Writing Resources: Conflict and Why It’s Important

Conflict!

You need it in a story, and it has to have purpose.

Different types of Conflict

Man Vs. Man

Man Vs. Man is the most common Conflict.  Your character having a villain in his life who just wants to cause trouble.  This is the conflict used with most superhero stories, supernatural stories, and even mystery cases.  Find out who done it.

Man Vs. Nature

I know you’ve watched 2012 or know the story. It is the best example of a Man Vs. Nature kind of story. Man surviving desert storms, the ice age(although I don’t think this is possible in Kenya…but hey, you’re the writer), Floods, Drought, e.t.c.

Man  Vs. Society

This is the type of story that is about one person facing off with an entire society.  They mostly occur in traditional settings, an individual challenging customary rules, and having  a hard time because it’s a challenge to change an entire society.  Most times, this individual may end up being the odd one out, and the story is how he/she handles that sort of thing.  Examples of this are: Mandela’s Story, Martin Luther King’s Story, in Fiction – Avatar by Micheal Crichton.

Man Vs. Himself

This is the type of story I truly love because it starts out with the main character as the underdog and ends with him being the king of the jungle.  Writers that pull off this type of conflict have a great story, one that is shared for ages because each one of us has something we struggle against in our lives.  And the moment you stop struggling and master that thing, it becomes a source of triumph and achievement.  Examples are like the Hellen Keller Story.

There are those who are able to mix all these conflicts in the story, making it complex and exciting.  There are those who prefer to follow one simple conflict, which can leave you breathless as well.  So, it is up to you to plan out your story using the conflict that most excites you and your plot.  Just don’t mishmash it in there and make it confusing to your reader, take it slow and plan it out until it is believable.

Further Reading

Literary Conflict

Literary Devices – Conflict

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Writing Resources – Plotting Romance Novels in Nairobi

I’m in a dream that one of these days I’m going to walk into a Nairobi bookshop and find a full aisle filled with romance novels, or fiction set in Nairobi.  So all of you shy Kenyan Fiction Writers, typing away in the middle of the night in your houses, get creative, even though you have to self publish e-books online, until you can manage to get them printed.  Don’t be afraid, and just write. Be Brave as Dora Okeyo and if you already have published, share the link so I can read it.

Today, I’ll focus on Romance Novels.  I know you read them, we need more Kenyans Writing Them.

The Romance Novel

A romance novel consists of a central love story that ends in a Happily Ever After.

1. When writing a romance novel, you place emphasis on a romantic relationship between your two main characters, and restrict your use of subplots to those that support the romantic conflict.   What does this mean?

E.g. If your main characters are John and Terry, anything that happens in your story should be to support John and Terry’s budding relationship to the end.  Don’t include scenes in the story that will not supplement their relationship.

2. Your choice of language is important.  Most romance readers read a story to live vicariously through your characters.  So, make sure your character’s words, thoughts and experiences are as he/she would experience them.  Put your reader in your character’s thoughts.  Confused?

E.g. Terry squashed herself into the full matatu, and tried to ignore the fact that she was practically sitting on air between two chairs.  She felt sweat trickling on her forehead, and blew air upward hoping to dry it off.  Her blouse stuck to her skin.  She took in a deep breath and grimaced as the stench of  sweat filled her nostrils.  Lord help her, she shouldn’t have run to catch the matatu after all, now she was going to be smelling like a sweaty pig all day.  Someone tapped her shoulder and she turned to her right to find a pair of amused dark brown eyes watching her. It was John, her neighbor’s son.  The guy she’d had a crash on for as long as she could remember….

The example above, while very raw gives you an example of what I mean.  Put your reader in your character’s thoughts.  It makes for an entertaining experience.

And now the most important part:

Plot or Story Arc

Basically, this charts the direction of the events in your novel.  The low points, the high points, the conflicts, complications and resolutions, those delicious events that keep your reader moving from one chapter to the next.

How to get started

1. Know the length of your story. 

1. Short Story – 7,500 words or less

2. Novella – 7,500 – 40,000 words

3. Novel – 40,000 or more

Read about the merits of each length story.

2. Characters: Once you know how many words you want to write, create your characters.  Know their names, and how many of them you’re going to have in your story.

3. Plan your Story Arc – Plot

a. Parts of  a Plot:

1. Introduction of the Plot

– This is the introduction or the setup of your story.  This is the part you introduce your character, e.g. quirky Terry, you tell us about her life, what she does, where she lives, and also include the inciting incident that starts the story. Your main characters meet here, due to an incident, or a situation…it’s your imagination….make it fun and write a great first meet. (cute first meet)

2. Rising Action

-I call this the meat of the story. After the introduction, this part of the story is where you have your characters getting to know more about each other.  Introduce the conflicts, making the stakes rise for your two main characters. They could be cultural, economical, social, e.t.c or even personal conflicts that work to pull your two main characters apart.

Learn more about Rising Action.

3.  Turning Point (Climax)

– Your characters make some decisions resolving some of the conflicts arising in the rising action.  It is a major turning point because you fully develop the relationship despite the foreboding consequences.  E.g. I’ll be with you even though my parents hate you…okay that’s weak, but you know what I mean. You can have your characters facing off with the parents at this point with something major at stake.

4. Falling Action

– This occurs after the Climax, and refers to the consequences of the decisions made in the Turning Point.  E.g. Someone gave up something in the turning point and therefore both characters are miserably apart or one is locked away in jail or at home….hmm…well, my imagination is off today, you might have a better one.  Basically it leads to the dark moment in romance novels when the romance seemed doomed, or over. Lots of tears to be shed.

5. Resolution

– This part includes the dark moment, your characters are struggling, and all seems over, but then a solution is found and your characters can have their happily ever after.

Your job Dear Budding Writer is to take all these parts of the plot and create a great story, that will have me the reader staying up all night to get to the ending. 

Further Reading:

The Essential Elements of Writing a Romance Novel

Tomorrow, we’ll look at Conflicts and why they are such a huge part of the plot.  You can’t have a story without conflict, otherwise the plot will just lay flat and your reader will be bored to tears.  So, Stay Tuned.

Kenyan Fiction Writers

On a side note, don’t be afraid to write Fiction.  We’re in an age where you can’t say there are no publishing avenues.  If you can get online, which is everybody now, you can publish, or share your stories for others to enjoy.  Writing fiction, be it Romance, Mystery, Contemporary, or whatever, do it, so that we can flood the market and make it common place to find fiction written and set by Kenyans.

If you’re unsure how, ask, the questions will be answered, or you’ll be directed to those who know more, right?  Right.  Keep Writing!!

Poetry Week Ends – Recap

Poetry Week Ends!

I’m kind of sad about that because there are so many poems.  I found so many that I don’t think I could reach the end in the next five years.  There are a lot of poets from Kenya out there, quietly posting their work and talent on their blogs.  Which made me think that I should have a Blogs Week soon.

Here’s  a Recap of the Poems I got to check out this week.

Poetry Week Poems/ Lyrics

1. Ask My Shoes by H_Art the Band.

2. You Break My Heart by Nakitare

3. I’m Not Yours to Fix by Namatsi Lukoye

4. Obsession by Maureen

5. Demons of Her Love by Njau Njeru

6. Meditations of a Father by Salem Lorot

I hope you had as much fun as I did.  Great Talent all round!

Poetry Week – Salem Lorot’s Meditations of a Father

I found this poet through an interview on Poets United : Life of a Poet.  Salem Lorot’s interview was so candid, I just had to go check out his work.  This is his blog, he’s posted a lot of poems there, and I only chose one that spoke to me.  Maybe you might find more that interest you.  Here is Meditations of a Father.

Meditations of a Father by Salem Lorot

Son, when I admonished you to curve a path for yourself

To create wonderful vistas of a world unexplored—

Beautiful, magnificent—

Was my voice harsh?

 

When I urged you to grow up to be a man of great learning

Learned in poetry, science, law, theology, philosophy, geology

Did I intimidate you, son?

Did you not grab the earnestness of my plea?

 

Son,  when I walk around and see you dull

Caged by the stifling thoughts of here and now

Do you think me happy

When I know that your mind can soar the skies

Wrestling with the ideas of man and the earth?

 

Am I too harsh to you, Son,

When in my unguarded moments of anger

I tell you that your dreams are too great

To be traded with the present sorrows and want?

 

When I lead you into the night

And point to you the majesty of the skies

Do you mistake me for a senile old man?

When I show you which stars shine brightest

Prodding you to take those stars to your sleep

Do I test your patience, son?

 

When I wake you up at dawn

So that we can watch the sunrise

Do you see me as a mean father?

Do you doubt  my sanity when I weep

Just by witnessing the birth of a new day?

 

Son, when I speak a lot about the flowers,

The stars, the moon, the oceans, the butterflies,

The rocky mountains, the sand dunes

Do you sometimes secretly wish

I would just stop and talk ‘normally’?

 

Son, am I harsh, when I let you in into the greatest secrets of the universe?

Do I bore you, Son?

Poetry Week Thoughts

This poem reminds me of my mother when I was growing up and now.  No matter what age I am, I always find myself seeking my mum out to see what she thinks of a certain situation.  If it’s too disturbing, I ask her, “Why would this happen, why would they do that?” Of course she might not know why, but I feel I have to ask that question because she’s my mother.  And the reason why I’ll ask her these questions even now is because she was always the person who knew the most when I was growing up.  She’d have the answer when I asked the questions.  Strange isn’t it.

Having that perspective of my own mother, I wonder just as Salem does in this  poem; if I was to get my own child, would I be able to become this person to him/her?  This assuring person with all the answers, would I fill that position easily or would I end up a bore, a nag, or seem annoying?  Which makes me wonder now, did my mother have the same questions when she had me and I started asking her questions?

This poem is very thought provoking isn’t it?  I love that it makes me wonder, as Salem does in his thoughts.

 

 

Poetry Week – Njau Njeru’s Demons of Her Love

I found this poem on the Kenya Poets Lounge Group on Facebook. It is written by Njau Njeru.  The only way to connect with him is through his facebook.  So, if you like the poem, and want to send him an encouraging word, please send him a message on  facebook or on the Poem link given below.

DEMONS OF HER LOVE by Njau Njeru

Forgive me love,
i wandered off to strange tits and
thighs and i lost my way home.
Your memories haunt me, broken
promises like dark shadows in my
soul.
today don’t fight me please, let me
say my piece, hear me out, i’m done
lying through my
teeth.
YOU and ME, we spoke of hopes and
dreams and what the world needs,
in bed we spoke of kids, you wanted
sons I wanted daughters,
we agreed on three but had a fight
over naming.
sometimes she cried, asked her
why she said she loved me so
much it was all scary for her.
she said our story would have a
fairy tale
ending,
our stars would align, you and me
would die old as dirt deep in love
like a bleeding fool i had to spoil a
good thing,
the forbidden fruit dangling on my
face and
i chunked it,
wandered off to strange lips and
hips never to find a way home.
bent you out of shape, tears to
headaches
nights on end,
you shut the world outside your
heart like an iron box on your rib
cage
my mistake like a stake through
my heart, I broke into a drinking
binge to feel numb.
you avoided me across the entire
digital and virtual spectrum,
the pain never stops, friends say
your tears
still fall,
today i mend fences, on bended
knee and
awkward social graces, i make my
plea
you have to know demons of your
love hang on my heart like bats,
in a purgatory of pain, your name a
hound of your spawn that plagues
me.
its a long shot but if you ever take
me back,
I‘ll love you till I‘m dry, start from
scratch and work my way up
sweet and dark love no one heals
from.
why won’t you look me in the
eyes, your lips they tremble
say something love …anything.

Poetry Week Thoughts:

I chose to share this poem because I love how raw it is.  There is no moment the poet minces words, instead he just lets it flow, stating his pain clearly, and the regret in his words makes the poem shine.  I love it when poems are written this way, because the emotion packed in the words paints such a clear picture, it’s easy to understand what the poet is saying.  Great Job Mr. Njeru.

 

Poetry Week – Maureen’s Obsession

Poetry Floweth! 

Here’s another poem that’s crossed my desk.  This one is by a fabulous lady who is an emerging entrepreneur.  Her name is Maureen and you can visit her blog to learn more about the struggle that is sustaining a business in Nairobi. She has great insight on how to face some of those struggles you meet when you’re running a business, or starting one, or even ending one.  Give it a check,  here’s the Blog.

Obsession by Maureen

It’s got me tripping,

Think I’m slipping,

This fixation,

So totally distracting,

No Relaxation,

Crazy how I’m reacting,

It’s all consuming,

I’m shaking,

So uncontrollable,

I’ve tried resuming,

But that seems unattainable,

It’s officially a mania,

My complete obsession,

Pales in contrast to Lawrence of Arabia,

It now has full Possession.

 

Poetry Week Thoughts:

This poem can describe anything you’re crazy about in life.  Be it books, writing in my case, love, business, a sport, your family, a vice,…the list goes on.  Is there something in your life that you just can’t stop?  This poem makes me think of that thing.

Poetry Week – Namatsi Lukoye’s I’m Not Yours to Fix

Today, this blog features, Namatsi Lukoye.  She’s a poet, writer and performs Spoken Word.  I visited her blog and found a very stirring poem named I’m Not Yours To Fix and just had to share it.  She has shared a lot of her work on her blog.  So stop by and give it some love.

Here’s Namatsi Lukoye  by Namatsi:

I would love to call myself a fashion designer but I guess that name is reserved for people who know exactly what they are doing in that profession like Angie (my mum). I am an all round artist; I do basically anything I put my hands and heads on. That said I am an extremely talented copy cat… I can make anything that has a fabric and a stitch on it if I put my mind on it. I am also a spoken word poet and a writer, which gives me a split personality because when it comes to poetry… I write deep and recite with emotion. As for writing, I have had the honor of interviewing some of the highest achievers in my country.

I’m Not Yours to Fix by Namatsi Lukoye

There is nothing as terrible as living in a circle,
when all you want is a dark corner that you can comfortably hide and cry in
How do you live as an open book when every reader is a critic
Watching your every step and even when they don’t say it
You feel it…. the judgement in the eyes as they scroll one word to the next

(a feel of what’s coming in :- All that I am – Namatsi)

I am trapped in this circle;
What i really want well the heavens lied about it
So I am lost somewhere in paradise… confused
It is not as it was told…
The rivers are not clear… pure blood
The gates are not golden… iced tears
There is no music… Choir master rebelled!
And I miss everything,
Everything I once hated
Everything that I once believed in…
Even the silence between us
I miss the stench of our rotting corpses…
Even the worms crawling on top of us… I miss it all

I wish I should have listened to the voice inside… I am not yours to fix
I am not a mix that you need to solve with your tricks
Learn this… I am not yours to study or to feel sorry for
My life is not your politics, don’t pray for me or hope that I will change
Words floating to the sky don’t have a thing on me! That’s not my cage
I am not yours to worry about… so let me die in this drought
Tasteless sorry french kisses you give, what do you know about being a friend!
I stopped trying and learning how to pretend… am not good at it
Let’s be enemies, let’s kill these dark melodies
DIE! DIE! DIE!
I am not here for you to try correct
Let my pride be the end of me… because I will not listen to you
Let me live as I please, love as I want, and if the result is to burn… then let me burn
BURN! BURN! BURN!
Till the sky cries and the earth sings
Let me go to a road of finding me alone
I miss me every aspect of me! Even the drama queen who held a knife!

Mimi siwako wa kukosoa, kufunza wala kujaribu kuunda (**I’m not yours to correct, to teach, or to fix)
Usikose usingizi shida zangu ukijifanya watatua (**Don’t lose sleep pretending you’re fixing my problems)
I know that I am fragile but aren’t we all… so when I break into pieces
Stay away, I have elements of the devil himself I could cut you… or worse I could kill you!
And anyway, how you gonna help me with a knife in your hand
A log in your eye? And the rejoicing smile you do when you turn away!
I see you… beneath all your eeeish… I feel you
I am not yours to fix… I am not yours to fix! And never yours to save
Poetry has always done that, don’t try compete

This voice you killed… I want it back
I am tired of this space… of the light
I am not a defined script, I make my own way in this journey heading to death,
Death, that kind cruel friend who smiles at us all and takes us to rest,
Why is she misunderstood?
I am not afraid of her…
Anyway, till trees grow downwards and waterfalls make love to the sky
In times of misty doubt and clear joys,
I am on a trip to find me… and I don’t need your sympathy

**ellyinnairobi translation

Poetry Week Thoughts:

There is nothing as terrible as living in a circle,
when all you want is a dark corner that you can comfortably hide and cry in
How do you live as an open book when every reader is a critic
Watching your every step and even when they don’t say it
You feel it…. the judgement in the eyes as they scroll one word to the next

There have been days when I feel like this, facing the world, your family and friends, your community, everyone has something to say about how you’re living, what you’re doing, what you say, and it can get heavy, burden you until you feel the best thing to do is runaway.  When I read this poem, it really spoke to me and the way Namatsi ends it, “>…I’m on a trip to find me...” that right there is the beauty of life and the goal we must all work toward if we’re to find happiness.