Secrets and Lies: Creating Conflict
Objective: Students will add conflict and complications to their stories. They will also be given a solid block of time to write.
- For explorations – plot fish diagram, Vonnegut video (for older students)
- For expansions – writing utensils
The focus of this lesson is identifying where in a story conflict comes from, including physical and emotional obstacles, and then creating conflict for their characters through writing exercises. Students will also be taught some of the most common story arcs in existence.
Students will have time at the beginning of the class to finish their maps from the previous lesson. When the maps are complete, they will be given instructions for a writing exercise to come up with some secrets each of their characters have, and some lies they could tell.
Once they have a short list, students will go over the plot fish that they filled in during the last lesson to see where they can add some of those secrets and lies in order to create the maximum amount of conflict for their characters.
Finally, students will be given a solid block of time, 45 minutes or so, to write.
Students will be directed to come up with a list of three secrets for each of their main characters, two lies that they could tell, and one thing that might happen if any of their secrets/lies are exposed.
As a group, the students will go over the plot fish diagram again, using a familiar story like Cinderella, to get a sense of where some of the conflicts are found in a story. If there is time, the students will be introduced to the shapes that most stories take. Kurt Vonnegut gave a great lecture, though it can be done without the video as there is a little bit of inappropriate for school language. Students will then be asked to fill in or move around any of the conflicts and complications on their own plot fish, based on the secrets and lies they just created.
If they are still having trouble creating conflict, or there is extra time, the word associations character exercise from the first lesson can be inserted here. This exercise can be done multiple times over the course of writing a story, because it typically turns up something different every time.
By the end of the lesson, students should have a good start on their stories. They will have created characters, settings and conflict. They will be directed to write three pages, double spaced, and include the hook, set up, first scene and one complication of their story. The idea with the page count is to make sure that they have enough material at the end of their first draft to work with for revisions.