By: Eileen Cook
Conflict. Can never get too little of it in real life. Can never get enough of it in a novel. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult for some of us to write strong conflict into our stories. Fortunately, multi-published Eileen Cook joins us today to share some insight on how to intensify the conflict for our poor characters. She is also celebrating the upcoming release of her newest book, WITH MALICE. Check it out at the end of the post!
Tips for Increasing Conflict, a Craft of Writing Post by Eileen Cook
In real life we might avoid conflict, but as readers we seek it out. We want to see characters in difficult situations, because trying to figure out how they will get themselves out is what keeps us turning pages. Common feedback we get as writers from editors and agents is that a story is missing enough conflict. No conflict = no story.
At the most basic level conflict is what gets in the way of your characters getting what they want. They may want love, to find a magical ring, to beat the vampire king, to solve a murder, or climb a mountain. If they can obtain that goal with no challenges then you have a very short story. A boring one. There are two types of conflict: Internal and External. Let’s explore how to increase both of these.
External Conflict is what is in the way of your character in the outside world. This may be a villain, a monster, or even a close friend who also happens to want the same goal. Here are some prompts to help you look for places in your manuscript to make the conflict even higher.
• Conflict Location/Time: Try and have the conflict happen in the most uncomfortable place and time possible for your characters: in the middle of a school hallway, at work, or in the middle of their solo at the band concert. If your character is about to discover that their boyfriend is cheating on them, when is the worst time for them to get that news? Where is the worst place? Who is the worst person to tell them?
• Let the conflict build:
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