It has been traditionally taught that the conflict in a story and its resolution stems from the hero wanting something and the villain stops him from having it. Through various trials, the hero finally overcome the villain and gets what he wanted all along.
There is a different kind of conflict/resolution scenario. Our hero wants something. Either he is able to get it, he can’t get it, or he is in the process of obtaining it. The rising action runs him through various obstacles so that he is forced to look at what he wanted in the beginning of the story. By the end, he wants something else, something better. And the course of the tale has made him a better person, so e is able to get what he now wants. This form has suited me well in my three novels, HEIRLOOM, DROVER, and PRINCE.
Set in turn of the century Sicily, HEIRLOOM tells the story of Snodatu, who wants to defend the family honor. But in the name of this defense, he kills his uncle and his sister. He eventually learns how backward this is, and decides to rescue his brother-in-law from peril. The problem is, this brother-in-law has sworn vendetta against Snodatu for killing his wife, Snodatu’s sister. And still, he goes on simply because it is the right thing to do.
I placed Ben Bourland in Weatherford, Texas during the 1850s for DROVER. A cattleman wants to come off the trail an settle down. For Ben, nothing could be better than a big ranch and a big family. A few head and a few acres is all he has. After he meets and courts Amanda Jones, he thinks everything in on its way. But calling on Amanda and getting to know her family forces his to deal with the selfishness in his life. So when he must choose between his dreams and the right thing to do, he selflessly gives up on his dreams for a greater good.
It’s a new millennium in LA, and Charlie loves Lizzie. She agrees to marry him. But within an hour, she will be coerced to marry Philip, Charlie’ father. Charlie is encouraged by his best friend to channel his passion for Lizzie into a concern for the suffering of others. Charlie finally decides to work to help those who lives are ruined by Philip’s business practices, and he does so knowing that Philip will try to kill him if he tries.
You can write with the traditional conflict/resolution where the villain stops the hero from getting what he wants, which he ultimately achieves in the end. Or you may try this alternate form. The hero changes inside, and so his desires change – are elevated even. I think it has worked for me.
Snodatu changes from wanting to defend the family’s honor to wanting to help family members in their troubles, even to his own peril. Ben starts out wanting a big ranch and a big family, but eventually he wants to be good person. And when these two desires clash and he must choose, he opts for what is right to the ruin of his hopes. Charlie is forced to deal with his love for Lizzie that he eventually turns into passion for those suffering, even if that passion draws the hatred of the one who cause the suffering.
Compose in the way that suits you. But learn what models and forms are available so that your writing can be its best. Do you have any ideas or opinions? Let me know about them in the Comment section below.
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