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WW Asks (2)

December 3, 2010

I don’t have much to update, writing-wise, so I figured I’d chop up Wannabe Writers a bit. I’ll only be answering the questions every week.

Is too complicated bad?

First of all, I think Is complicated bad? would be a better question. If something’s too complicated, clearly there’s too much complication, and therefore wouldn’t be ideal.

Anyway… (Sorry!) Is complicated bad?

No. Sort of.

Honestly, I think complication is fantastic. No one reads a book to watch things go smoothly and to end up with a happily ever after – at least not entirely. Smooth is boring. Uneventful. Conflict and complication bring the spice and pizazz that is necessary to make anything interesting.

If Heathcliffe and Catherine had been able to be happily married and have twelve mentally-disturbed little Heatherines, Wuthering Heights wouldn’t be the action-packed, deranged, and amusing book that it is. Conflict is at the root of the book, as it always is. Life is full of complications, and those complications have both good and bad consequences. They help us grow, develop, and unearth the people we really are. Without the necessary complications, nothing would happen. Nothing interesting or worthwhile, anyway.

Why the “sort of” above? Complication is hard to pull off. If you can’t integrate it well into the story and it stands out as something you’ve simply thrown in, then its impact is lessened. Alternately, if you do manage to fit conflict and complication into the events of the story and personalities of the characters, then you’ve struck a gold mine – you have the skills it takes to tell a good story that readers will feel is worth their time. It’s the complication and the struggle to overcome it that keep readers’ eyes pinned to the pages. Suspense, a super duper important bit of story, evolves from complication and conflict.

Take any book, and look beyond the obvious conflict. Complications are embedded throughout intriguing stories, not planted solely in the climax. In the Harry Potter books, for example, Voldemort and his allies weren’t the only source of conflict or cause of complication. Both arose from Harry’s interactions with classmates (Draco, Seamus, etc.) and his teachers (Snape’s loathing, Dumbledore’s occasional disappointment, etc.), his relationship with his godfather, his struggles with tests, Quidditch, girls (Ron or Ginny? Ginny or Ron? Oh, bugger.). These bits made his life real because we don’t fight toward one goal our entire lives. Every day there are dozens of things we hope to accomplish, and consequently, dozens of things that complicate our lives and stand between us and our goals.

Conflict and complication are as necessary as voice and diction- just as easy to screw up and just as rewarding when done correctly.

Everything is complicated; if it were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore. – Wallace Stevens


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Audrey permalink
    December 5, 2010 10:46 AM

    Interesting post! I like the new blog design!!

  2. December 4, 2010 10:41 AM

    Nice points.

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