In my last posting, I introduced the concept of conflict and how a writer can't survive without one. In point of fact, each novel has many conflicts - some major and some minor. These drive the plot forward and make what we write interesting. Without conflict, there's no story. Want an example?
Take a short book that everyone read in high school: Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. You may have struggled to remain interested while the old man fought the fish. Page after page. That was one conflict: Man against nature. It was also man against himself: the old guy could have tossed in the hook, line, and sinker and decided to start out fresh in the morning. But he didn't.
Without that conflict the story would have read: "Old man takes young boy out on the ocean for a day fishing. Then they go home." Wow. Even Hemingway wasn't that sparse with the prose. With that in mind, let's go back to the Alaska Pipeline and seek conflict.
The Top Ten List
1. Michener would probably have begun with the creation of the universe, but we can start a bit later. Imagine the struggles the first explorers to this territory endured. Perhaps a fissure in the ice unseen by the team and which led to a difficult rescue of one of the essential team members.
2. The team gets lost in a whiteout and is in danger of death by exposure. Perhaps they find an ice cave but it's occupied by a rival team and murder and mayhem break out.
3. Once the find has been recorded, First Nations People object to the rape of the earth. Murder can ensue.
4. Environmentalists and oil company moguls clash over use of this fragile land.
5. Conflict arises within the ranks of the environmentalists over how to fight the pipeline.
6. Conflict arises within the ranks of the oil company over misappropriation of funds.
7. Two lovers murder her husband or his wife (or both)and use the setting to dispose of the body.
8. One of the team members is a deserter from a branch of the Armed Forces and success of the mission could expose his true identity. He works to sabotage the effort.
9. Environmental activists fight among themselves over creating a break in the oil pipeline to create support for their opposition to the project.
10. While digging for the pipeline, scientists uncover evidence of ......... (Fill in the blank)...
Just a few possibilities to mull over. Setting is so much more than time and place.