Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Drama, drama, drama

Our topic this week is conflict, as you can probably tell =)

I think I might be the opposite of Erynn. While she loves to avoid conflict, I love to indulge in it. But ONLY in my writing. In real life, personally, I'm the one dodging the topic to avoid a fight. I'll happily sit with an elephant in the room between me and said conflicting person and be just fine. Conflict makes me hurt. And while in marriage, I do believe that most things are better off being discussed and dealt with, sometimes, there really is something to say for letting things just blow over. Some conflicts get to the point where there truly is no compromise, no way to gloss over or fix things or talk it out - and in those times, its best to just remember you love the other person and let it go. Change the subject. Move on until the dangerous emotions reside. Then talk it out or reach a solution later when feelings aren't like a tidal wave. You could save a lot of hurt this way.

But this isn't a marriage counseling post. lol I digress.

Back to writing.

I think maybe the reason I enjoy writing conflict is because I don't like real life conflict. Its a safe way to vent in my stories, and to let my characters say the things I've always wanted to but never had the nerve to. (which is probably for the best. lol) So for me, its sort of fun!

Do you enjoy writing conflict? Do you struggle with it? Or is the easiest part of writing to you?

There's so many varieties of conflict in writing. You have inner conflict within the character, which I really like to write. This is like a character feeling extreme guilt for something in the past, or struggling to keep a secret, or having feelings for someone but trying to deny them, etc. This is deep, layering stuff. The real grit of who the character is.

Then you have outer conflicts between characters, like arguing or disagreeing on a matter. This can be shown verbally through yelling or physically in an actual fight. Or could be shown through mean looks, sarcastic comments, etc. It could be blatant or subtle.

And you also have situational conflict - and there's probably a better term for that but I'm writing this post while my daughter destroys a muffin in the chair next to me, and need to hurry. lol Situational conflict, as I call it, is when the characters aren't necessarily in conflict with each other but with their circumstances. Maybe a storm is on the way and they're in danger. Maybe a bad guy is out to get them. Maybe they have a certain amount of time in which to raise money before their favorite shop or charity closes. You get the idea.

I do want to give a warning, because I've seen this done in books before and it makes me SO upset. Erynn mentioned this too - staying true to character. I want to expound on it, because its so important to keep the realistic factor in your story. If your character is a shy, meek, humble, conservative chick, more than likely, she is not going to randomly spout off and yell and fight. That's not who she is. That's not to say, however, that she can't grow as a character throughout the story and have a liberating moment of finally getting to say what she always wanted to say. But you have to show that character arch (growth) throughout the book until that moment in the story. Otherwise its contrived. Does that make sense?

And vice versa. If your heroine is honest to a fault, loud, abrasive, open, blunt, etc. then it would be very unlikely that she would hold her tongue 24/7 around her family and friends and coworkers and be the perfect angel verbally.

You can make opposites work for your character but it has to be done in their growth through the story. Not in Chapter 4!

Okay, now to vacuum up the muffin...


  1. I've loved reading this week's posts about conflict. They were all so helpful! I haven't had a chance to comment until now, though :)

    In real life, I usually try to avoid conflict, but in fiction, I secretly love writing it sometimes. I think it's for the same reason you mentioned... finally saying what I've always longed to say through my characters. LOL.

    Thanks for the reminder about staying true to the character. I think I need to add more conflict for my main character, because she's outspoken, sarcastic, and blunt. If something bothered her, she would say or do something about it, not stay quiet. One more thing to add to my list of 'things that need to be fixed' ;)

  2. Betsy, this is great! :) I love how both you and Arianna use your characters to vent! :)

    Arianna, that list of things that need to be fixed never ends for me - sometimes it's best to just put in the drawer and keep hacking away at the story until you finish the book! Once I know the book has been written, I'm not as overwhelmed at fixing time. :)

  3. I agree with Betsy and Arianna! I love to live vicariously through my outspoken, witty characters. It's the closest I'll ever come to coming out of my cowardly corner.

  4. I definitely have a really hard time writing conflict. Growing up in a broken home, I dealt with conflict and high emotions on a daily basis and now that I'm in my adult life, I try to avoid it whenever possible. Including in my writing. I don't like to experience those emotions again, even if it's only imaginary conflict acted out on the page. However, my stories do suffer for it. I need to infuse a little drama into the lives of my characters, because that's the way real life is. That's the only way to make them authentic.

    Great topic this week!