News | 2007 | No Way Out

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

Well, after taking a bit of a break to get ready for school, I got back to Sol Stein's Stein on Writing. In his section on fiction, he's got these two tiny chapters on plotting which really struck me. The first chapter I want to highlight is The Actor's Studio Method for Developing Drama in Plots. In this chapter, Stein says the best way to create interesting conflict between characters is to have each character approach a scene with a different script. As long as each character focuses on their own goals (which should be at odds with each other), conflict, and consequently, good drama will follow. I thought this was a rather interesting way of thinking about this. By script, Stein means that each character only focuses on themselves--they have absolutely no concept of what the other character wants. Nor do they care (for the most part).

The second little chapter I want to touch on follows right after and is called The Crucible. Here, Stein says that by putting your characters in a crucible (which he calls "a container that holds the characters together as things heat up"), those characters won't "declare a truce and quit." Essentially, he means the characters are more interested in staying and opposing each other than they are in leaving the situation. By having your characters locked into their conflict (whether by location or situation), things will get nice and heated and potentially, very interesting.

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