Finding the perfect conflict. Now, that is a challenge. I usually write the first three chapters of my story, then go back and start figuring out what’s going on. That may sound weird, but it’s how I work. I know my characters, I know my ending, and I know the “Why” question regarding my novel. Or the “What if” question. But a good story isn’t going to interest the reader without obstacles, or conflict in the journey.
Which if we think about it is kind of weird as in we don’t like conflict in real life. Right? But the conflict in stories carries the plot and emotional journey of the characters we’ve created. Without conflict, well, there wouldn’t be much of a story.
In judging unpublished writing contest over the years I’ve seen what some writers think is conflict, but it’s not. One of the rules I’ve heard is “if it can be resolved with a conversation, it’s not true conflict.” I agree with that. There has to be an emotional challenge in the conflict. And as I read more and more books, the way the external and internal conflicts co-exist, makes for interesting and exciting reads.
In working on my current novel, I discovered my conflict isn’t deep enough. I don’t think it is a good foundation that will carry a whole novel. I’ve been thinking and running other scenarios and characters in my head to create more conflict. I actually think this is one of the best parts of being a writer. Creating the world that the reader will dive into is an art in itself. :)
In the book that I just finished writing and submitting, the conflict comes full circle and resolves at the end, internally and externally. The total way it happened unfolded as I wrote the story, but the basis of it I had in my mind. It was fun seeing how everything came together as the words went onto the page. The level of conflict I’m talking about here is in sweet romance stories. When you start talking suspense stories, that’s a whole other level.
So, what about you? Which conflict do you like better? Do you like the edge of your seat suspenseful type of conflict, or the more internal, emotional conflict? I’d love to hear your preferences, and if you have a recent or well-loved story that you loved the conflict in, let us know.