Writing internal and external conflictToday, we're happy to have author Christie Kelley with us to talk a bit about how she approaches writing conflict, both internal and external. It seems Christie is like many of us -- while we hate conflict in real life, we don't mind giving our characters some big conflicts to overcome because we know it makes the story stronger and a more satisfying read.
I hate conflict. Really, just ask my husband and he’ll tell you it’s true. Conflict drives me crazy, stresses me out and makes me want to hide under the covers for days.
And yet, I love writing conflict.
There is nothing more fun than taking two people and turning their lives upside down with just a little conflict. I know—I have a serious problem.
For me, writing conflict is easy. While I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, I always plot out my major conflicts for my hero and heroine and my antagonist.
I’m a big believer in Deb Dixon’s, Goal, Motivation and Conflict theory. For those of you who might not have heard of it, I’ll briefly describe it. You think about what your character wants more than anything (goal), and why it’s so important to them (motivation) and, here’s the fun part, why they can’t have it (conflict).
In my current release, Every Night I’m Yours, my hero’s goal is to take the heroine away for two weeks and convince her to marry him. Why? Because he’s decided it’s time to marry and she fits his needs. So what’s holding him back? Ahh, the conflict…my heroine is fine with the going away part, but she saw the abuse her father gave her mother and wants no part of marriage.
So that’s conflict, right? Well, not completely. There’s internal and external conflict. What I described above is external conflict. It’s what moves the plot along at a good pace. The internal conflict is the root of the emotional impact of a story.
In the same story, I told you my heroine is afraid of marriage because of her parents' marriage. But the truth of the matter is, she’s terrified she has her father’s anger problem. So her internal goal is to never marry because she might abuse her husband or child. But the conflict comes in because the more time she spends with the hero, the more she comes to love him. Her fear is holding her back.
For true conflict, the reader has to know what’s at risk for both parties. Why it’s so important that the conflict be resolved, and what the consequences are if it’s not.
I’d love to hear what you all think about writing conflict. Is it fun? Easy? Or does writing conflict stress you out completely? I’m giving away a copy of Every Night I’m Yours for the best comments.
Labels: writing conflict