The Revolving Conflict Phenomenon

I’m currently reading Blue Like Jazz, a collection of essays by Donald Miller and the most honest book about Christianity that I’ve ever read. Please, before you jump to any conclusions that the book is just another one of those “holy-roller self-helpers,” give this one a chance. It addresses the real–I mean really real–grit of life, even vomit. Heck, with chapters titled “Penguin Sex” and “Sexy Carrots,” it has to be something special, right?

The book has now inspired a movie, and Terry and I saw it for the first time at the theater last night. Like the book, the movie was original and captivating, plus it revolved around one of my favorite insights of the book: that personal beliefs are often formulated just like the basic elements of story. Our faith can take shape through the timeless progression of setting, conflict, climax, and resolution.

When the movie was over and we returned to our car, Terry asked what I thought about the movie, what I liked about it, etc. I couldn’t help it–I replied with grunts and stared straight ahead. I can only describe my mental state as a mix of sadness… and frustration… and hope… and apathy… and determination. That’s one potent cocktail for my feeble little brain, so I went straight to bed when we got home. You see, though the movie had met its final resolution, it had created a new and powerful conflict within me.

Call it the “revolving conflict phenomenon.” To me, such is the mark of good writing–when the original story births another story within the reader’s or watcher’s soul. Blue Like Jazz made such an impression on me, and I look forward to living into my own resolution.


WRITING PROMPT 1: Outline a story idea using the basic elements of setting, conflict, climax, and resolution.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Try to write about a current conflict in your life.

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2 thoughts on “The Revolving Conflict Phenomenon

  1. Joe Pineda says:

    It’s definitely the sign of a powerful work of art when it leaves you affected in some way. It’s the one thing people often seem to forget about good fiction in general.

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