This statue-angel-thingy sits on my desk displaying one of my mottos: Embrace Change. Frankly if I hadn’t, and didn’t, and wouldn’t, I’d be up the proverbial tree and creek.
But in my writing world of women’s fiction (no heroes, no zombies, no high heels) the opposite must be true. Your main character (mc), and perhaps your secondary characters as well, cannot embrace change. At least not at first. Conflict must arise to thwart the mc’s desire for change, if there is that desire at all. Conflict must arise externally to set the mc off her path to change and better yet, to a new less desirable path. Nothing is more satisfying when reading than to see a character change, come back around, complete a journey, end up somewhere different from where she started.
So how do we differentiate between human nature of not wanting all the tension and the conflict and the upheaval, because in real life, that sucks—to adding it to our novels so that our characters can deal with it and move forward, possibly toward more of the same before finding a resolution? How about when you’re just tired of having your mc’s efforts thwarted by her nemesis or oftentimes, by herself?
For me, the best thing to remember is the harder my mc falls, the bigger the reward when she gets up again and again. Not to overdramatize, how do you feel about the people you know for whom everything comes easy, or at least seems to come easy? You might be envious, perhaps…but really…unless the easy stuff comes after a long road of hardships, it is BORING. Chances are their story is not interesting.
You want to write an interesting story, right? Insert conflict, road blocks, problems, questions. Inflict a little angst. Raise the stakes for character and the reader becomes more invested in her outcome. Make her the underdog in her own story. Her own worst enemy perhaps.
But don’t feel like you’re not giving your main characters their fair shake, just make them work for it. Because everything is better if it’s worked for (unless I’d have won that MegaMillions, then I wouldn’t have written that. But I digress into lottery-fantasy…)
If you are into HEA (happily ever after) make it count. Would Cinderella and Prince Charming getting married have been half of an exciting conclusion to that story if the Wicked Stepmother and Ugly Stepsisters and the Ticking Clock and the Lost Glass Slipper hadn’t gotten in their way?
You bet your cute little singing and sewing mice, it would not have.
Think about your satisfying conclusions, your wrap-ups, and even your HEA in a way that allows you to make your mc and her cast of characters earn the right to take a deep breath and step away from the conflict and conclusion at the end of the story.
At least until the sequel.
How do you make sure you add enough conflict into your writing?
4 Replies to “Deb Amy Channels Cinderella And Embraces Conflict In Women’s Fiction”
Love this post. Conflict is key; even if, in real life, we hate it (or, as you aptly say, “it sucks”). SO TRUE: Nothing is more satisfying when reading than to see a character change, come back around, complete a journey, end up somewhere different from where she started. No one wants to read a “life is good” book from the start; sure – the mc can come to that conclusion, but only after she’s been through the wringer.
You have a MegaMillions fantasy too? Sigh.
As for conflict, I love the Cinderella example. Even with a HEA, you need tons of hurdles to make that ending satisfying!
Such a great post. It’s so true that stories without conflict are boring. We all want to live peaceful lives, but at the end of the day it’s the struggle that makes the achievement so worthwhile – I hadn’t even thought about it that way, but it’s so true!
I agree with you and the others. Conflict is necessary for progress, unfortunately, on any level–emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. How I am sure to include conflict on my pages is to ask myself a series of questions after a scene is “finished”. What is my protag’s goal here? What’s the point of this scene? Does it reveal anything new to the reader that they didn’t know before? What is the conflict? If I can’t answer these questions, I rework it don’t move forward until it’s resolved. Great post, Deb Amy. 🙂
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