Posts Tagged ‘story conflict’

How We Write: Central Conflict

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Without conflict, your story has no forward momentum. Your characters have no motivation to act. There’s no goal they can’t achieve. So, in commercial fiction at least, there’s no reader engagement, no matter how well what you’ve written is, well, written. For lack of a better analogy, you need combustion that will lead the reader to expect some future explosion that’ll keep them on the hook through the rest of the wonderful things you plan to do.


And I’m not just talking about suspense plots.In addition to writing (and now editing) romantic suspense as well as crafting sci-fi/fantasies that are full-on thrillers, I also write home and family dramas (straight contemporary romance) where the same level of escalating conflict and tension must still exist, in order¬†for the reader to care enough to turn the page.

Conflict is how readers identify with your characters. It’s how the story transports the reader through a purely fictional journey. How deeply do the dilemmas you put the protagonist through resonate? How carefully do you craft the internal motivation and goals and tension the character must resolve, and are there¬†external factors (anchors and stumbling blocks) that drive that person to do and behave and learn and grow and fail and, ultimately, succeed?

Conflict IS NOT petty arguments and bickering between the leads. (more…)