An Approach to (Drama) Writing Part IV: Conflict & Resolution

Part I: Be Fearless LINK HERE!

Part II: Start in Your Mind LINK HERE!

Part III: Use an Image or Phrase to Create Your Characters LINK HERE!

Part IV: Mix in Some Conflict and Resolution

You now have a basic scene in your head, an image from which you’ve created some characters. Now we need to build the tension by introducing the conflict (if you haven’t done so already) and working it towards a resolution.

Conflicts can come in all shapes and sizes. Conflicts can be internal or external.

I want to walk through a couple examples which I recently wrote. An image I had in my mind was a man who was angry, packing his suitcase, and ready to leave. What situation was he leaving? Well, I decided not to make the conflict about what was actually upsetting him. I decided to make the conflict between a man and God. Whatever happened, he is upset and not wanting to hear the lecture from God in his head. He is packing up his life and walking away with his suitcase, and he keeps instructing God that he’s not allowed to come with him. The tension builds as the man keeps walking off of stage and then re-enters to have one more verbal shouting match with God. Eventually he storms off one last time, only to re-enter in a daze, acknowledging that he doesn’t know where he can go to get away from God. That, of course, is the resolution.

Another one I wrote recently was about two friends. One confronts her friend because she knows the other is involved in an abusive relationship. The two characters, one at a time, share the background story until the one in the relationship violently pushes her friend away, not wanting her help. This is the climax of their conflict – it breaks their friendship. The resolution occurs a few years later when the one in the relationship realizes how foolish she has been to turn away her best friend. Now as she’s getting married to “the man who taught her what true love really is” she can only think about her best friend from school, and she feels compelled to call her to make it right – the resolution.

So what needs to be done is:

  • Push the character(s) deep into the conflict. Keep it clear and concise. Build up the tension until the climax leaves the audience wondering what could happen from there.
  • Release the tension to bring resolution. (or semi-resolution or non-resolution). In my first example above, the man has a resolution about his issue with God, but he does not have a resolution about the issue on earth that causing so much angst. In the second one, there is a clear and tidy resolution when the two friends talk again on the phone for the first time in years.

When writing, if a conflict doesn’t feel right, try a new one. If a character doesn’t feel right, give him or her some new traits. Change the setting. There are so many options. Keep navigating along until you find just the right tone and tension that you want.



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