Lecture Response: 3

Prompt: 1) Write three strategies from the lecture that you can use.

Three type of conflicts:
1) Man vs. Man
2) Man vs. Himself
3) Man vs. Society

Three ways to create tension:
1) Use the setting to create a mood/atmosphere for the scene.
2) Use strategic dialogue to create tension--what's being said is just as important as what's NOT being said.
3) Break character role archetypes--your antagonist can't be completely evil and kick puppies for the sake of kicking puppies.

2) Put two characters together in a scene. Establish a clear protagonist. Make him/her want something and have the other person stop him/her from getting it... or at least complicate the issue. ----------

“Something the matter, Jayden?” Rylie asked when he reached his office.

Jayden was surprised to hear her voice so suddenly, because he couldn’t recall his short trip down the hallway, or entering her office. It loosened his jaw from its previous tension, and made him aware of how his hand ached from how tightly he held his briefcase. His surprise, however, was short-lived and quickly replaced with indignity from her cool indifference; as if he was some student instead of her long-time friend and past lover. It was the same way she’d addressed him when he’d first returned to Equitas after the nearly-failed mission to Orion.

“Aside from surviving a near-death experience, I’m just peachy,” Jayden growled, dropping his briefcase without preamble. “How are you?”

“That much is obvious,” Rylie sighed. “Maybe you should have taken that personal leave Director Foxx offered you.”

“So you can continue to waste my students’ time? Not likely,” he retorted. “I don’t need a fool instructor like you to squandering what little time they have left to train.”

“If you only came here to insult me, you can just leave, Jayden,” Rylie snapped. She stood from her seat and slammed her hands on her desk. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Me?” Jayden asked. “You want to know what the hell is wrong with me? Why, Rylie! That’s the kindest thing you’ve said to me since I’ve gotten back!”

She was stunned into silence. She opened her mouth to offer some sort of retort, but seemed unable to speak despite her efforts. Glaring at Jayden with a mixture of hurt and anger, tears welled in her eyes. “How could you say something like that to me?” she demanded.

“Because it’s true,” Jayden answered quietly. “You’ve barely spared me a second glance since I’ve returned. Do you have any idea what the hell happened out there? The least you could do is look a little happy to see me. Like, I don’t know, maybe you were worried or something.”

“I was worried!” she shouted. “I was scared shitless you’d been killed out there! Why do you think I took personal leave the moment Director Foxx said you’d gone missing?!”

“And what a warm welcome you gave me when I finally did come back!” Jayden replied.

“I thought you were dead.” Her face was flushed, and tears streaked her cheeks, but it had little effect on him. “How did you expect me to react?! I’d already started to accept the fact that you were gone, and all the regret and all the sadness and emptiness that went along with it. I struggled to teach your students stuff I can hardly articulate, withstood their ridicule and everywhere I look, I’m reminded of you. And then suddenly, you’re back! And instead of taking time off, you plunge right back into work, as if nothing happened. All business, like you always are and always have been. Meanwhile, I had been beside myself with grief over the idea of having lost you! Do you have any idea what that did to me?!”

“Oh, don’t you dare try to make this my fault, Rylie,” Jayden said. He could feel fresh blood seep between the stitching and dampen the bandage taped to his face, but he didn’t care. “People died out there, Rylie. They died right in front of me. I heard them scream and watched them suffer. The only reason I managed to keep going was because I was trying to come home to you. Don’t you get it?! You are the only reason I had to keep going. And when I finally do get home, you completely ignore me, practically belittling the horrors I’d seen.” His voice rose with every word he spoke until his voice began to go hoarse. “You know, I thought I would at least get the loyalty and compassion of a friend, but it seems you can’t even do that.”

“You have my compassion and my loyalty, Jayden,” Rylie argued. “You have that and so much more.” Her shoulders shook with each miserable sob as she collapsed into her chair and covered her face with her hand in an attempt to quiet herself.

The only sounds in the room were Rylie’s hiccupping sobs and the hammering of Jayden’s heart in his chest. He was angry, and he didn’t particularly enjoy seeing her cry, but he couldn’t bring himself to offer her any sympathy and understanding. He wouldn’t let her tears sway him, as they had so many times in the past. “You have a funny way of showing it,” he said.

“When the Director said that Orion had been attacked and that you hadn’t been found, my heart shattered in my chest,” she said, still crying. “I’d never known such pain in my life. I was devastated. You can’t expect me to just bounce back from that as if none of it mattered. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t dead, because here at Equitas, it was believed that you were. That sort of pain doesn’t just go away.”

“And you couldn’t put your own feelings aside for five fucking minutes to see how I was doing? You know, the one that actually almost died?” He shook his head and gave a disgusted sigh. “Rylie—”

“What do you want me to do, Jayden?!” she yelled suddenly, interrupting him. “How do you want me to fix this?!”

“A hug and an ‘I missed you, Jayden. I’m so happy you’re home,’ would be nice,” he said only half sarcastically. “Maybe knowing that you were worried, and that you’re glad I’m back. Maybe knowing that the reason I forced myself to keep going wasn’t a farce.” What he wouldn’t give to have her truly return his feelings… Even if her romantic interest in him never returned, to know she at least loved him as friend, loved him in a way that his years of undying devotion warranted would have soothed the ache in his chest.

Before he could react, Rylie circled the desk and threw herself into his arms, clinging to him and sobbing into his chest. More than a little dazed by the sudden and uncharacteristic display, Jayden was slow to embrace her. As he felt her tears soak through his shirt, he found that if his anger were the source of her pain, it quickly dissipated. He felt hollow and cold as he held her, the warmth that normally filled his heart with her presence somehow absent and replaced with bitterness.

“I missed you so much, Jayden,” Rylie whispered between hiccups. “I’m so grateful you’re home.”

It was empty.

There was no warmth, no love, nothing at all but a desire to quell his anger. The realization hit him with the force of a truck, and forced his heart into an unpleasant meeting with his stomach as it bottomed out. It was wrong, so very wrong. He shouldn’t have to tell her what to say, and he shouldn’t have to scream at her to get her to respond. If any of it were real, it would have been natural, unprovoked and…right.

When Jayden forced himself from Rylie’s grip, it was easier than he anticipated it to be. His expression was blank as he met Rylie’s gaze that glittered with tears. “I want a full report of everything you covered with my students during my absence on my desk by tomorrow morning,” he said softly, defeat thick in his voice. His hope was crumbling, crushing his heart beneath the collapse. “I’ll be informing Director Foxx of my request; you’ll have to answer to him if you decide not oblige me.”