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Joel Arnold

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Sardinian Silver (Chapters One and Two)
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A young Englishman, working as a tourist representative, seeks romance in Sardinia, a fascinating if relatively backward country. Nevertheless, his experience is full of ..  
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Blogs by Joel Arnold

How I Envision Conflict When Writing
3/3/2011 12:36:16 PM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

As writers, we've heard many different metaphors for adding conflict in our stories - obstacles in the path of our protagonist as she reaches her goal. I've heard it described as sticking your character in a tree and throwing rocks at him, sticking your foot out and tripping him when things are going too smoothly, putting roadblocks, mountains and raging rivers in their paths.

One image that keeps coming to my mind whenever I write something comes from a mini-golf course I played at a long time ago. This mini-golf course (or putt-putt as my wife likes to call it) was one of the old school ones - not a beautifully landscaped Pirates Cove, nor an indoor course with fluorescent pinks and limes glowing under a black light. No, it was one where those propeller-like seeds from maple trees littered the tattered and faded greens no matter how often they were cleared away. Where there was the weather-worn windmill, which you had to reach inside if your ball entered at just the right (or wrong) angle - and you hoped you weren't bitten by anything rabid or poisonous. These are the mini-golf courses inside a chain-link fence, and the colored balls are no longer as bright as they once were. You get the idea. Anyway, one of the holes in this particular mini-golf course was a straight-on level shot, except...

Except up from the middle of the green grew maple trees. Real, live maple trees, about fifteen/twenty years old, ones you could barely wrap both hands around. And they grew on the path in such a way that you really had to work the ball around them to get to this hole which otherwise would've been a simple shot.

This is the metaphor that pops into my mind whenever I write a story and realize I need to throw in some conflict, some obstacles to make the story a bit more interesting; gnarly, water-starved maple trees growing up through faded, stained and torn green carpet, blocking my shot in a game of mini-golf.


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More Blogs by Joel Arnold
• The Sucking Suckathon of Suckiness - Monday, May 21, 2012
• Mississippi Pearls and a Car Biding Its Time on the Ice 'til Spring - Thursday, December 29, 2011
• One Decade, One Story - or how One Thing Leads to Another - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• Racing Minnesota-style! - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• This Here Minnesota Horror Author was a Big Old Scaredy-Cat - Thursday, December 22, 2011
• Jack the Blob Killer - Monday, December 19, 2011
• Death Rhythm - Tuesday, September 20, 2011
• More Writing What You Know - Monday, September 19, 2011
• How I Interpret 'Write What You Know' - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• Blessings - or - What I write after having one too many... - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• 120 Miles in a Canoe - Monday, June 27, 2011
• On Stephen King - Thursday, June 23, 2011
• Why Horror? - Wednesday, June 22, 2011
• Zen & the Art of Swearing - Friday, June 10, 2011
• If Coffee Shops were Run by Airlines - Thursday, May 12, 2011
• Trying to Figure Out What Scares Me - Monday, March 21, 2011
• My Confession - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
• Going Indie with my novel Northwoods Deep - Friday, March 04, 2011
•  How I Envision Conflict When Writing - Thursday, March 03, 2011  
• Wall Drug - why it's one of my favorite places - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Jonesing for a Road Trip - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Snowmapocalyptopalooza - Tuesday, February 01, 2011
• How Do You Remember? - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• When your parents are librarians... - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The genesis of a novel - the first 6 days - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
• Searching for Truth - Characterization - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• Control - and a little more about Northwoods Deep - Monday, December 13, 2010
• Bukowski - Wednesday, December 08, 2010
• Flies, Flies, Spam, and Flies - Friday, December 03, 2010
• Naivete and the Young Writer - Thursday, December 02, 2010
• For Writers looking for some Adventure - Wednesday, December 01, 2010
• My usual rider for family/friend appearances - Tuesday, November 23, 2010
• Writing and Me - a dramatization - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day (now with vitamin C!) - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• The Power of Music - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• To All the Bookstores I've Loved Before - Monday, November 15, 2010
• The Care and Feeding of Writers - Sunday, November 14, 2010
• Rudiments - Thursday, November 11, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day - Wednesday, November 10, 2010
• Tragedy - now with 50% more pathos! - Tuesday, November 09, 2010
• Perspective - Monday, November 08, 2010
• The Daunting Dauntiness of Tweeting on Twitter - Saturday, November 06, 2010


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