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Monday, November 28, 2011

What do you need?


Two weeks ago I hit a snag in my NaNo WIP. I didn’t have enough conflict—and when I mean conflict I don’t mean fighting. I mean the kind of conflict that makes your stomach churn as you read.

The problem was that my MC had two needs that ran parallel throughout the story, and it was getting boring. So I got to thinking…what can I do to crank up the conflict?

Then…epiphany!

Take my MC's two needs and make them in direct conflict to each other.  Make him choose between two things he wants—but he can’t have both. The physical and emotional toll these kinds of conflict have on our MC’s can be visceral.

My one warning with this type of conflict is that you MUST follow through. If you force your MC to make a choice only to suspend the consequences of that choice than you become a liar, and readers will start to see your conflict as false. I think everyone has read a book or seen a movie and you don’t believe for one second that the MC will really have to make a choice.

So if your MS is a little flat, try giving your MC competing needs. It can really spice up a dull story.

-Angie


Pop on over to Afterglow Book Reviews and check out my review of The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry :)

20 comments:

Brinda said...

That's a terrific idea. I love giving the MC some inner turmoil.

Freya Morris said...

Great tip Angie - makes me want to know what conflict you set up now. Good luck with the rest of the NaNo.

Meredith said...

Oooh, competing needs sounds like such a good idea! Great advice.

Abby Fowers said...

Great advice Angie. The further I get into my WIP, the more I realize how important this is and how HARD it can be to keep things interesting and conflicted. You always have the best advice on here. I love it. :)

julie fedderson said...

Mmmm, I love those kind of stories. Congrats on your epiphany.

E.R. King said...

Conflicting desires is a good way to add spice to your book. Good idea, Angie!

Ruth Josse said...

Ah Angie, you're always making me think. Another great piece of advice in which I'm left wondering
about my wip. Which is a good thing. ;)

Cassie Mae said...

Follow through! Yes! No cop outs. Life is so not that way, so even if you're writing fiction, it needs to be realistic. :)

i'm erin. said...

The funny thing is this concept is so simple and yet I always forget. I need to go back and re-work some of my MC's needs.

Jolene Perry said...

I've just started a series, and I keep getting these mini-epiphany's - and they're going to be TORTUROUS, but there will be tension . . .

Sara Bulla said...

Great Post! I hope things are falling into place now! And where, pray tell, do you find such deluxe pictures for your post. I admit, I'm a bit jealous!

Jenny S. Morris said...

Oh, I love it. And sometimes it is hard to follow through. But, I do hate when I'm reading something and I know that the author would never do it. Good luck on the NaNoing!

Jessie Humphries said...

I totally know what you mean...and I can't stand it. I need to see and feel the consequences now, not later.

Melissa Sarno said...

Great tip Angie. Glad you were able to get through that snag by being so smart! :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

I got chills as I read this! I LOVE when a story pits the wants in direct opposition! It's very tricky to pull off, indeed.

Tara Tyler said...

vedy interesting, dahling!

i have been accused of treating my mc cruelly bcuz of what he has been thru, but it makes him see life differently...life is messy w/conflict & choices!

Kim said...

You always have such good writing advice...
And, I have to say, in regards to your last post, you really are super woman! I can't imagine surviving a year sans husband. So glad he is home :)

Nick Wilford said...

It's a great tip, but quite hard to pull off without seeming cliched I think, at least for me. In my first book, my MC had to choose between his family and career, which sounds cheesy as I write it! I was trying to write an all-out thriller and don't think it worked. In my current WIP, I'm trying to make the conflict more subtle but still exciting, if that makes sense.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Great advice, Angie. I especially liked the bit about actually following through and forcing the choice.

Good luck with NaNo - keep going! :)

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

OMGOSH Angie this is brilliant. My conflict is waning and I'll need to re-evaluate it as I write my 2nd draft, so this is gravy-kind-of stuff, right here! Thanks :)

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