Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Covering Iraq

Those who want to support Bill Roggio's outfit, Public Multimedia, which hopes to "have six reporters in Iraq", visit his site. Wesley Morgan is currently writing from Iraq, and Joe Talley, a television producer and documentary filmmaker, just arrived in country and will be providing updates. In September, Bill Ardolino, who embedded in Fallujah in this past January, is going back to follow up on the progress of the Iraqi Police and Army, and their Police and Military Transition Teams. [Bill Roggio] will be in Baghdad with David Tate, a photojournalist, for most of September. Blake Powers, who writes at BlackFive, is scheduled to be in northern Babil and Anbar provinces in late September."

One reader wrote to ask whether I was off to Iraq, probably misled by the title of this post. That's not the case. This is a plug for Bill Roggio's efforts.Nothing follows


Blogger Doug said...


To an enemy in need of assets, a press that is increasingly disengaged is like an empty car with keys in the ignition—begging to be stolen.

How the keys came to be left in the car, and how the inevitable theft managed to go unreported are questions for a different dispatch.

To really understand the dynamics of the Battle for Mosul , it suffices to say the enemy started with a media advantage that they continue to exploit even now.

8/22/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Cowboy Confessional

August 10th, 2007

I loath conflict, thought not in my personal life. Just in my writing.

Get any group of fiction writers (as opposed to a random group of reprobates) together and the discussion will eventually get around to the subject of conflict or tension. Conflict drives every plot of every story. The story can be comedy, drama, or the internal dialog of a drug addled psychotic freak, be they a Congressman or Senator.

A lot of fiction lacks the construction of conflict. Sometimes the conflict is too mild and thus not a convincing driver for action of the characters. Sometimes there is not enough variety of conflict, and thus the work becomes monotonous. Other times the type of conflict is beyond the scope of the reader - something they never experienced, and to which they cannot relate. Any constrained conflict is deadly.

I believe this is what keeps many good writers from becoming great writers, and many bad writers from ever receiving a royalty check. They do not think-through a variety or conflicts and do not pick those that an average reader would respond. This is why basic conflicts — mainly love and violence — are the nauseatingly recurrent foundation of most Hollywood drivel. You can’t go wrong with passion, be it the passion to ravage a gorgeous woman (or to be ravaged by a hunky man) or to kill someone who damn well deserves it. Everyone member of the audience can connect with primal emotions and the conflict therein.

There are exceptions. Take Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The book is marvelously well written, with Fitgerlad’s humor carrying the burden of the story. For most of the book the conflicts are petty and would be forgettable aside from the Paris Hilton-like voyeuristic look into the lives of well heeled drunks. Fitzgerald takes a long time to get to the big conflict, though in this instance the payoff is worth it.

In a novella I’m starting to shop, I take conflict many steps further. The protagonist has one major conflict throughout the book — he died in a car crash, his wife survived, and his love for her keeps him from finishing his transition into death. But in each chapter I introduce another conflict with a series of antagonists. Some conflicts, like his undying love (pun intended) are internal. Some are external in his dealing with other ghosts and the living. And in a style I favor, I foreshadow the next conflict at the end of each chapter so the reader is compelled to keep reading.

Of internal and external conflicts, external are the easiest to craft. We all experience external conflicts and they all grown in the same garden. We have spats with lovers, unrequited love, fights with neighbors/bosses/police, etc. Such conflicts are relatively easy to create and fictionalize because they are well understood and need only interesting tweaks and appropriate tension to make them real.

Internal conflicts are tricky, and this is the downfall of introspective writers, who are a notoriously conflicted bunch. What tortures one man internally may be completely foreign to everyone else on the planet. The more obscure the conflict, the more it needs to be explained and illustrated, and the more weary the process becomes on the reader. So if you have an internal conflict from your childhood that you are aching to put to paper, think about your audience and ask if they give a damn. If they don’t, and you cannot in a couple of pages make them give a damn, then drop it as a viable conflict.

There is a way around even this problem, though you better be a skilled writer before attempting such. If the conflict is central to the character and is obscure, then unravel the conflict over the course of the entire plot. Make the conflict real by exposing the nuances through many chapters. This makes the conflict understandable to the reader, because they are experiencing the complexities through the “reality” of your character. The reader is in a sense becoming the character through a shared experience.

Needless to say this is not easy, and requires considerable thought in the plot outlining (and if you are writing fiction without outlining, you may well be doomed from the start). But don’t let that scare you. After all, Fitzgerald didn’t seem to have much of an outline and he did the same to Gatsby.

8/22/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger woostershire said...

Wretchard, don't forget your good sunglasses.

8/23/2007 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger PiltdownMan said...


I think it's just that you're missing some quotes in your article ("). It does seem to imply that *you*, dear Mr. The Cat, will be visiting Mesopotamia.

8/23/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ticker said...


Thanks for the reproof. I've corrected the text and I hope it is clear now.

8/23/2007 09:24:00 PM  

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