Self doubt is something which is natural to every human being. Exploiting that to take forward the story is a neat trick. If you got the character arc right, you possibly would have a flaw in your hand. Exploiting that flaw to bring about the conflict would lead to progress or probably a plot twist in the story.
I had attended a workshop on writing organized by a leading daily. In the exercise, the instructor asked us to take up a real life incident and asked us to write it verbatim. Then she asked us to fictionalize it. She asked us to use the very character of the first story to fictionalize it. Here are few tips she gave,
- Flaws, fears, secrets and morals – All go hand in hand. If you design the morals, it is easy to play around with flaws, fears and secrets.
- The character should be able to realize the flaw but shouldn’t initially be equipped to resolve it.
- Usage of external forces to resolve the conflict is one way to do.
- The hard route however is to equip the character, build plot lines such that the characters learns how to over come the flaws with minimal support from other character.
To a novice like me, that was brain buzzing information. I needed a character to relate with. Thankfully, just after that workshop, I read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I’m not sure if Atticus Finch is the right example for flaw. He is one character who treats everyone as equals. He doesn’t differentiate racially and treats his kids like adults. He has never had to rethink is position on his morals even when he is assigned the task of defending a black man. His major flaw that I understood was his insecurity in raising is kids. Every single time some one challenges him about his ideologies of raising children, he takes up the bait and tries to defend himself. That’s probably the only flaw in such a character with moral compass very intact.
Re-reading Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner gave me a new perspective of things. I realized when the character is in early stage of development, it is easier to bring in a conflict. He is initially guilty that he let his friend to be exploited. Then he goes on to feeling betrayed when he learns about the secret that his father has hidden from him so long. Finally, he atones and redeems himself by taking his nephew to the states for education. That’s one full perfect cycle of internal conflict and development.
Drop in your thoughts and suggestions about Internal conflicts!