Conflict with Conflicts

I think that at some point in a writer’s journey they discover something important about their writing style that is pivotal to the quality of their work.

For example, I for one discovered that I don’t like to create conflict in my novels. Which is bad, because a novel literally lives on conflict. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to see my characters under stress or if it’s that I forget all together.

Either way it’s a problem I’ve had to overcome, which brings me to you today for some quick tips on:

  1. How to generate conflict
  2. How to develop the conflict
  3. How to solve/wrap up the conflict

So let’s start out by breaking this down. Your entire novel/story follows a plot line which is basically one big conflict. This may fall into the category, Person Vs Person, Person Vs Self, or Person Vs Nature and so on. But sadly there can’t be just one major conflict in your work.

You need to create smaller scale conflicts that will carry you through to the end of your novel. Your reader should never feel bored or just be skim reading to the next major scene.

  • Honestly, generating conflict is the easy part. Let’s take a look at a basic story that follows these lines:
    • Timmy has a dog named Spot. Spot got loose last night, and now Timmy needs to find him.
    • You’ve already got your major conflict. But the story wouldn’t be interesting or fulfilling if all it was, was Timmy walking around the neighborhood yelling “Spot” until he found his dog. This is where the smaller scale conflict arises. Let’s say Timmy has just gotten out of the house when he realizes that his shoe is untied or he forgot his house key and is locked out. Both of those scenarios would work. But, solving those conflicts immediately wouldn’t do your story that much good.
  • Developing the conflict is the crucial next step of writing. Instead of Timmy reaching down and tying his shoe, thus eliminating the conflict, he decides to ignore the flapping laces. A few scenes later, Timmy trips on his laces and falls. He scrapes his knee. Do you see how the untied shoe laces just led into a completely different scene after you planted it, waited, and then called upon it for more writing conflict? If you understand this portion, it will be so much more easy to conquer conflicts.
  • Lastly, we do need to solve the lingering conflict before we solve your main plot story. So, Timmy is bleeding, probably sad and scared, and he doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, the friendly mailman drives by, stops and bandages Timmy’s knee and drives him around the neighborhood until they find Spot. It’s 100% okay to wrap up several conflicts at once, and I know that as a reader it brings me the most relief.

 

So after reading this I hope you are ready to get out your writing and conquer those conflicts. I know that writing can be a pain sometimes, but finding tips and tricks to help you makes it much more enjoyable and easier.

 

Happy Writing!

-Kate

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