Posted by: victanguera | January 10, 2011

Bring on the Conflict: Writing Prompt #286

Yesterday, a friend and I went to see Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera. The movie isn’t too bad. It’s got some great singing and amazing dancing. But what it lacks is realistic conflict–or the movie actually had some great concepts for conflict but several of the scenes lacked oomph.

For example, right away it is set up that the character Georgia is a catty bitch that doesn’t like or trust the new girl. But it nothing ever develops from this. Except for unplugging the mike when Christina goes on stage for the first time, she doesn’t do anything–even when she basically loses her staring role as a result. Georgia storms off at one point, but at the end of the movie, comes back and apologizes.

So what changed her mind? Why would she come back and ask for forgiveness? Although the movie isn’t about her, if you give me enough information to wonder about dynamics, I want a realistic resolution. And I didn’t find this realistic. I found it a cinematic trick to wrap things up in a pretty package for a feel-good ending. For me, it didn’t work. I’d much rather the character didn’t come back.

Another thing: Christina and Cher figure out a way to prevent Marcus from buying the club, but you never get to see how he feels about the situation. That would be more realistic than bringing Georgia back–but would have made for a longer movie.

So for today’s prompt, think about the conflicts you have developed in a scene/story. What realistic ways can you resolve these conflicts? Does it make more sense to leave a point unresolved? Would it be more realistic or would it bother the reader?




  1. I think it’s a balancing act, and the answer has to be different in shorter forms (short stories, movie scripts, novels). If nothing ever pays off, then you are (as someone once said about something I wrote) “too much like life.” But if you make sure everything is wrapped up nicely, it can end up mechanical and airless (nothing at all like life).

    One example that always strikes me is that in movies, any time a man and a woman have an attraction to each other it’s pretty much inevitable that it will be acted on before the end of the picture. In real life, however, those feelings are frequently not acted on, especially if one or both people are already attached.

    I wrote about some of these things on my blog a while back:

    • So true. The balancing act also includes which plot points to resolve. In Burlesque, I felt they resolved the wrong one. Marcus’ character held more weight in the story, so it would make sense to tie up that end. You could leave what happened to Georgia without me feeling disappointed. I guess I felt cheated some how because I didn’t know how he felt about things (including not getting the girl). Still, I did enjoy the movie.

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