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Facing problems and challenging obstacles in life

Obstacles | Write:Talk

WRITE:TALK is a blog series about the craft of Christian writing.
Click here to see other posts in this series.

Why All The Conflicts?

Ever wonder why the evening news is non-stop problems? I have. It's just one problem right after another, isn't it? Can you guess why? Here's my theory: Without conflicts, it's boring. Let's face it. You will not watch a show about your neighbor reading the newspaper. Why? No conflicts. No resolutions. No overcoming. Thus, no joy of victory in our struggle through life. We need to see conflicts solved by resolution. We need to see that pattern to encourage us to fight the good fight.

So why do we yearn to see conflicts and problems? Well, as you can guess, I have a theory. Maybe it's an incomplete question. We don't just want to see the conflicts. We like to see conflicts resolved. Take the typical crime drama. Yes, there is the victim, but that's not what compels us to continue to watch. We want the murder solved. Conflict/Resolution. Swiss Family Robinson is shipwrecked on an island. But that's not the end. They must overcome hardship and set up a new life. Conflict/Resolution. 100 fires are consuming Canada, and we want to see firefighters overcoming the obstacles by putting out the fires.

Face Your Troubles

Our main characters must face obstacles, and they can take many forms. Let's look at some from the life of Mary.

  • Mary faces a supernatural event
  • An angel speaks to her about her upcoming pregnancy
  • Mary goes for advice from Elizabeth and asks, "Why me?"
  • Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth and blesses Mary and the baby
  • Mary goes with her fiance Joseph to be taxed, late in the pregnancy
  • Bears the child on the road, in a stable

Now those obstacles are fascinating. The fear of an angelic visit must have been startling, but she didn't panic. She considered what the angel said, and went to a trusted cousin for a second opinion. That's a good conflict/resolution. Then she honestly asked, "Why me?" which is a great inner conflict, (From a writer's point of view) which was resolved by the Holy Spirit speaking through Elizabeth to reassure Mary that she and the child are blessed. Fantastic resolution isn't it? God solved that question with a promise of great blessing.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said will be accomplished."

Luke 1:45

Then the obstacle of a vacation on the road in the ninth month of pregnancy? Oh boy. I would have tried to worm my way out of that one. After all, she had lots of help at home in her lovely bed, with cousins and her mom nearby for the birth. But no, the fiancee insists there is time to get there and back. (I'm guessing) What an obstacle. Riding on a donkey all that way, or possibly walking. Then no room available? It's late, so they take what they can get. Been there, done that (well, not exactly).

What's The Point?

To have a good story, you must build one obstacle after another and resolve it, moving your storyline. Usually, you can start with small problems, then go on to harder and harder ones to get to the climax of the story. In this case, the crucifixion (conflict) is followed by the Ressurection of Jesus (Resolution).


Try scribbling out a list of possible obstacles like this one from The Munich Deployment. Notice that after I started the list of obstacles, (misspelled) It led to some research of the Hague, The Netherlands, and a factory in the Reichmarines. Then questions arose like: Who is chasing them, where are they going, and why are they being pursued?

Good luck and send me your results.

"Iron sharpens iron, and one sharpens another."

Proverbs 27:17


2 comments on “Obstacles | Write:Talk”

  1. Good points to think about. I like the suggestions of organizing the “musts” to have a reasonable and logical outcome to the flow of my story. Thanks.

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