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I am writing about my experience at place X-- a place that is coveted by many people, a dream come true of sorts!

Problem is: There is no conflict in my experience -- just a description of what a lovely life it was.

A) I'm not sure if I should: Turn it in to fiction-- add drama (but i'm very poor at fiction, so im leaning towards No)

B) I was also confused about the pace.

1) Describe life over 1 day?

2) Describe life over months (faster paced)

I thought my goal was 'write about the lovely experience at place X' was goal enough, but I am struggling and it is hurting my productivity. Thoughts?

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It's hard to identify with a narrative with no conflict. We can all imagine our own ideal scenarios, why do we need someone else's? So, an experience with no conflict is, by definition, not a story.

However, it could easily be the centerpiece of a story. There's basically two modes for doing this, aspirational, where the narrative is about getting to that place, and elegiac, where the narrative is about leaving or losing that place. For the first mode, think Cinderella, which has a fairy tale ending, but lots of struggle in order to get there. The second mode is The Garden of Eden story, which is all about losing paradise.

People will find your narrative much more compelling if it's presented in one, or both of these modes. It doesn't necessarily have to be exaggerated. Just a bit of detail about finding and then leaving this place might be enough. Listen to this song ("Walk on the Ocean") for a very compressed example of the form.

  • Thank you for your responses @ chris , @ S. Mitchell and @ termitesociety. Your questions have helped me become clearer on my aim-- I want people to know that inspite of a better place X, their world is good if they make it so. X is good, but it has its problems. And Yes, after you all have mentioned it, i did change as a person and there was inner conflict! Thank you all so very much! – thedancingqueen Oct 11 '17 at 7:38
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Who are you writing it for? What do you want it to end up being?

As a general rule, story requires conflict in order to work, but it doesn't sound like a story is what you're trying to write. If what you want to do is capture an experience for your own pleasure, simply capture that experience. You only need to worry about conflict and story if you're writing for somebody else, and if that somebody else will be expecting a story when they read it.

If you are set on introducing conflict of some kind, and you don't want to overly fictionalise it, I would ask why this place is such a big deal for you. If the experience of being there was a significant event in your life, are you not changed in some way by it?

If so, and if you're changed for the better, the key conflict might be between the version of yourself you knew (or wanted to think, or didn't dare think) you could be, and the person you were; a conflict which the experience in question would have partially or completely resolved.

Perhaps - for example - you've had other experiences which you thought would induce awe, but didn't. You thought you might've become jaded and unable to take pleasure in things, and then you went to this place and realised you still had the capacity. That might represent a kind of internal victory.

I think the reason stories are full of conflict is because life is full of conflict. We want things, we want to have certain things or go to certain places, or be a certain way, and there are things in the way of that. This results in conflicts (between what we want and what we have), and how resolve these conflicts (by doing what it takes to get the thing we want, or by learning to live without them) is what most (and some would argue all) stories are about.

You can mine your own experiences for conflict, if you like, and work this into your writing, or you can make one up and take a step into fiction. It's up to you.

Remember though that conflict is what makes a piece of writing a story. It isn't necessarily what makes it good. If your only goal is to write beautifully about an experience you had, then I see no harm in you doing that. Writing doesn't have to tell a story, it doesn't have to be popular and it doesn't have to fit anybody else's idea of what writing should be in order to be good. In my view, at least, at just has to do what it sets out to do.

So, what is it you want to do? Who are you doing it for? I think those are the questions you need to answer first.

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I don't think a simple answer is available, but it might help to consider the following questions. Firstly, what is your aim in writing the piece? Are you trying to accurately record an experience or are you trying to persuade someone else to try it, for example? Who is your audience? Were they there too? What would they want to know?

Was there really no conflict? Did you feel unwilling to leave and return home? Were some ideas or values challenged? Was there no inner turmoil? Were you left in tears by the beauty of something?

On the subject of pace, I rarely find that a recount that covers a longer time has more pace than one that covers a shorter time, even though this seems paradoxical. It is just about always better to cover a day, or even an hour, in great detail, rather than try to cover a week or a month. Think of action in novels: the best ones take ages to describe just a few minutes of action making it really exciting and fast-paced, and the poorer ones take only a small space to cover the same action.

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