June 16, 2016

Conflict Type 3: Reflective Conflict

We’re continuing our tour of conflict today. I had been searching around for examples of reflective conflict when I remembered that Nikki, one of my Nurture Email Mastery students, recently sent me this to review:

Pete, my husband of 29 years walked into the home office where I was working. He cleared his throat.

“Hey Nik, I’ve just spoken with a TV producer who wants us to appear on a documentary about infidelity. Is that something you would be interested in?’

He eyed me curiously, trying to gauge my reaction.

Would I be horrified by the prospect of this? After all, just four short years ago I would rather have poked red hot needles in my eyes than let anyone know my hubby had cheated on me. I certainly would not have contemplated broadcasting it on national TV.

I paused and considered the request for a moment. Then I…

Reflective conflict is the ongoing mind-chatter that goes on in your head. Rather than fight with another person you end up fighting with yourself. Reflective conflict is about the universal human notion of choice and dilemma.

Reflective conflict is unlikely to ever be a story in its own right, more often it will be a paragraph or two.

There are two reasons to use reflective conflict in your writing.

The first is that reflective conflict makes you vulnerable. In effect you are offering the reader a peek into the inner secrets of your head. This vulnerability is what creates real emotional connection.

You can’t emotionally connect with somebody who has their guard up all the time.

The second reason is to add intrigue. Nikki could have cut out the reflective paragraph beginning ‘Would I be horrified’, but the writing would be less intriguing. Reflective conflict delays giving your reader the answer to the question you have posed.

Another thing that works here is the reflective conflict paragraph has been set up by a much shorter intriguing sentence; ‘He eyed me curiously, trying to gauge my reaction.’

Reflective conflict paragraphs tend to be longer than average. You are trying to work things out in your head, and this takes more space on the page.

The correct way to lead in to a reflective paragraph is to deliver a short sentence that underlines the question in the reader’s mind.

Note also the question was not posed directly, but through dialogue. Dialogue is a subtle way of raising a question in your reader’s mind because the question is raised in the natural flow of the story, not directly by you as the narrator.

The question felt un-forced because it was worked into the dialogue.

We’ve gone more in-depth into this than I had planned today, but this is the sort of thing we go over for five weeks in Nurture Email Mastery.

If all of that sounded interesting you should join the course. If not, probably not!

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.

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