Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CONFLICT - Sustaining and Working it Through

Unsustainable conflicts - conflicts that don't go deep enough, that are based on one small disagreement or that aren't important enough emotionally will run out of steam, leaving you struggling. You will have the dreaded 'sagging middle' or, worse, will run out of story before the book is finished so the novel stops dead, never to be revived.

The answer is to not introduce more conflicts, different conflicts, conflicts from different sources - these will complicate the story, muddling the emotional impact rather than add tension. You need to add complications to the original conflict

You need to make sure that you start your book with a STRONG major conflict

How do you do that?

- if you can’t finish the synopsis, it could be a sign that your conflicts are weak
- think through the story again until logic says it will hold together
- write a synopsis based on the internal conflict alone. Write a synopsis, then peel it right back to just the emotional tensions and the emotional turning points. When you strip the story down to just the conflict, it is much easier to see where the holes are.

- know their strengths, weaknesses and their goals
- Tailor your conflicts to their personalities.
- Constantly ask yourself - or your characters
- what are you feeling right now?
- Why?
- What does his/her behaviour strike off inside you?
- Why?
-Why do you react so strongly to this?


You need to keep the conflict at the forefront of your characters' - and so your readers' thoughts at all times. Even when they are doing something else, it should be preying on their minds.

1. Keep them together – close proximity gives the characters the opportunity to externalise their internal emotional conflicts.

2. Let conflict complicate your plot – basing key decisions on characters’ emotions and not just on logic.

3. Take two steps forward and one step back
- Follow success with a reversal
- Play the scene from another angle
– H believes he’s making progress – show how the heroine has interpreted it differently
- The closer they get the more they WANT to stay close. The more they taste intimacy and love the worse this step back feels

4. Don’t have a conflict that can be solved with one simple explanation.

5. Sexual tension deepens the conflict- Sexual longing never wanes when a couple is meant to be together- Sexual tension heightens the tension between the to in one way- Sexual fulfilment without emotional fulfilment deepens the problem. Emotional issues separate them

6 Being intimate physically while not being intimate emotionally opens a whole new set of problems. Your characters may think that by 'getting it over with'/'scratching an itch'/not fighting it will mean getting the problem out of the way. In fact it is far more likely to add to and complicate the situation.

7. Create emotional tension by holding off on the words 'I love you'.
WHo is holding off on saying this?
What is the effect on the other character? Why?

Always WHY?

(c) Kate Walker


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Kate! I've just started writing again-after taking a break because of family stuff and a bit of a crisis of confidence--and, as always, your advice is invaluable. No wonder your blog was my first port of call :) Copying and pasting it into the wip now :)
Sue Child

Lorraine said...

Thanks Kate, even though I attended your workshop I like to constantly drum the conflict lessons into my brain, any reminders are good :-)

For any lurking blog readers wanting to hear more about Kate and the projects she's currently working on pop over to http://minxesofromance.blogspot.com/ where it's her turn for the author spotlight.


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