Let's Plotsorm a ConflictWe might call this Plotstorming (or developing together) Conflict from Character. However, you can use plotstorming to do a lot of things besides developing your character.
Plotstorming is a group technique I developed several years ago that involves several writers getting together and, based on the old Brainstorming techniques, throw around bunches of ideas, whatever pops into their heads about a specific subject to reach a specific goal. In this way of thinking, it's okay to say something weird, inane, off the center subject, what pops into your head. It's not right or wrong, unless you don't have the eventual goal in mind. Often someone else may pick up the crazy idea and say, "it might work if instead, you do ..." So everybody feeds off everyone else's ideas. Of course, the participants are expected to be genuinely helpful.
The person presenting the plot problem directs the flow, and sometimes this is the hard part because the basic problem to be solved may have more to it still stuck in the presentor's head that hasn't been explained. It's keeping the mind open do other people's approach to one's problem that's hard.
I thought Plotstorming could be a very good way to help us all watch a character's personality and traits develop into the story's conflict. We can also help make decisions as to what sort of adversaries he needs as well as his heroine in order for his story to play out.
This is a story I probably won't write. Yet it seems always on my mind. I worry about it being commercially feasible due to the hero's very fervent religious beliefs. Since he is the main adversary in SINS OF THE HEART, however, I can't change that trait about him, and wouldn't want to. But because Davy is such a strong, charismatic character, he makes a good base for developing conflict from character. So for now, we can just have fun with it.
Here's the background:
Davy Polruhan is a Cornishman who has lived in Looe all his life. Cornwall of 1813 is very different and isolated from England, almost like a separate country. Davy is one of those naturally charismatic people who seemed to be loved by everyone from the day he was born. Son of a moderately wealthy boat builder and merchant, and closely related to the local aristocracy, Davy becomes a natural leader of men, and his ready, warm smile wins women's hearts everywhere he goes. As the heroine of SINS says, "Whatever Davy wants, people smile and give it to him." It's almost as if no one ever says no to him.
Davy also grew up as an evangelical Methodist, as did 90% of the people in Cornwall at that time, and his beliefs are strongly rooted in the common good of the people he loves. Their poverty breaks his heart, and so, when the latest war with France began and cut off their livelihood which was based on selling fish to Europe, especially France, he took up smuggling to feed them. He was known as Guinea Jack, and soon became involved in spying for England. He's extremely loyal to his country, his people, and he's not at all fond of aristocrats, who he sees as selfish and greedy. Davy also has extremely rigid ideas about women, who must be pure. He was severely challenged in SINS after learning Jane was not who she said she was, and worse, he knew she had given herself to the hero, and was not the virtuous woman he'd always believed her to be.
He has very fixed standards of right and wrong. He would not thing them rigid because what's right is right and there's no two ways about it. But through all this, his natural charm and inherent happiness with life shine through his craggy, angular features, and people love him for it. He's tall, rugged and energetic, too, by the way.
Davy's life has been an enormous success. He has financial success in a business he loves, building boats and taking them to sea, the leadership of a community he loves, massive respect of others, and causes he truly believes in. He has everything a man could want, except for one thing. He had always believed Jane, heroine of SINS, would eventually come around and agree to marry him. And instead, she fell in love with that damned nob, the Earl of Edenstorm. Rejection is just not in Davy's repertoire. And not only that, he was actually forced to save their lives at just a time and way that dangerously jeopardized his mission to the coast of France. Davy did not take it well. A furious temper Jane had always suspected burst loose, and she was afraid Davy was more criminal in his intents than anyone in Looe knew. And they were at sea, on Davy's boat. Anything could happen. Fortunately the good in him won out, and in the end Davy graciously accepted Jane's choice. But he lost his precious boat, the Nightwind, and several of his men, close friends, died. And deep inside, Davy is angry at God because he doesn't know how to handle not getting what he wants.
Davy rescued a Frenchwoman and her baby, along with the secret that helped end the war. I see her as the heroine, but her personality is not yet developed. So we're free to play with her.
I see two conflict development questions to begin with:
1. What do you see as the challenge Davy must face in his romantic journey? Where does he need to grow before he is really ready for his true love? What are his beliefs that he must re-evaluate and either change or re-affirm? How will his character influence the conflict to come?
2. Who is the heroine? How can she most challenge him?
You can ask questions or propose ideas, or do whatever you want with this. Have at it! I'll be here all day, ready to play!