Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Creating Conflict

blog47 Today, I was put in a situation that I was not at all comfortable with.  In fact, I was stuck in a situation that I frequently have nightmares about.

I was back in middle school.

Well, today I was an adult volunteer at my son’s middle school and proctoring a state exam (the North Carolina EOGs).  But gosh, the flashbacks.  The lockers with unworkable combination locks.  The hormones.  The cliques.

When you proctor a test, you’re basically there to ensure that the teacher and the students aren’t cheating and that nothing funny is going on.  Yes, it’s hours long and borrrrring.  My mind wandered.

I started thinking that if I were writing a book about myself, this would be a fantastic conflict for the character representing myself.  Because middle school was miserable.  I mean, you could promise me eternal youth, but if I had to spend it as a middle schooler, I’d turn you down flat.

That’s the best way to create internal or external conflict for your characters.  What’s their worst nightmare?  What scares them the most?  That’s what needs to happen to them, for the best internal/external plot conflicts.  That’s what keeps us, as readers, interested. It’s an: “Oh Lord!  How are they gonna get out of this one?”

So make them rush into a burning building.  Make their child get kidnapped.  Have them lose their job or their home.  Torture them a little for the sake of the story and see what happens.  Riveting reading is usually the outcome.

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