Author Topic: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?  (Read 946 times)

Offline C.M.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« on: January 19, 2012, 09:22:14 AM »
In my current WIP my protagonist and antagonist do not actually meet or become aware of each other until a third of the way into the story. Even then they do not immediately become enemies or realize that the other is or will become an opponent. That comes later. I have not yet decided when the characters will make that discovery. I gave my characters some personal conflict in the early chapters to reveal character. How long will a typical reader wait for the protagonist and the antagonist to actually start butting heads?

Offline mfarraday

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012, 09:51:52 AM »
i definitely think you can distract the reader with character development/other conflict at first....not sure how much the reader can take, though? i struggle with this problem of putting off direct conflict, too. looking forward to seeing what kinds of replies you get, since i've also wondered. nice topic.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 09:53:45 AM by mfarraday »



Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63376
  • So many jobs to do . . .
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2012, 10:21:37 AM »
So what has driven the story so far if your characters haven't registered a hint of conflict with each other yet? In my current WIP the baddie isn't aware he'll be found out, he's only known from a distance through events he caused my MC and his family, but he is 'there' waiting to be found and dealt with.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 10:23:30 AM by 510bhan »
Ambassador for NI. [without portfolio] 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/mwc/as-the-kettle-wolf-whistled/paperback/product-21544909.html

Offline HPvD

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 600
    • View Profile
    • HP's Happy Writing Blogspot.com
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2012, 10:37:17 AM »
Possibly 'Movie Script structure' can help here because, as far as I understand usually when you look at it based on a typical Movie script 3 Act Structure,
you will have a movie that takes about 120 min. with Act I 30 min. (setup), Act II 60 min.(conflict), Act III again about 30 min.(revelation)
possibly this can help? I do think that with this in mind you might have a little guide, although I do think it's always possible
to do things a little extra creative and a little different :)

(Btw what do you mean with WIP?)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 10:45:06 AM by HPvD »
To your Happy<i> - Writing -</i> Inspiration, http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com

Offline Suemcb

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 903
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2012, 02:51:06 PM »
WIP - work in progress.   (That's one of the very few I do know.) :)
'The Dragon Who Couldn't Breathe Fire',  and 'Lost, in Forbidden Mine.' ebooks on Amazon

Offline C.M.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2012, 05:51:29 PM »
Oh, I'm definitely following three act structure. Ch 1 begins with the protagonist recognizing a hole in her life that needs to be filled. There follows a chapter or two of searching for a project to fill the hole. Then comes a chapter or two of preparation, but by the end of Act 1, the project is clearly underway. It's a complex project, where things will go wrong quite naturally, even without the help of an antagonist, so the first few challenges for the protagonist have nothing to do with the antagonist. Maybe a third of the way into Act 2, the antagonist emerges, and as Act 2 evolves, more and more of the protagonist's problems are caused by the antagonist. At the end of Act 2, the antagonist appears well ahead in the game, but this is only to set up the big come back in Act 3. I guess my question is 'Will the reader be satisfied in the first half of the book with the protagonist dealing with problems that are not caused by the antagonist?'

Does every problem have to be caused by an antagonist? Or can the reader derive entertainment pleasure from the random things that go wrong in complex processes?   C.M.

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63376
  • So many jobs to do . . .
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2012, 05:56:15 PM »
That sounds fine to me -- after all, your reader would like to get to know your MC and how they cope with dilemmas. As long as the protagonist doesn't appear like a curve ball, happy days IMO :) :) :)
Ambassador for NI. [without portfolio] 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/mwc/as-the-kettle-wolf-whistled/paperback/product-21544909.html

Offline HPvD

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 600
    • View Profile
    • HP's Happy Writing Blogspot.com
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2012, 03:01:19 AM »
As far as I understand the Antagonist doesn't always need to be an actual character or person, it can also be for example
like a Hurricane or some other Force of Nature or something else. Chances are that having different types of
Antagonists can make the story even more interesting.
To your Happy<i> - Writing -</i> Inspiration, http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com

Wolfe

  • Guest
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2012, 04:44:37 AM »
You've confused conflict with an antagonist. Conflict means man versus man, man versus nature, man versus God, or man versus self. The antagonist is any of those mentioned versus the man. There is no novel that can get away from this.

What you've done is delay the actual story until Act 2. If I had to bet money, Act 1 is backstory and character development. If you intend toward publication, you cannot put off conflict whether direct or indirect.

Your question suggests you believe your readers will wait until the 'direct' conflict. It also suggests you hope and pray they will do just that. That they'll show enough patience for this event to finally happen.

Let me correct you of that suggestion.

They won't. At all. Ever.

So, to answer your question, you have one paragraph to show conflict, again whether direct or indirect, in your novel. For the more patient, a page. For an editor, a line. Yes, one line. We want to see a story-driving problem in the first lines, first paragraph.

No one in publishing is going to wait until Act 2 for the real story to start. Please remove from your mind the idea that they'll wait. If you choose to believe otherwise, it's going to be a painful road ahead.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 04:50:44 AM by Wolfe »

Offline C.M.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
Re: How Long Can You Put Off Direct Conflict?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2012, 09:09:12 AM »
Thanks all.     C.M.