84

There is definitely conflict, in the sense of narrative conflict, in My Neighbor Totoro. Sickness (with possible death) counts, whether it's resolved through any action of any characters or not. Finding Totoro and then not being able to find Totoro, or seeing the growth of a magical grove of trees, and then having it not be there later counts. Not knowing ...


60

My Neighbor Totoro makes heavy use of Kishōtenketsu: Kishōtenketsu (起承転結) describes the structure and development of classic Chinese, Korean and Japanese narratives...The first Chinese character refers to the introduction or kiku (起句), the next: development, shōku (承句), the third: twist, tenku (転句), and the last character indicates conclusion or kekku (結句)...


27

If you don't have some readers disappointed by the breakup, you haven't done justice to the "throwaway" boyfriend The problem appears to be that you want the initial boyfriend to BE a throwaway character, and at the same time want to be hanging story progress around that "throwaway" character's neck. Make the initial boyfriend charismatic enough, make him ...


20

You're saying you've written yourself into a corner. You appear to have to options, and you don't like either. You're forgetting: you are the writer. You are god. Your story is not set in stone, your choices are not limited to those two options. You can find a third option, or you can change the presets. First, figure out what it is you want to say. It's ...


12

The first paragraph of the plot summary for the example you've given suggests there are at least two forms of emotional conflict in the material. The mother's illness, the strangeness of a new place. Conflict need not be in the form of overt confrontation but something needs to be changing to drive a narrative forward.


11

For what it's worth, I am a professor in CS and a mathematician, and I've published in peer-reviewed academic journals original work in the field of statistics, and worked extensively in AI. her character traits are about dogmatic science, trust in law and institutions, and choosing the "safe" options through statistical probability. As a professional ...


11

There's a school of thought that every scene must have conflict, that every scene needs an antagonist. This idea is different than every scene needing a villain. A villain is usually an antagonist, but heroes (or neutral factors) can also antagonize a protagonist in scenes. Some great stories and scenes turn villains into co-protagonists (maybe Severus ...


11

You've suggested that the particulars of their separation don't matter, but it is specifically those particulars that hold the opportunity to sow doubt and hope into the otherwise obvious path. Amp up the intensity of the couple's feelings for each other during that first 10%, while diminishing the apparent scale of the forced division. Then, as that ...


10

Remember back to elementary school. There are three kinds of stories. Man vs. Man (Let's call this Capt. America vs. Iron Man) Man vs. Nature (How about The Perfect Storm or Alive) Man vs. Self (Castaway, for example) Now many "real" stories have some of each category, but every story relies on one more than the other. For your story (with no ...


9

Provide multiple possible resolutions From a Doylist perspective, of course they're going to break up. From the beginning, a long-distance relationship isn't very interesting - having the MC meet someone new and exciting a bit further into the story has much more "meat". So it's just a question of when. Once the conflict appears, it's therefore rather ...


9

What are the dangers of painting a sympathetic view of the killer through the family of the killer’s perspective and in seeing the obvious interior dysfunction of the killer by seeing inside his mind? The danger is in becoming an apologist for the villain, and losing the reader's immersion. I'm not saying it can't be done, but for the most part readers do ...


8

It's an attempt to build tension to the maximum possible. The villain has won. Oh no. Much tension. Will Hero be able to get out of this? How will Hero ever get out of this? The author is hoping these unstated questions will drive tension and keep the reader interested.


8

The answer to your base question is subtext... Give the audience or reader something to chew on and make it enjoyable or terrifying or whatever... but in some way interesting... and some people will come along for the ride. Once they love it enough, they'll pay attention to the details and real or imagined patterns will begin to emerge. You can play David ...


8

Conflict does not have to be grand, and the stakes do not have to be enormous. Consider a romance, like "When Harry Met Sally" or "Sleepless In Seattle" or "You've Got Mail". I'm not saying you should write one, I am saying not one of them has much consequence to them other than "How will they overcome their personal issues to finally get together?" Not one ...


8

Traditionally, people have referred to four different types of conflict that can animate a narrative. Sexist language aside, these classifications can be quite helpful: Person versus person - Your typical villain story. Person versus nature - A disaster story, or a survival story. Person versus self - Your hero must work hard to overcome deep flaws within. ...


8

Remember two things: "no man is all of one stripe" meaning that people are always multi-faceted, villains who seemingly care only for power still love their children and pacifists who wouldn't raise and hand in their own defense may well kill to protect theirs. "people's motives most always seem good to them" people can usually rationalise their way to ...


7

Try to think of this not as a mere means to create suspense, but in terms of character development: Every story is about change. The Three Act structure provides a suitable framework to illustrate the change that your story deals with: Act I shows why change is necessary. Act II achieves change. Act III consolidates the change -- or "transformation" -- ...


7

Well let's look at this from the perspective of the Generals: Whilst this object that could turn the tide of the war is obviously important, it might turn out to just be rumor, or might end up being so well hidden that neither side would ever find it. Therefore committing a significant number of soldiers to pursue the girl is a massive waste of resources. ...


7

It depends on the genre and what you're trying to achieve, but it's certainly an accepted literary tool. The good ol' Man vs Self conflict. It'll almost certainly result in a character-driven novel, but there's nothing wrong with character-driven novels!


7

(1) from the first desire to consummation or (2) from loveless sex to romantic love or (3) from a lack of sexual experience to sexual empowerment – what can cause conflict? I think what you need is an alternative to a plotted novel; these are "character-driven" novels, in which a character may not have an antagonist, exactly, except for the ...


7

Yes. In every conflict, you will have the protagonist and the antagonist. Antagonist does not need to be human, or sentient, or even alive in any sense. For example, in Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, the nature itself is such a non-personified antagonist. But personified antagonist works much better for any story. In your example, "Speed", we have such a ...


6

It's totally okay, and makes for a nice vehicle of the theme (the plot itself is the deepest, subtlest and thus most effective means of making argument, as opposed to say the dialogue/opinions of your characters). But you shouldn't worry about whether or not it's arbitrarily "okay". Hesitation holds new writers back, and one of the quickest ways to develop ...


6

Inner conflict, as I define it, is simply a character's conflict with themself, rather than a character's conflict with the outside world. Inner conflict might be caused by an outside conflict (it usually is), but this is typically because the external conflict reveals something conflicting within the character. Inner conflict can take many forms. Often, a ...


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