Ha Jin, On Tension and Conflict in Fiction

00:08 [Ha Jin] Tension and conflict, from the first paragraph you must give the reader the feeling of what is at stake.  That's very important.  Then the reader knows this is something that's important, interesting and important, so that they can continue to read. 

00:30 Also, I think the piece has to have some tension in it.  Otherwise, the writing, the story will be very flat and not exciting anymore.  So I think the author intuitively -- I think that most good authors intuitively understand whether the story has enough tension or electricity or power in it. 

01:00 If really that is somehow used up, you have to find a way to recharge it.  For a novel, very often that kind of power comes from the live drama, the plot of something.  So you have to come up with a conflict or dramatic action to recharge the story again and again.  So that, you know, conflicts are resolved.  Also, they should be causally related.

01:30 The conflicts should not be isolated.  The difficult part is not just the creative conflict, but how one episode naturally leads to another one and another one.  The logical, reasonable connection that is caused from [something] development, that's just a more difficult part.  But on the other hand, that's not that difficult because most people can learn it.  Filmmakers and

02:00 playwrights, just because it's a basic -- fiction writers, we all know this.  It's a very basic concept.  Intuitively sometimes, we don't know how we did it, but intuitively we can feel, we know that.  So that is how to create a line, a series of episodes, of course conflict is a part of it, but how to make them natural.  One thing flows into

02:30 another, then into another, another.  That is the important part.