A Disaster Is Not Just a Disaster

By Britt Malka / September 14, 2017

When you write fiction, do you use scenes and sequels? A scene consisting of Goal – Conflict and Disaster?

I did that at first. Then I tried other structures, and now I'm back at Goal – Conflict – Disaster.

I had doubts about all three parts of a scene. Like:

  • At what moment does the main character decide on that goal? Before the scene starts? After the scene has started? The moment it starts? (I'll get back to that in another article.)
  • Conflict… Ooooh, no, conflict. How do I come up with a good conflict? What is conflict? And should it be internal or external or both? (More about that in another article.)
  • Disaster. Ha! Finally something I understand. Right?

Yeah, right.

I thought I understood until a couple of weeks ago, where I made an eurekah and discovered the true meaning of that disaster.

My Previous Understanding of “Disaster”

It could be anything. An earthquake. A villain entering the story. My mother's cooking.

So I would come up with a goal, make my characters go through all kinds of trouble, and finally, the disaster. Something totally unexpected. A true disaster.

Only Not So True Fictionwise…

When I finally found out, I felt so stupid.

The disaster is not something that suddenly happens. It's related to the goal. It's the result.

The point of view character wants something in that scene: That's his goal.

The point of view character meats obstructions: That's his conflict.

Did he obtain his goal? The result is either:

  • No.
  • No, and furthermore (things get worse).
  • Yes, but (things get worse).

That's the disaster. It's related to the goal, and it's the result of the struggles the point of view character has gone through.

Maybe you already knew that?

I know that it feels like I'm the only one in the whole world who wouldn't know, but in the rare chance that you didn't either, then now you do.

That disaster is the answer to the question: Did he reach his goal?