Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…


In the beginning of my writing years I often struggled with creating enough conflict (on the page) for my characters. But then one day at the Willamette Writers Conference, while listening to my brother Clark Kohanek speak on many, many things, it clicked; conflict can be as subtle as the choices my character needs to make that are in direct conflict with their values. AHA! Choice is conflict.

A quote from Clark’s Transitions class;

Choice: Conflict and Dilemma
A CHOICE between right and wrong, good and evil, is an obvious one.
In storytelling a character makes a CHOICE based on REASONS that center around the main VALUES of a character.

Conflict: is a struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses dealing with those values.
True choice is — Dilemma

Clark has shown me how to use objects in my writing to help define who my characters are, what they desire, how to reveal their wound, and so much more. Or places, like the barren sand dessert of The English Patient, to reveal the emotional landscape of a scene or story. Look at the objects, places and things in your story; are they random or do they deepen your narrative?

Robert Ray and Jack Remick also focus a great deal on this visual aspect of storytelling, in The Weekend Novelist.  Read this page about creating dramatic conflict…

Clark Kohanek
CLARK’S BIO: A native of the Northwest, Clark Kohanek is a freelance illustrator, storyboard artist and commercial director. Weiden and Kennedy, Anonymous Content, Dark Horse and Universal Studios are only a few of the ad agencies, studios and production companies Clark has worked with over the last 13 years. Clark has also worked with Oscar Award winning actor, writer and director – TIM ROBBINS– on his feature film “THE HERETIC” and Showtimes “POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS.” In addition Clark has created conceptual art and storyboard work for “Another Night at the Museum” with BEN STILLER; Megan Whalen Turner’s Newbery Award winning “The Thief” for Disney/Bruckheimer, and a sci-fi spec for Bryan Singer. In 2005 Clarks horror/comedy The Undertakers was a Nicholl Fellowship Quarter Finalist. Clark has just completed a trilogy of screenplays called THE BLOOD OF ANGELS that deal with secret societies that hide the identities of fallen angels. Clark currently works and lives in Los Angeles, though travels teaching visual storytelling and screenwriting workshops at various writing conferences throughout the year.


This entry was posted on November 19, 2011 by in Drama.
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