Monday, August 06, 2007

In Praise of Conflict - Schneider

A writer friend recently critiqued a proposal I'd written. "Written" is actually far too mild a word for what I did. I sweated. I dreamed. I struggled. I did everything I knew to do to make this the proposal that would return me to the ranks of the published.

Wouldn't you know it, her wise counsel showed me some major holes in my story line. What was I missing? Conflict.

Let me tell you this about me -- I hate conflict. I'll do just about anything, short of endangering my children, to avoid conflict. And, to be truthful, I thought I'd done a pretty good job of putting conflict in my story.

But my friend is right. There's not enough of it yet.

For those of us who are novelists, conflict is the engine that keeps a story moving. Readers aren't consciously aware of this, but if the conflict sags, they're likely to put the book down and go on to something else.

As I've wrestled with this thought this week, I've seen a parallel in my own life. I thought I'd been through the wringer writing that proposal. Evidently, though, I hadn't struggled enough. I need to push myself further, force myself beyond my innate avoidance of difficult situations, and push my characters where they need to go to make the story all it can be.

Yes, I'd prefer a relaxing afternoon on my deck swing, with a cool glass of iced tea, but there's no story in that, is there?

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