Posted by: nancycurteman | August 11, 2010

How Important is Conflict in a Mystery Story?

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In the mystery novel, conflict is the element on which plot is built. Conflict provides the change or growth of characters that is essential for a good story. Here are some important things to remember about conflict:

• Simply put, conflict is this: a character wants or needs something, s/he tries to get what s/he wants or needs, another character or situation blocks h/er efforts, s/he reacts. That’s conflict.

• Anything can be used as conflict as long as there are two opposing forces. The more equally matched the opposing forces, the greater the conflict.

• There can be several kinds of conflict in a mystery story: conflict between characters, inner conflict, conflict with nature, conflicting philosophies.

• Each conflict must impact the process of solving a crime and/or other subplots such as relationships.

• Conflicts can be anything from a life-threatening physical battle to an inner effort to make a decision.

• There can be many conflict points in a story.

• These conflicts can be resolved at various stages of the novel provided the author continues to introduce new, more serious conflicts until the tale reaches the final climax.

• Conflict often involves emotions such as anger, jealousy, fear, grief and frustration.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about conflict is if there is none, there’s no story.

More writing tips:

How to Create Minor Characters in Your Mystery Novel
Pacing: A Critical Element in the Mystery Novel
What is Literary Style?
What is Theme in Literature?
Developing Characters is No Mystery
Author’s Voice: How to find it?

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Responses

  1. I hope you are going to put this series into an E-book(let) at some point in time. Thanks.

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    • Thanks for your encouragement. I hadn’t thought of an E-book.

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  2. Good post, Nancy.

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  3. Excellent!

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  4. Great overview, NC!

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  5. Thank you for more great teaching on telling a story in writing, and in particular, a mystery.

    Like

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