Inner Conflict in Writing Dramatic Fiction

					Inner Conflict in Writing Dramatic Fiction
In creative writing, the internal battle within a character is called the
inner conflict. Good conflict results from two equally strong opposites.
The same is true for the emotional fight inside a character; therefore,
two equally strong opposites need to exist within the character the
writer creates. These opposites can be a mixture of clashing feelings
like anger, hatred, and love, and incompatible goals, desires,
uncertainty, pressure, uneasiness and so on. An inner conflict may also
be between what a character wants and what he thinks he wants.
Most inner conflicts are the outcomes of a character's misunderstanding
of his self. When people cannot get what they want or they cannot get
their needs met, they will adjust to the present circumstances by
developing mask-like, shadow parts in their personalities. Psychologists
call these adjustments or mask-like parts sub-personalities. In time,
these sub-personalities, especially when they are formed in childhood,
become glued to the person and they fool their creator-character as being
his true personality. Just think and ask, within yourselves, how many
parts of you are who you really are, and if those parts are set in your
personality by your parents or other circumstances at one time or another
in your life.
These sub-personalities cause the weaknesses, imperfections, quirks,
vices and sometimes strengths inside a person. On the plus side, they
push the plot forward, and they humanize the character, so that the
readers can empathize with him . At the same time, they cause the tension
to stay high and keep the conflict going.
As to the resolution of the inner conflict in a story, the first step is
recognition. Recognition begins when the character notices his mask-like
parts, even though he may be unnerved and intimidated when he first faces
them. Sometimes, the writer incites the character to detect and recognize
his sub-personality or a variation of it in another character, since
seeing the faults of others is easier on most human beings.
Once the mask-like part is recognized, observing it in action is the next
step. A character sometimes may observe himself first and then recognize
what he is doing and why. This is usually followed by the character's
transcending his sub-personality and thus resolving the inner conflict.
This is important: If a conflict is introduced in a story, it has to be
resolved. Readers expect that from the writers, and if any conflict--
internal or external-- is not resolved, readers will feel cheated.
Inner conflict is the most difficult type of conflict to express, because
no writer can truly capture an entire person. It is even more difficult
if a character's inner conflict is also the story's central conflict.
Willy Loman, in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, struggles between
his dreams and his reality and his true personality and circumstances.
His personality wavers between being the exhausted, broken, old man and
the livelier, optimistic, boastful earlier self with grandiose daydreams.
These two clashing sides of him result in failure and drive him to a
violent death.
For a novice writer, making the inner conflict the central conflict of
the story can be a daunting task, unless the writer has a vast knowledge
of human psychology. Another pitfall for a novice writer can be to limit
the expression of inner conflict to the internal dialogue. Internal
dialogue can be important; however, when it is the only means to show
inner conflict, it can be inadequate and quite dull. The best way to show
inner conflict is to attach it to the external and interpersonal
conflicts and circumstances and by letting the character take action
based on his inner urges.
Cyrano de Bergerac tries to overcome the shame of ugliness or rather his
being unacceptable by becoming unique through brashness and exaggerated
heroisms. An example to this is when he crosses the enemy lines to
deliver his poetically written love letters.
The movie American Beauty first shows Lester as the perfect husband who
has a perfect family in a perfect neighborhood, but this perfection is
only on the outside. The happy family and the perfect neighborhood is an
abyss of sorrows, and Lester suffers from a misdirected longing for
youth, which he interprets as lacking responsibilities and being
carefree. His inner conflict is put into action when he finally snaps and
falls for his daughter's friend. Here, Lester is not the only one with
inner conflict, but everyone involved have their own crosses to carry. As
seen from this example, giving importance to the inner conflicts of
secondary characters and weaving them with that of the protagonist's
result in a successful psychological drama.
Whether an inner conflict is subtle, breathtaking, or heartbreaking, it
must be psychologically convincing to the reader. If a writer takes a
minor misfortune without tying it to a stronger emotion or past
experience, his story will sound trite. If a young woman is upset over
her latest haircut, the failed haircut may not be convincing enough for
the reader, unless a backstory, a solid reason, or a personality quirk
lies behind it.
To sum it up, inner conflict is contradiction within the self. The war
inside makes a character act in a complex manner. As a result, he creates
the drama for the story.
Joy Cagil is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for
Fiction Writing.

				
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