12 Days of Writing Tips: Day Five–Conflict 


Yesterday, I went to the store. Then, I went to work. I got home as usual, ate dinner, and went to bed. 

Are you bored yet? 

I am. And there’s a reason for that. 

It’s called conflict. Or rather, a serious lack thereof. 

Think about it; when you tell someone a story about your day, you don’t tell them the mundane stuff. You tell them about the lady wearing superman Underoos on her head and yelling at passing cars who threw a half empty Coke can at you on your way to that important meeting you were headed to. 

Stories are about conflict. We tell people who was involved, what happened that messed with our plans, what came next, how we overcame it, and perhaps most importantly, how it made us feel. When someone tells you they’re fine and life is dandy, you often wait for the next bit–the bit that will make what they’ve said interesting in some way. (Sometimes, it never comes.) 

So ask yourself; what conflict are your characters facing? What external battle are they up against that pushes their internal conflicts higher? Have you included the mundane as a way to fill pages, without returning to the conflict your character is dealing with? Don’t lose sight of the obstacles; that’s often when you get the dreaded ‘saggy middle’. (This is when nothing is really happening to push your story forward, you’re just killing time.) 

Challenge: can you detail the overall conflict of your story, as well as the internal conflict of your characters? How clearly do you keep it in sight all the way through your novel?

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