Conflict & resolution


"Fight! Fight! Fight!"

When we say "conflict", the first thing that probably comes to mind is a fight, like this scene in which a group of teenagers ambush a sentry who is part of an invading army:

I rabbit-chopped his arm as hard as I could hit, then grabbed the gun and swung it upwards. I’d been hoping he’d drop the gun with the shock of my hit; he didn’t, but he lost his grip on it and had to snatch at it to try to get it back. At that moment, Lee knocked the man’s cap off and dropped the belt over his head. Now, fighting two battles at once, the man got confused; he tried to push me away and at the same time turned to attack Lee. Then Homer arrived with a rush and, between us, we prised the gun out of the man’s grasping fingers. He knew he was in trouble then.

The Third Day, The FrostJohn MarsdenSource

Conflict comes from opposing forces struggling for dominance.

In this snippet, the conflict is "local teenagers vs soldier from invading army in struggle of life and death".

Highlighting convention in this lesson: Protagonist vs antagonist
Tip: Orchestrating a fight scene

Let's take a look at how physical fights like this might happen in the worlds of our two worked examples.

First one's easy: zombie brawl!

Amos rammed the zombie with the trolley and pinned it against the window, then Expert ran in and cracked it in the face with the folded chair. The zombie's skull thunked against the glass and then rebounded, leaving behind a gooey patch of skin and blood and hair. The zombie struggled against the trolley, hissing and clawing. Amos moaned; Vincent could see him wondering how long he could keep the zombie pinned before it snatched his face. Meanwhile Cindy, over by the doors, was screaming for everyone to leave it and run, but nobody wanted to abandon the food, so Vincent tried jabbing the zombie in the neck with the broom while Expert turned the chair on its side and swung again, aiming to hit it with the edge instead of the flat. This time he somehow caught the zombie's arm, which gave the zombie a chance to grab the chair, rip it out of Expert's hands, and throw it across the floor.

Alternatively, here's a fight in the taxidermy store:

The intruder spun around and got me straight in the face with a blast of spray paint. I went blind and fell backwards, face wet, and a bitter, waxy taste on my tongue. As I knocked over pots of glue and paint on the workbench behind me, I felt the intruder turn and run. I lunged at the space where I thought they'd be, snagged the edge of their hoodie, but they knocked my arms aside and pulled something down on top of me. From the sharp prongs that bit my shoulder, cheek, and scalp, I guessed it was a deer. As the deer head bounced off me, I stumbled after them, shouting and trying to wipe the paint from my eyes, bumbling through the workshop until the intruder hit me with what felt like a Himalayan tahr—a pillow of long, coarse hair softening the blow from a central knob of bone and horn—knocking me flat. Then, while I was getting up, I heard the front door clatter open, the bell ring, and the intruder's sneakered footsteps faded into the night.

What's at stake?
To write a variation
Your turn

That was a fist fight.

What about a more social and emotional fight?

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