In real life, I don’t like conflict. I don’t like arguing with people, I don’t like fighting and I don’t like confrontation. In fact, I actively avoid it.
To create conflict in my stories, I have to hurt my character’s feelings, I have to put them in difficult situations, in physical and emotional danger. I have to be mean to them … I have to do all these things to make readers care about them.
So if conflict doesn’t come naturally to you, how do you put your characters in a conflict situation?
When I was doing my Professional Writing and Editing Diploma at Victoria University, author and teacher extraordinaire, Sherryl Clark said to us, “Think of the worst thing that can happen to your character, and make something even worse happen to them.”
And that’s exactly how you get to the depth of your character and who they are. How your character handles conflict affects what happens next in your story, and how readers relate to them.
So if you want conflict in your story, you need to know your characters, what they are fighting for, and who they are fighting against.
To create conflict, one character’s views and goals must collide with another character’s.
There are two kinds of conflict – external and internal – and you need them both in your story.
External conflict is what happens outside your character and internal conflict is the struggle that goes on inside them.
External conflict is what makes your story exciting. It’s where the action in your story comes from. It’s the obstacles and events your character must overcome.
Internal conflict is what enables the reader to feel like they know your character. Internal conflict is what makes the reader care about your character and what happens to them. It’s what makes the reader invest emotionally in your story.
Internal conflict can be the disparity between what a character thinks they want and what they really want. It can be caused by your character having to choose what’s right and wrong.
In forthcoming posts I’ll be blogging more about conflict.
I’ll also be presenting a workshop in Brisbane at the CYA Conference on 2nd July where I’ll be providing some practical tips on how to put your characters into conflict. Bookings for the conference can be made through the CYA website.
Look forward to seeing you there.
If you can’t make it, I look forward to seeing you back here at DeeScribe Writing.
Do you struggle being mean to your characters or are you one of those people who loves putting their characters in difficult situations? Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments section of this post.
Happy writing 🙂