Conflict

Lee Murray smallWhat a great sun-filled weekend here in the Bay of Plenty!

One weekend last year, I attended a talk by one of my favourite authors, Anna Mackenzie, who hails from that other well-known New Zealand bay – the Hawkes Bay. Many of you will know Anna as the author of books like High Tide, Out on the Edge, Shadow of the Mountain, The Sea-wreck Stranger, Ebony Hill, and Finder’s Shore. (Wonderful stories – and more ideas for your New Zealand Book Month reading list.) Anna told our group how she’d been passionate about writing from a young age – she even showed us an exercise book full of stories written while she was at primary school, all beautifully illustrated in colour pencil. What struck me was that very early on, Anna had cottoned on to the idea that for a story to be successful it needs conflict. This was made very clear, because in her now-tatty exercise book of handwritten stories, little Anna had spelled out the word BUT in bold capital letters. Already, Anna had realised that there is no story without BUT, no story without conflict.

Take a look at the following story ideas. Can you see that it’s not until we reach the word BUT, when the conflict is introduced, that they start to get interesting…

  • Tara and Mikey head off to the beach with Dad BUT the car breaks down outside a creepy farmhouse…
  • Aroha leaves her potato bread in the laundry to rise BUT when she comes back, something else has grown instead…
  • Jonathan goes to footie practice BUT he’s had to bring his gear in his little sister Gemma’s pink backpack and now the guys on the team are laughing at him…Cattra's LegacyYou’ll be pleased to know that Anna has a brand new book coming out in just a few week’s time. Called Cattra’s Legacy, it’s the story of 13-year old Risha, whose father dies suddenly, leaving her an outcast in the mountain village where up until now she’s lived a simple life. BUT Risha disguises herself as a boy, leaving the village with traders on a quest to discover the truth about her mother, Cattra, and her heritage. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’m going to pop into the library and reserve a copy…
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