Episode 729: Yesterday Was the Easy Day

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: No Luck

Today’s cliche is by no means unique to the zombie genre. Rather, it’s generally applicable to narrative storytelling in general. I’m speaking, of course, of the idea that the characters in a story should never have too easy a time of things. After all, the story would be pretty short if everything just worked out for the protagonists as if by magic. If Frodo could have simply melted down the ring at the Shire’s blacksmith’s shop, The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have been a very entertaining story. If Princess Leia could have just FedEx-ed the Death Star plans to the Rebels, rather than taking on the dangerous mission herself, Star Wars wouldn’t have set any box office records.

Conflict, after all, is a central pillar of fiction. Without it, you’ve got a pretty boring story. Heroes aren’t heroes unless they can overcome some pretty impressive challenges, otherwise, they’re just regular people. Nothing to get excited about.

Zombies just make it more fun.

About this Episode:

Remember a couple of episodes back where I bragged about how easy it was to get Barb’s figure perched on a window? I had figured it would be really tough, but managed it on my first try? Today’s episode was nothing like that at all. It took about a dozen tries to get Barb hanging off of the truck, and just as I was about to start shooting, I accidentally bumped the table and knocked her down. I wasn’t too happy about having to start all over again.

Discussion Question: Stories without Conflict?

While writing the zombie cliche lookout, I started to doubt my own premise, just a bit. Do any of you know of any stories without any real sense of conflict? I can’t imagine, but you never know until you ask. I’m especially interested in those readers from outside the United States.

11 thoughts on “Episode 729: Yesterday Was the Easy Day”

  1. Here’s a rally big question: We know the prisoners who had the truck in the first place are now all zombies. But what if another prisoner, one as yet unknown to the group, survived, and has been witnessing all of these zombies that his own people have turned into?

    Let’s also say he’s not an idiot or a maniac, and decided to hide and wait until things started playing out so he could make some sense of it all. if this as yet unknown prisoner is out there, watching Barb, what do you suppose he might want to do about her and her snooping around the truck he and his former cohorts had? 😀

    • That’s quite plausible.

  2. I’m pretty sure there was some implied conflict in it, but I went and saw the Trolls movie in early January. It was an okay story about trolls getting eaten by Bergens and having to hide from them and rescue one of their own. I’m not really sure there was a lot of conflict in it, but there certainly was some adult humor in there that kids probably wouldn’t get until they get old enough to figure it out or have it explained to them.

    But a real conflict, like a war or an all-out eradication? No, nothing like that in that movie, unfortunately. It lacked depth to it, and if they make a sequel, I certainly hope they include some additional depth to it.

    Other than that, it might be worth picking up out of the bargain basement bin in the DVD section of the local shop’s movies area, if they have one, but even having a DVD is getting old nowadays with digital downloads becoming commonplace. Don’t pay too much for it, unless you really don’t care how bad a movie is and are willing to watch practically anything.

    • I haven’t seen that one, or even heard of it, actually. That’s quite surprising since I have two young kids that are, presumably, the target demographic for just such a film.

  3. Once was told that ALL stories break down to Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Himself so you have some type of conflict in all stories.

    • Yes indeed, although I was also taught that “Man vs Machine” is another, with the machine representing anything not controlled by man or nature, be it artificial intelligence like The Terminator, or an engineered outbreak like in a lot of zombie stories.

  4. Forgot the female writer’s name, but the “horror” story was:
    “He couldn’t wait for me, so I waited for him.”
    It maybe a man vs. self conflict, but it is implied. Therefore this story to me has no conflicts. It was in grade 11 that I re-read that story and was challenged to make a shorter horror story.
    Mine was one word: “Taxes”. Only the teacher laughed, I hope the rest of you are laughing too.

    Sometimes if the brick has those dots under them, I attach the larger part of the cupping hands on that part if whatever is being held looks right or I use the older walkytalky handle. You might have hidden that trick attached to the mirror with some cropping.

    • Conflict – That’s an interesting one; I’ve heard other extremely short stories in workshops and classes, but that one is new to me.

      Bricks – That’s a clever trick; I’ll have to try that out.

  5. No keys. Did she ask the duck?

    I couldn’t think of a story that didn’t involve conflict of some type. It depends on how broad you want to make your definition of conflict.

    BrickVoid says the Trolls movie doesn’t have conflict, meaning a war, but just from the trailer I could see that there was conflict between the two main characters. One was an optimist, the other was a pessimist. Their conflicting viewpoints, and the resulting disagreements seemed to be a major part of the film.

    But you got me wondering if it was possible to tell a story without conflict. With a bit of Googling I found out there’s a style of Chinese and Japanese writing called Kishōtenketsu which does without conflict.


  6. I recently saw “The red turtle”.
    Overall no real sense of conflict.

  7. Even stories for toddlers feature conflicts… I guess it’s a universal way to tell a story…

    “No Pain, No Story!”