Writer's Book Review: The Conflict Thesaurus, Book 2
by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers.net
I don’t remember how or when I stumbled on the Writers Helping Writers website, but I’m so glad I did. The site is a wonderful resource for guides, tools, and advice. This spring/summer, I volunteered to help them promote the new book by writing this blog post. (I also posted a review on Goodreads.com. I did this and am posting this blog entry because I've used quite a few of their (free!) resources to power my imagination out of the stagnant pond in which I sometimes find myself. And it's time to offer my support.)
I really enjoyed the first section, which is a discussion on the uses of conflict. It’s full of examples from popular fiction and movies, examples that help cement the effect of conflict in the reader. You may not know all the references, but usually you can find at least one instance that resonates with you.
The bulk of the book includes the analysis applied to various high-level scenarios. After a brief discussion of the conflict scenario, ideas are lumped under:
potentially disastrous results
possible internal struggles
negative traits that may worsen the situation
impact on basic needs
positive trails to help the character cope
It must have been fun to brainstorm all these suggestions!
I love how Ackerman and Puglisi give inspiring prompts that an author can use for minor conflicts or for major ones. The options listed become fodder for every imagination. There is so much in this book that I found it impossible to sit and read it straight through. Rather, I had to put the book down and stare into the distance as opportunities and variations played out in my head. The book sent my ‘what if’ engine into overdrive.
This thesaurus helps challenge this conflict-adverse person (I mean, why can’t all my characters just get along?!!). It suggested ways to subtly layer little struggles into larger areas of the craft, like increasing tension and complicating a scene. The book provides suggestions on potential outcomes from actions that can deepen the reader’s understanding of the character.
Not to say it’s a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ approach to writing a story. Rather, it’s a huge buffet to feed your creativity. Bon Appetit!
Additional info from the writers:
The Conflict Thesaurus is actually a two-book set; the first book, the GOLD EDITION, started a deep dive into CONFLICT, and this new SILVER EDITION continues that exploration, helping writers master this oh-so-important storytelling element.
If you’re new to Writers Helping Writers Thesaurus books, each one is part “how-to,” part brainstorming tool. So, in this silver second edition, writers learn about how conflict powers plot and functions as a golden threat that weaves the inner and outer stories together. It also looks at the different levels of conflict in a story and how conflict can characterize, create great clashes, raise the stakes, up the tension, and pull off a climatic finish that will satisfy readers.
The brainstorming ‘thesaurus” portion looks at 115 Conflict Scenarios that will help you dream up a variety of problems and challenges that can shape your characters into the people they must become to achieve their story goal.
Angela and Becca always host a fun event at their book launch. This year, they have two things to check out:
Their First Ever Writing Contest:
A book about conflict warrants a FIGHT CLUB type writing contest, don’t you think? So if you want to show off your conflict-writing abilities, come test your skills. You might just win a GREAT prize…and bragging rights, of course!
You Could Win a Digital Bookshelf of Writing Guides
Angela and Becca want you to own some of their favorite writing guides, so follow the link to enter. You might just snag a 5-packs of amazing craft books that will get you one step closer to mastery!
Good luck in the giveaway and writing contest!