Mental Innards


What’s that you say? I thought they were all the same thing, but after reading chapter thirty-one of The Art of War for Writers, I had a light bulb moment. Duh! The dynamic characters we fall in love have two different types of innards going on. According to James Scott Bell, the inner struggle is what the character has going on inside before the beginning of the story. It’s the characters’ emotional baggage they carry around with them. It has nothing to do with the plot, but I suppose if we speak in absolutes, there will always be an exception in one form or the other. Like what if the story arises from the inner struggle? The way one thinks influences the thoughts and behaviors, so then the choices would naturally have consequences, which then could lead to the plot…still with me? Okay, maybe not. Back to the chapter…

Inner conflict arises from the plot. It’s the character mentally processing  the obstacles in achieving his or her objective.  So, it looks like the inner conflict of the character reacting to the plot serves the inner struggle by taking the character from point a to point z on his/her inner journey. Side note: My brain seems obsessed with the Hero’s Journey, so naturally I assume that all characters are on some inner journey. I think that’s what makes them dynamic. They change or learn something. But maybe not all stories focus on the inner journey. Either way, the inner conflict is influenced by the inner struggle, so they work together to bring our characters to life.

So what say you? Confusing? Light-bulb moment? Old news? Got a different take?

One thought on “Mental Innards

  1. […] and tied to the Hero’s Journey, no matter what the story is about. Last week we discussed the inner conflict and struggle of our characters. The conflict arises from the plot whereas the struggle is derived from the […]

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