Friday, July 13, 2007

My Writing Process - Part Two

My critique partner just said something in an email that sparked the idea behind this post.


That is an essential element to any book I write and anything I like to read. I start with a basic idea of conflict and then ask myself:

What could complicate this?

What could stop the positive outcome?

What could distract my heroine from her mission?

What could cause my heroine to lose her purpose?

What internal conflicts existed in her before she faced this external conflict? Do they need to be resovled before she can be victorious?

I love to layer the internal and external conflict to the point where the reader can't see how my heroine could possibly triumph (and often I can't either until I get there...usually at 3 am). If a reader can accurately predict the ending to the story and the road I'll take the get there, what would be the point of reading?

All good stories have strong conflict, vivid characters, a clear setting, and a central theme or two to tie it all together.

This is how I approach conflict. Right now I have Alexa in a situation where her incredible hunting skills won't save her because what she hunts isn't human. She needs the help of a warrior who can teach her to track with her other senses but she won't pay the price he wants for the help he offers. She has two Alpha males living under her roof, ostensibly to protect her, though she feels anything but safe. Her interferring neighbor has joined forces with her best friend to marry her off and the one man she wants, she doesn't think she can have, especially when he realizes what she is truly capable of doing. Finally, she is convinced that to stop her enemy, she'll have to kill him and though she's willing to kill to protect those she loves, she isn't sure she can live with herself afterward.


  1. One of the things I love about conflict in books is where the defining moments are physically painful for me to read.

    Nora Roberts does that to me a lot. When everything comes to a point and I can't stop reading but I'm actually rubbing my chest because it just hurts to see what the characters are going through.

    Or alternately where I shout for joy when something awesome happens.

    I think I do something similar to what you just laid out CJ, though I don't know I've ever been that formal about it. :D Usually I just like throwing crap at my characters and see how they react to it.

    Which might explain why things get scattered at times. *laughs*


  2. Honestly, until I wrote it out in that post, I didn't realize everything I was doing. I don't do it formally either, but I do it.

    I just throw smaller conflicts into the larger one and as I get to know my character, I explore her internal conflicts (because what fun is a character who has it all together?) and then I throw in a few more curve balls and watch the whole thing explode.

    But when I stopped to think it through, those are the questions I'm answering and that's how I layer in my conflict.

  3. Conflict! So that's what my novel is missing...

  4. lol mayberry!

    I've read a few books that were missing definite conflict. Okay, I didn't actually READ them because after a chapter or two of aimless prose, I chucked it into the Good Will bag.

    I need to know the stakes and they have to be high.


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