“In daily life, a writer may practice conflict avoidance, but in fiction a writer must welcome conflict and walk straight into it.” – Charles Baxter
Tension and conflict are indispensable to great stories. Whether through good old-fashioned action or unbearable inner turmoil, our characters need a solid sense of stakes in our writing. This can be notoriously difficult to do in fiction, especially as we draw from our own lives and the world around us for inspiration. In our daily lives, we may, rightly, avoid conflict, but in our fiction, we need to embrace it, and even actively search of it.
In this workshop, we’ll look at how to successfully build and follow through tension and conflict in our writing. What are some of the ways we can welcome (more) tension into our stories? And how do we build meaningful, rather than superficial, conflict in our writing? How do tension and conflict contribute to successful characterisation? We’ll look at how these crucial craft elements function in the best writing, with the aim of understanding how to utilize them effectively and enrich our own work. We’ll look at stories by Danielle Evans, Flannery O’Connor, Jamel Brinkley, Margaret Atwood and D. Wystan Owen, among others. In class exercises will focus on honing our craft and fine-tuning our technique. We’ll also plumb our own writing for insight and lessons.