Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Conflict

I have seen a lot of stories lately that have been really weak in this one critical area of the story. Namely, the conflict that is holding the hero and heroine back is so weak, I simply quit reading the book. As a writer, it is up to you to weave the idea of conflict into the story so that we see a believable issue to be dealt with, and one that the hero and heroine will have to really work at solving.

What have I been seeing? Simply conflicts that can be fixed too easily. The writer has somehow created an issue that is really a stumbling block and that is it. Think of it this way. If the solution can be fixed with one of the two characters simply doing something simple, this is far from a conflict.

For example... a company has two positions open for the board of directors. The hero and heroine both want a slot and they spend the whole time competing against each other with this belief that there can be only one. Hmmm? Is this really an issue? I doubt it.

Let me know of some of the issues you have seen in stories lately that can be fixed that easily.



  1. How about the concept of ‘the old’ misunderstanding? Drives me nuts! Oh, not that I don’t think that such a thing can occur, yes, of course these things happen. So, it’s not this that bothers me, it’s the ‘how and why’ in a story that makes or breaks the concept for me. And I’ve been seeing it a lot lately - breaking all over the freaking place! The worst? The hero resents having to marry the heroine because he chooses to believe what an acquaintance has said about something she has done in her past. I don’t know about you, but if someone I was entering any kind of a relationship with had something in their past that I was uncomfortable with I’d probably say: “Hey, what was up with that?’ or something. The book I just finished reading had a rumor(from and unreliable source) keeping the hero and heroine apart for 237 pages and on page 238 in one paragraph, this huge problem is resolved when the hero takes advantage of her and discovers that she is ‘pure’ and now he can accept having to marry her. Wow, I was glad that the matter of her ‘virginity’ was proof enough to clear the whole mess up so, that he could marry her for her money and save his family.;D

    And, don’t get me wrong, I love a well written, commonsense approach to a misunderstanding - anyone remember the WOLF AND THE DOVE? It’s just when an issue is created and applied in such an unbelievable fashion, I kind of squirm. I guess, while it might be true that the story your reading/writing is fiction, it doesn’t mean the character’s reality should be fiction, too.

  2. I just read a story that had the heroine, who was from a rich family, refuse to accept money from her father because she wanted to make it on her own and until she 'made' it she wasn't going have a man in her life. But Mr. right shows up and she sticks to her decision to remain single and any of that would really happen. I was wondering why she didn't just ask dad or the bank for a loan if she was so sure that her dessert business was going to take off.:)

  3. How can the misunderstandings be easily fixed? If I read what you are saying correctly the whole purpose of the heroines past is the story or did I get this wrong? personally I love it when there is a 'finding out' that has to happen in a story. That's just me. Hitting dad up for a loan? Why doesn't she just ask the government to bail her out. ha! More rejections and back to the drawing board on my MS. somone will buy it I just haven't found the right person yet.

  4. Anon, Amon, Anon, you need to cheer up. As for the misunderstanding I was referring to - and your wondering how this could be easily fixed? Um, the brilliant hero could have simply asked the heroine about the situation directly? But in this case, I believe the inference was that - had he done that and she told him the truth he wouldn't have believed her anyways because, you know, that acquaintance and unreliable source guy (who you met briefly at the beginning of the story) was ah, probably more trust worthy than the heroine who always told the truth and was not given to exaggerate about anything, right? UGH!
    I don’t know who I was more disappointed in. The hero, who obviously had poor judgement and instincts - or the heroine who, by accepting the hero in the end, proved that she out did him in this department...wait, maybe I do know who I’m more disappointed in. Me! For picking such a crappy book and paying almost eight bucks for it...Man, I hate when that happens.

  5. Scott: Good post. It helps to think about such things.
    Murphy, as usual! LOL
    Em, I think I read that one;).