literature right there.

But there is no reason you can't have bad people grapple with a choice of values. That works just as well. It is a smaller, but certainly significant chunk of literature. (Have a look at Graham Greene's Brighton Rock for instance.)

So, to resolve the conflict, you first have to frame the conflict correctly. One of these bad people is your protagonist. They have two values (however mean and craven they may be) and they will be forced by circumstance to give one up to maintain or achieve the other. That is your conflict, and you resolve it by manipulating them into a position where they have no choice but to choose, and then you walk them through the events that follow to prove to use that they have indeed chosen. The end.

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There are, fundamentally, two kinds of problem: technical problems and moral problems. A technical problem requires working out a workable technical solution. It is subject matter for a technical manual. A moral problem requires a choice between two values. It is the subject matter of novels.

The reason that moral problems are the subject of novels and not technical manuals is that moral problems have no perfect solution. They are a choice between values, and thus the protagonist must give up one thing they value to claim the other thing they value. Thus in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has is pride and Lizzy has her prejudice, but they also fancy each other. Darcy will have to give up his price and Lizzy her prejudice if they are to achieve the competing value of love.

Here's the kicker, though. This contest of values does not just apply to good people. Bad people have competing values as well. Do I steal the marchioness diamonds thus allowing my arch enemy to escape forever, of do I kill him and forego the diamonds?

In traditional good vs. evil plots, the essential conflict for the protagonist (the good person) is do I try to save my wife/child/dog/country/budgerigar, at the very likely cost of getting myself killed, or do I stay out of it and buy a parakeet instead. In other words, the moral choice is fight evil vs. stay safe. That is a huge chunk of literature right there.

But there is no reason you can't have bad people grapple with a choice of values. That works just as well. It is a smaller, but certainly significant chunk of literature. (Have a look at Graham Greene's Brighton Rock for instance.)

So, to resolve the conflict, you first have to frame the conflict correctly. One of these bad people is your protagonist. They have two values (however mean and craven they may be) and they will be forced by circumstance to give one up to maintain or achieve the other. That is your conflict, and you resolve it by manipulating them into a position where they have no choice but to choose, and then you walk them through the events that follow to prove to use that they have indeed chosen. The end.