Reply To: Conflict and the End of Fiction

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Noah Cochran


Thanks man! I’m glad my thoughts are at least somewhat interesting. 🙂

I’m sure there are many people who disagree with you, but I think several would concede that more conflict at least makes  a story better, but conflict being omnipresent is not necessarily always needed for a good story.

I’d take the conservative and defensive argument that I don’t see why the story of the man going to the dentist and finding conflict would be more inherently interesting, in a vacuum separated from all other literary and narratological theory, than one without more than cursory conflict. I’m happy to concede that I can’t think of a great story completely without conflict so I won’t try to brace myself in my corner any further than that.

You don’t think conflict would it improve it, and yet you haven’t read a good story without it? Kinda talking out of both sides of one’s mouth with those statements. xD

You’re case studies were fine and valid, but I would argue that even they had an element of conflict. Maybe I’ll read one in its entirety to find out sometime. 🙂

I understand that you’re saying many of the best classics did not constantly revolve around conflict, but again, all the ones I can think of still had several elements of external and especially internal conflict that gave the book the story element it needed. Instead it would almost have been poetry, or poetic descriptions, which doesn’t mean it would have been bad, but it means it wouldn’t have really been much of a story.

As for Rothfuss, let me clarify. I did not mean that his books were centered around conflict, but from what I’ve heard from other readers, there is most definitely character arc and coming of age (and thus internal conflict) and fights, difficulties, and antagonists (thus external conflict). Take away all of that conflict, and you’re left with poetic descriptions, not really a story. Not to say his books aren’t known for their fantastic prose and not such much about its conflict, but my point still holds that conflict was very necessary for the story.


Thanks Buddy. 🙂


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