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Bob Nailor

Sailing The 7 C's - Lesson 5 of 7

The fifth sea we encounter on our trip upon the high seas is CONFLICT.

There are four (4) basic types of conflicts. They are:

  1. Man vs. Self ~ internal conflict
    †††††† * A Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
  2. Man vs. Man ~ direct or societal confrontations
    †††††† * The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  3. Man vs. Nature ~ animals, weather, land.
    †††††† * To Build A Fire by Jack London
  4. Man vs. Fate ~ destiny, gods, omniscient
    †††††† * Beowulf by Unknown
So exactly what is conflict? Sailing this fifth sea is fun; the waves are the ride and this is where all the action happens. This involves the plot and what it is all about. This is not just some insurmountable task to be accomplished but can be an inward change that happens to your lead character. Physical conflict is good but mental conflict adds a new dimension to your character and depth to your writing skills. This is where you can change the course of your voyage and have fun. Red herrings are great if sprinkled about with the proper amount of caution. Twists and turns keep the reader awake. There are many conflicts in "Sea of Regret" beginning with being shipwrecked. Hanson finds himself alone, trying to stay alive. There is a lack of supplies. I saw no reason to have my character be allowed all the food he wanted.

So often in a stereotypical tale of a shipwreck, an island is always in sight and paradise, or seemingly a paradise, is there to accept the shipwrecked sailor to a haven of safety and leisurely pleasures. I made sure there was no land in sight which can definitely sully even the happiest person's day.

Shipwrecked, he stared at the waves, rolling; down into the trough and its myriad shades of blue and green, up to the top, crested in white with only the distant waves making the horizon. Land was but a dream.

A good writer always has more than just one conflict. So, of course, the added perplexity of a mermaid in my tale of Hanson, can tend to make one think they might be going crazy. Lest I forget, regret is one of the prime players of conflict in this tale with him not marrying Shara Ki as only the first regret. Of course, the conflict of seeing Shara Ki's ice-blue eyes in Ayala's eyes enhances the regret. Not listening to older sailorsí tales was another regret. There isnít just one regret, or one conflict.

Sometimes the conflict can be added in a very subtle manner to build toward the next sea. Here is a small conversation between Hanson and Ayala.

"I have this apple," he replied and held it up.

"What a strange thing," she said. "May I taste it?"

"Sure," Hanson answered. He locked his legs around the pole for stability, placed one hand on the pole and then gently tossed the apple. "Here."

He watched her as she grabbed the object from the air, turned it over and over in her hands then finally brought it to her mouth. Teeth, a complete row of sharp pointed teeth glistened as she chomped the apple.

Her eyes widened and she cocked her head in disbelief. "I have never tasted anything like this," she said. "You call this an apple?"

"Sure do," Hanson said feeling rather proud of himself. "Been eating them all my life. What do you eat?" He arched his back to ease a kink out of it and splashed the waters to remove the numbness from his legs.

"We're merpeople, Seaman Second Class Hanson. We eat what we catch," she said. "The sea teams with food."

I mentioned red herrings earlier. Adding one as a conflict can be useful, if properly played. Perhaps you add a volcano to your tale. It could be a red herring - a distraction. Now putting a volcano explosion into your story that will have no other input other than a disaster in the distance is a waste of the reader's time. This is sometimes what I call, a dead red herring. Yet, that same volcano explosion, with a lava flow heading toward a hospital where you have a loved one ó that will keep the readers on the edge of their seats.

Conflicts need not be major occurrences. For instance, a character debating whether to wear yellow socks is an example of internal conflict, even though it may not be the turning point of the story, it is nonetheless, a conflict which can be played to show the character's thought processes.

Whether it be a novel or a short story, a sole conflict can be the vortex that sweeps your reader to the next sea to be discussed in the next tip.

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