A Little Conflict.

Crystal-Pite

Writing conflict is difficult. Scary, even. It demands that you venture past the edge of what feels comfortable.

When I write conflict from a comfortable place, it feels like pretending. Because I am pretending. If I feel totally okay while writing it, there's no real struggle. It doesn't feel true.

Crystal Pite's talk on conflict and choreography has me thinking deeply about the what and how of writing conflict.

She's a dancer and choreographer. Her talk is called “Conflict is Vital.” Watch the whole lecture when you have time (it’s about 30 minutes long).



If you look up "What is conflict in literature?" you'll learn how to differentiate between external conflict (human vs. human, human vs. nature) and internal conflict (human vs. herself).

But how do you write conflict well? What does it feel like to write it? How do you know when you're hitting it?

“I find it really compelling to see a performer dancing right on the very edge of their ability," Crystal Pite says. "I think there is conflict inherent in the effort of trying to achieve something that is really difficult.”

I love this.

Can you write the way a dancer would dance? Can you write to the very edge of what you're capable of writing?

Where do you struggle? Find that place. Write there.

That's our homework this week. Let me know what happens in the comments below.

More soon,

Sarah Selecky

Trust yourself.
In The Spotlight: Claire Battershill

5 comments

This is quite beautiful, Sarah. Thank you.
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Katie Hauser

wow - what a great parallel to a writer - 'Can you write to the very edge of what you’re capable of writing?' - an epiphany of a question. a challenge. thank you, thank you
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Hmmm, I like the underlying message here, Sarah. The comparison is a tricky one, though. I used to dance competitively (a problem in itself - why do we try to quantify artistic expression by turning it into a competition?) for years and years, and know how it feels to dance to the very edge of my ability. I knew when I had - the burning sensation at the edges of my lungs, a strange miasma of emotions, and only a burst of adrenaline between me and an attack of the jelly legs. Writing is a trickier beast. There's something intangible about it; it lacks the physicality of dance. I constantly wonder whether I'm pushing out of my comfort zone in what I write, but can never figure out how to gauge it.
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Mary Nicholson

I just shared w my writing group that I love the idea of writing something, and hate that act of actually doing it (not really). It is just that there is so much resistance to being at the edge of your truth and the opportunity to express your view, or how you see a character's view, of the world through literature. But I think that writer, or other artistic profession, KNOWS that this is the place where he/she HAS to be. It just is.
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Thank you Sarah for sharing this video. I connected with her talk. When she mentioned ‘sketching ideas to see what will go together’ I thought of the many bits of stories I have and how some bits find there way into a larger whole, resulting in conflict. When she mentioned expanding on a particular movement, I thought of how I find places in my writing to enlarge meaning/conflict through expanding what is there. What a creative woman.
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