Being here as long as I have been, which is longer than it seems believe me, there has always been something bothering me about the roleplay that occurs (especially chat) here. Now this excludes the Arena because it is built on combat. There always seems to be no creativity when it comes to building conflict. Players and their characters are too quick to allow themselves to just fight anything that they come across who may disagree with something their character said or did to someone else or themselves.
Mary Sue bashed her eyelashes at Gary Stu, so Lary Who went to go punch Gary Stu in the face.
Instead of something of this nature:
Mary Sue bashed her eyelashes at Gary Stu, so Lary Who walked over to Gary Stu and kindly asked for him to put his amazing abs back in his shirt. Afterward, he left to go speak to Mary as to why she was "enjoying" other men, when she claimed to love him and no one else.
Instead of having Lary Who turn to the girl and ask her what was going on, or going into a deep thought process in his mind to come to a conclusion about Mary's actions, Lary immediately went to go attack the source. Now where is the fun in that? There's no build up of the conflict and there's no suspense. You already know what's going to happen, and why it happened. To me, personally, this is not fun to read and it's predictable. Also, when trying to make your characters come alive, this situation is not believable. I highly doubt that the majority of us would have the gall to approach someone we don't know and start fighting them.
What I am trying to do here, is not beat down the writing of anyone. What I am trying to accomplish is to offer different ways to have conflict with other characters without combat!
The first example that I gave you, the most common outcome of conflict, is boring, droll, and not unique. It will only lead to an e-peen battle of who had the biggest ego, and I am fairly confident this is the reason why we have so many powerful characters who reside around the site. They just know that someone is going to create conflict with them, and they want to have the biggest guns so their character doesn't get slapped around too badly. Honestly, what's wrong with losing? Nothing.
The second example that I offered seems as if it solves the conflict but it only re-routes it to where the problem really lays. It wasn't Gary Stu's fault that Mary had been looking. It was only Mary's fault that she had. Since Mary and Lary are in love, there shouldn't have been a reason as to why Mary started drooling over another man. Apparently something is going wrong and now Lary wants to get to the bottom of that! This creates a great alternative to fighting and it's still conflict! Mary and Lary now have to go through an entire plethora of conflict solution options! Will they break up? Will they get into a heated argument? Will they fix things and stay together?
Conflict in fiction can be hugely diverse and creative; just as dynamic as the characters that I have seen in my role play career. It makes a story interesting, gives it a goal to accomplish, and just makes it plain fun! Conflict in writing is a very much needed thing and to make it as boring as just instantly going in to fight, well… that puts any great writer's work to shame, in my belief. But, I want to also add that it's not always this epic, huge, must-solve-problem deal. Conflict, as I said, comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. It can be as small as a passing thought through a character's head that creates amazingly suspenseful and emotional conflict inside that character! And that's what I love the most in writing, right there, having internal conflict. Why? Because it makes the character realistic, alive, and believable!
There are different types of Character Conflict:
Being a collaborative writer, care must be taken with how you approach these situations that come up (and they will!) when writing with another author. No matter how small, if not dealt with the correct way, it easily damages your character and can instantly make your writing inconsistent (which is very bad!). So don't be so quick to grab your sword, light saber, gun, fists, etc. Take the time to draw out and build the conflict's suspense! Not only will it develop your character's inner mind even more, but it will also draw in the reader and make them want to get to know your character. Being able to write good conflict isn't the one who comes out victorious; it's the one that tells the story behind the conflict and gives meaning to the whole ordeal!
Coming to a Conclusion:
Conflict is the infrastructure of writing, and thus for role playing as well. Without it, there is not going to be a story. But again, it does not have to be a fist-fight every single time. Remember after reading this, that creating a suspenseful story is as easy as adding a few internal thoughts on a situation, having your character struggle through a decision they need to make, and then coming to the conclusion. Just jumping into physical combat is not building on your character, and if a character does not evolve and change throughout a story, the plot becomes dull, lifeless, and boring. And you wonder why you get bored! So, take in mind, add a bit of subtle conflict, or try approaching external conflict from another view point. Attempt to look inside your character and see how he truly wants to react. You characters will tell you, you just have to listen.