I remember when I first began studying literature and was taught about the four kinds of conflict:
- Man vs. Man
- Man vs. Self
- Man vs. Nature
- Man vs. Society
Now, of course, it’s taught as “person” instead of “man,” and readers and critics argue passionately and with compelling evidence for other types of conflict (e.g., person vs. supernatural, person vs. technology), but I still like the original four and generally can figure out a way that any conflict falls into them.
Another of the things that I was taught is that man vs. nature is one of the trickiest for an author to write without turning drama into melodrama–nature can be so big, so ferocious, so daunting a force against a single person.
In his story “Foundations,” Timothy Forry uses a cataclysmic natural event–a hurricane and its aftermath–to tell a more personal story of a man struggling with a crumbling relationship and his dread that he’s waited too long to repair the damage.
This is the time when I tell you that you can read the entire story in Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, when it goes on sale on January 14, 2014. Except you can actually read it as soon as you order it, because it’s available from online booksellers in paperback and ebook format RIGHT NOW. Time to treat yourself to a Christmas present. Buy extra copies for gifts, too!
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved.