08
Nov
08

conflict webs and three features

Here’s the pitch. You have an interesting location – you have a vague idea of what kind of people are going to be there. Now what? People in that location have to be more than just abstracts but they need to be distinctive, easy to understand without being cliche and there has to be enough but not too many…

The conflict web (hat tip to Chris Chinn) creates one or more conflicts between three to twelve individuals or groups. Each side of a conflict needs to be given a primary character and if appropriate two or more supporters to represent a distinct aspect of the primary character’s point of view. Leaders and supporters need to have relationships with each other (usually positive or with a motive that forces support) as do conflicting parties (usually antagonistic).

Now, each of those characters or groups needs a little something to make them distinctive. Since three is the magic number let’s give them three distinctive sensory features (pausing only to hat tip Jared Sorenson) and that should provide some fuel for whatever inspiration will follow. So let’s say for example the leader of the first faction is Brazilian, wears a white fedora hat and has a tribal dolphin tattoo on his neck.

Rinse and repeat for your other individuals or groups.

Most mind mapping tools work good with this – not only can you place relationships between individuals but you can also annotate them as well. Their position in the conflict web and the distinctive features reveal relationships, implying history and background stories. Does our Brazilian leader practice macumba or does he just like wearing white hats and playing the mysterious stranger?

In any event, conflict and characters must be of interest to the protagonists be it as part of a scene or if they may support a side in the conflict. Flesh this out as little or as much as you need.

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