Quotes: Conflict Is One Kind of Behavior

“Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing. Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin

I’d like my speculative fiction actually inventive, you know. Just like a human being is rarely reducible to one trait, yet that treatment is often used in storytelling as a shortcut, especially when it comes to characters deemed less important, like women, children, old people, or minorities of various stripes.

Which is not to say that stereotypes, caricatures, or the like don’t or cannot have a place in storytelling. However, if the majority of storytelling focuses on nothing else than characters or story elements reduced to their bare bones, it’s bound to become boring and empty.

There is so much more to our world, let alone imaginary worlds!

Found via Martha Wells on Tumblr.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Quotes: Conflict Is One Kind of Behavior

  1. paulliverstravels March 2, 2018 / 18:51

    I know when I’m stumped with my heroes the easiest thing for me to do would be thinking of what the villains are up to.


    • Eppu March 3, 2018 / 10:21

      One of the most impressive stories I’ve read lately is Kate Elliott’s Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors’ Gate). The overall story is about conflict in the Hundred, with a new regime trying to take over. So many of the personal arcs involve “relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing”, however, and not just one option per person. Very skillfully crafted, multidimensional characters.

      Liked by 1 person

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