I found Jon Franklin's discussion about conflict and resolution very helpful. In my own writing, I often struggle to make the story a cohesive narrative; I now realize that I don't always match the conflict to the resolution. In my personal narrative, for example, I feel as if I focused my conflict on my peers and my resolution on myself. I was apprehensive, however, about his idea that every story must have a resolution. Radiolab may not function well as an example here since it's an audio podcast and not a written narrative, but the segments within each episode and the overall episodes almost never have resolutions. If anything the listener finishes the podcast with a greater sense of conflict than that which they were originally presented, but with satisfying bits of new knowledge. Rarely do I find myself bored by stories told through this medium despite the prevalence of resolution-less conflict.
I also appreciated Franklin's strategy for outlining. I have not resisted outlining completely, but I usually use an extensive version of the Roman numeral outline. Franklin's method makes much more sense to me--I hadn't thought about using a short outline that focuses on the action of each segment instead of on the beginning sentence of a paragraph. While I think Franklin exaggerates the brilliance of his method--is every writer really going to excel using this specific outline style only?--he presents some useful ideas when it comes to narrowing down a story to its basic and necessary elements.
The stories at the beginning of the book helped to illustrate Franklin's points. I found it useful to look at the way in which he would outline the two stories that he published so he could keep the reader engaged throughout the final product. He printed a traditionally organized story and a saga, which helped to illustrate the differences between those two forms. Unfortunately Franklin's ego got in my way in this section as well. The action in "Mrs. Kelley's Monster" really drew me in, but I found the ending to be fairly unclear. Was he trying to flash back and forth between the break room with Dr. Ducker and Mrs. Kelley's room? I still don't think he makes it clear that she dies, instead implying that she may be on her way out but that Dr. Ducker may go in and do a second surgery if she recovers. In this respect, I think the story is a bad example for explaining a resolution to a story's main conflict. "The Ballad of Old Man Peters," however, made the saga outline much clearer, as it showed the ups and downs of each segment and how Franklin tied them together into one coherently focused piece.
1. Are there cases in which an author should stray from following Franklin's conflict--action--resolution model?
2. To what extent is this statement helpful: "To be of literary value a complication must, first of all, be basic." To what extent might that limit a story?
3. Franklin says that the best stories tell of characters who change profoundly throughout the narrative. Is this always true?