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As you begin your journey into narrative creation, there's a fundamental understanding you must internalize - an understanding that's as essential to your craft as breathing. Whether you choose to use Subtxt or another tool, always keep this vital principle at the forefront of your mind:

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

Numerous writers start with an aspiration to craft stories about profound themes: love, heartbreak, caste systems, war. Yet, they often find themselves abandoning their projects midway, feeling directionless and disillusioned. Why? Because they mistakenly equate Subject Matter with Conflict.

Heartbreak, caste systems--these subjects are rife with potential conflict, but they are not conflict in themselves. Conflict lies beneath the surface, in the undercurrents that drive these themes. This underlying tension, this dynamism, is what we call the Subtxt of your Subject Matter.

For instance, heartbreak is a consequence of conflict, but what was the actual trigger? Was it a restless pursuit of novelty, a persistent feeling of inadequacy, or a perceived transgression by one party?

Similarly, caste systems don't inherently embody conflict. In fact, they often represent the avoidance of conflict, neatly segmenting society into distinct categories. But the harmony or discord they bring is contingent on perspective. Some people may find comfort and order in caste systems, while others feel oppressed.

Your opinion, or the Subject Matter, is not Conflict.

Consider a caste system implemented to orchestrate individual efforts for collective welfare. Now, there's an inherent conflict: the tug-of-war between control and freedom. The compelling narrative then becomes whether the journey towards freedom is truly beneficial for all, or if the system of control is a necessary evil for survival.

That's a story.

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

Your personal sense of injustice or discord isn't universal Conflict.

Conflict is born from the clash of two incompatible truths vying for existence in the same space and time.

Consider war. War, by itself, isn't conflict. It's a stage for countless narratives but isn't a narrative itself. It's Subject Matter.

Now envision two characters. One fiercely defends individual autonomy, ready to risk everything for it. The other navigates the complexities of group dynamics, trying to preserve lives on the journey to liberty. These two perspectives can't peacefully co-exist, forming a dilemma.

This dilemma is the heart of your story.

Your story is a mind grappling with conflicting truths. Refrain from merely dressing it up in the garb of Subject Matter. Infuse your narrative with this tension, this story inequity, creating a dilemma that demands resolution.

Give your story a purpose, a reason to exist.

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

Cognitive Dissonance is Conflict.

Subtxt distinguishes between the surface layer (your Storytelling) and the underlying layer (the Subtext). When Illustrating Storytelling, let your imagination run wild. However, when Defining Subtxt, focus on the two clashing perspectives: the source of your story's inequities.

As you embrace this understanding, remember that Subtxt offers a myriad of tools to help you navigate these complex waters. One such tool is the set of 32 pairs of Elements, designed to articulate specific conflicts within your narrative.

Defining the Source of Conflict

Understanding the nature of conflict and how to define it accurately in your narrative is vital to successful storytelling. In this context, it is necessary to distinguish between broad thematic concepts and specific elements of conflict.

Take the example of "Isolation vs. Connection". These terms represent overarching themes or subject matter that might feature prominently in your story. They relate to the context of the narrative, the circumstances and conditions under which your characters operate.

Yet, it is crucial to understand that "Isolation vs. Connection" are not directly identifiable as a pair of Elements within Subtxt. Why? Because these terms, while important, do not inherently embody conflict.

In the realm of narrative creation in Subtxt, Elements of conflict must be more specific and focused, directly pinpointing the core of contention within the story. The terms "Isolation" and "Connection" can set the stage, but the actual tug of war, the true discord or harmony, emerges from the dynamics of more specific Elements such as 'Avoid vs. Pursuit' or 'Conscience vs. Temptation', depending on your narrative intent.

Therefore, while themes such as "Isolation vs. Connection" can provide a rich backdrop for your story, they do not replace the necessity of precisely defining the source of conflict within your narrative using the specific Elements provided in Subtxt.

Establishing the Core Argument of Your Story

When defining the source of conflict within a theme such as "Isolation vs. Connection," your task is to identify which of the 32 pairs of Elements in Subtxt most accurately represent the tension you wish to depict.

These Elements are not arbitrary; they are the fundamental building blocks of narrative conflict, each pair capable of representing a unique dynamic that can bring your theme to life in a meaningful and relatable way. The challenge and the opportunity lie in selecting the pair that will resonate most powerfully within the context of your story.

For inspiration and guidance, take advantage of the Storyteller's Lexicon within Subtxt. Under the section labeled "Arguments", you'll find an extensive compilation of examples that demonstrate how these pairs of Elements function within completed narratives. This section offers hundreds of instances where different pairs of Elements have been successfully used to articulate sources of conflict. By studying these examples, you can gain a deeper understanding of how to employ these Elemental pairs in service of your own narrative.

For instance, if your narrative argument is that avoiding connection with others leads to harm and one should actively pursue connections, then 'Avoid vs. Pursuit' could be the appropriate Elements to explore.

Alternatively, if your story is about how the fear of being hurt when trying to connect is a misguided approach, then 'Conscience vs. Temptation' may be a better fit. In this case, someone who isolates themselves due to fear of being hurt is acting based on Conscience, whereas taking a risk to connect, irrespective of potential hurt, signifies Temptation.

Remember, words like Isolation and Connection pertain to the subject matter, not the source of conflict. The true source of conflict in your story needs to be defined by you, and that's where your creativity comes into play!

Through this process, you'll come to realize that it's not just about selecting a theme, but also about meticulously choosing and maneuvering the Elements that will define the true source of conflict within your story.

This is just the beginning of what separates Subtxt from everything else.

© 2023 Narrative First, Inc.