Tag Archives: conflict

Fiction Has No Room for Comfort?

I think that every novel I have ever read has given me a feeling of tension. Every chapter, at least in most cases, has had some kind of conflict. I simply cannot recall a relaxing book.

In a comfortable, relaxing book, nothing really happens. In the genres I read, there’s always a sense of danger, tension, or friction. Failure is catastrophic. Death is a great possibility. I wouldn’t say there’s always conflict, though.

The beginning of a book will occasionally start out happily, but conflict comes very soon. Lord of the Rings and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are a couple examples. But usually, books start in the middle of conflict.

The ending is usually the only place in a novel that is calm and relaxing. The danger has passed and the conflict resolved. I find that’s usually true, unless it’s part of a series or trilogy.

What do you think of this? Is conflict always necessary? Have you ever read a novel that’s mostly free of conflict? Looking forward to your comments.

I Wrote a Scene I Enjoyed Very Much

Have you ever written a scene that you had a lot of fun writing?

I just wrote the opening scene of part 5 of Journey to Ariadne, and it’s so different than what I’ve written before.  I’ve written a scene with anger (Paolo’s anger is very controlled), but this scene I wrote was just pure joy to write.

I don’t know why I loved writing it, but it was filled with an intense anger by a character who has a very bad temper.  That felt good!  I’m going to have fun with this character.

Who enjoys writing scenes with conflict and powerful emotions?  Let me know in the comments below.

On a related topic, part 4 is finished, but I’m just waiting for it to be critiqued.  This could take a couple weeks, and I’ll likely have part 5 finished before then.  I’m working on this much faster than before.

Revealing the Antagonist’s Plan

Every writer needs to decide how to reveal the antagonists plans, intentions, and motivation.  How much should be revealed?  When?

In some cases, the reader gets to see everything.  We can find out what the antagonist wants and what they plan to do.  We know more than the protagonist.

In other cases, we know as much as the protagonist, and everything is revealed as they learn about it.  There’s much more mystery.

Both cases have their advantages and disadvantages.  The first type doesn’t give us much to think about.  We know what’s going on.  However, we don’t know the outcome.  There can be a kind of suspense in this case, especially if the antagonist has a similar level of power as the protagonist.  They could be evenly matched, so we see a great struggle to overcome each other.  We understand the dangers that the protagonist must meet, and we may even know the weaknesses of the antagonist.  This kind of story can be frustrating because we tend to criticise the protagonist.  We know what could be done, but we can’t affect the story.

On the other hand, the slow reveal can create a great amount of suspense and mystery.  We don’t get to see the antagonist’s motivations, thoughts, or even know what they’re capable of.  We only know what the protagonist knows.  It’s as if we’re part of their team or group as a kind of observer.  We don’t know how powerful the enemy is, nor do we know what they’re capable of.  Anything could happen.  One disadvantage is that we have no idea if the enemy has a limit.  They could have immense powers that are never shown until the last minute, making us wonder if the writer is just making things up just to create more suspense.

I’ve read books with both kinds of approaches, and they both work.  Superhero stories almost always reveal everything to the reader.  We can anticipate a great struggle, and that’s what we want.  On the other hand, a crime story has us in the shoes of the police or other investigator, and we know just as much as they do.  It makes us think.

So, what do you prefer?

Colonising a World: Potential Risks

Imagine traveling through space in a large metal can at nearly the speed of light.  What can happen?  The ship can hit a small object, maybe only a few millimetres across, and it can rip through the metallic shell and cause major damage.  So, of course, there are some ways to protect.  Thicker walls, electromagnetic deflection system, or maybe even a kind of warp bubble will keep that kind of thing away.

But going ahead to the landing of the colony, what kind of hazards can colonists encounter on the planet?  Plenty.

Weather

The type of planet will indicate the kinds of weather-related hazards there are.  A dry world could have massive dust storms.  A wet world will have huge cyclonic storms.  Somewhere in the middle, you have something like Earth.  You can encounter anything from tropical cyclones, flooding, thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, and landslides.  A planet with a more eccentric orbit can have wildly different weather depending on the hemisphere.  One hemisphere may be more stable, while the other has incredibly large fluctuations, such as a short hot summer and long cold winter.

Ariadne is in a rather favourable position, being somewhat like Earth in temperature and orbital eccentricity, as well as axial tilt.

Geology

A seismically active world will have earthquakes, volcanoes, thermal vents, and tsunami.  A seismically dead world will likely have little to no magnetic field, which spells a lot of trouble. The solar wind would be stripping the atmosphere and radiation would be higher.  Not a good situation.

Ariadne is seismically active with large mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

Animals

Presumably, a world with life will have animals, though it’s quite possible to have only plant life, or something completely exotic.  But if there are animals, some may be dangerous.  This can range from large predators to small parasites.

Ariadne will have animals.  I’ve mentioned it before, and there will be a large variety of alien animals.

Disease

Bacteria and viruses may develop on other worlds, but it’s quite possible something totally unique will evolve.  However, they may work in a similar way to Earth bacteria and viruses.  Whether they’re compatible to human biology or not remains to be seen.

Ariadne’s situation is inconclusive.

Sentient Alien Life

What if the colony planet is already home to intelligent life forms?  This can prove to be a major problem.  An advance survey of the planet should reveal a technologically advanced life, unless they all live underground.  It is entirely possible that a pre-industrial society may live in forests and be unseen by orbiting satellites.  But what happens if they’re advanced?  Would they allow humans to live on the world with them? Or would they defend their planet and try to kill or expel the colonists?

Ariadne’s survey does not reveal advanced technology or a pre-industrial civilisation.

Human Conflict

It’s inevitable that the dangers on the world would be from the colonists themselves.  Mob mentality often results in irrational behaviour and fighting.  Differing ideologies may result in friction between different groups, and then conflict.  It may be inescapable.  Rules can be set for how countries can be established, but will those countries behave in a civilised manner toward each other?  Hopefully, with an entire world waiting to be explored and settled, everyone can be satisfied with what they have.

On Ariadne, it remains to be seen, but as this is going to be a novel series, it’s obvious there will be conflict.

Do you have any ideas what can threaten a colony?  Leave a comment with your thoughts.