Monday, March 6, 2017

Is Your Conflict Too Much Or Not Enough?

The conflict in the story is really the driving force of the plot. It is what the readers see as a major obstacle to get to those final pages and the true resolution of the story. This is also one of those points that writers often screw up the most. Either the writers have created a conflict that is nearly impossible to resolve without the help of divine intervention, or there is simply no conflict in the story. Today, we want to spend a few minutes talking about each of these problems, as well as finding that happy medium.

When it comes to romance, there are often two conflicts that are going on in the story. One is the conflict that is between the characters that stands in the way of getting to that happily ever after. The other conflict is often plot based and is the external conflict. In all of these situations, the conflict really stems from the characters' goals and motivations.

One of the first problems writers have when it comes to conflict is making the situation impossible to overcome. This generally comes about from the author believing he or she has to "add more to the story." This also comes from critique partners who keep asking what is driving the character so the author starts adding in a ton of backstory. The end result is a conflict that is simply too hard to overcome. To solve the conflict will require coming up with scenarios where too many things have to be in place just to get through it. In many ways, it starts to sound like the situations in the NFL playoffs: "Team X can get in if they score 10 more points than the opposition, and if Team Y Loses but Team Z wins..."

To get out of these situations, writers will often come up with a plot twist that becomes completely unbelievable for the reader. Money is often one of those solutions. For example, the heroine is about ready to lose the entire property their family has lived on, they are also going to end up homeless and her son, who is deathly ill will likely die without that home... but fortunately, there is a random uncle who is a billionaire who stumbles into town and dies, leaving the entire sum of money to her. Really? We have just worked through the entire story and this surprise fixes it? Not good.

Now, the other side of the story is one where there is little or no conflict. The hero and heroine completely love each other but the only thing standing in the way is that neither wants to commit. There is nothing to stop them, no business venture? All they have to do is say "I do."

So, to find that happy medium is work from the second scenario. Start with nothing in the way of the characters. Then stop and ask what that one thing is that will get in the way of the characters achieving their goals? It doesn't need to be major, but it has to be something they will have to work to achieve. Put it just far enough out of their reach, but certainly believable.

It really is that simple.

So, tell me how you get through the conflict situations in your stories?

1 comment:

  1. Love your advice! You are so right. I've seen some amazingly complicated plot twists!