Sunday, February 24, 2013

Using Conflict in Your Stories

First, I want to apologize for not posting a blog last weekend.  I was sick with a head cold and stomach flu even though I had a flu shot.  I hope to make up for it today even though I'm late.

Most of us don't have a lot of discord in our lives, but to write a story without conflict would be boring.  Author's who write page turners add a lot of tension.  Conflict can raise the stakes in any story.  There are many ways to do this. I write romantic suspense, so I always have the element of danger in my stories.

Danger can come from many sources such as a serial killer, an avalanche, a tsunami, earthquake, a fight, war, stalker, etc.  Running for your life can definitely add tension.  I have named a few, but there are many more too numerous to mention.

Another way to add conflict is to have your hero and heroine work against each other.  An example:  Hero is a contractor who is determined to build apartments near a housing district, and the heroine is head of the neighborhood watch in the same area.  She gets a petition started against the building because she believes it will bring in the wrong element to their community.

Another example:  The hero is a fisherman on the Gulf Coast, and the heroine is the spokes person for an oil company defending them after and oil spill in the gulf.  Just think of all the tension you can build in these scenarios.

Another type of conflict is inner conflict.  This is when a hero/heroine fights against the attraction they feel for one another.  This is inner conflict.  One or the other, or both may feel they shouldn't get together of their conflict. There are numerous reasons why they aren't able to get together, especially, when they are at odds like in the examples above.   

Secondary characters can add conflict: for instance an ex can come into the picture and cause all kinds of problems, or it can be a pet, a child, a job, a hobby, etc.  There are all kinds of ways to add tension to your story, so readers can't lay it down until they finish reading your book.

You can use multiple conflicts in your story, but you shouldn't overload so much that your reader gets tired from running all over the place.  The tension in your book has to be realistic, or your reader will be pulled out of the story and think the author is crazy.  In other words, life doesn't always make sense, but your book better be logical, or you've lost your reader.

I have touched on a few ways to ratchet your story up, but there are many more.  Good luck to all the writers out there, and thank you to those who read my blog. 

Have a great (without snow) week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

Best always,

Sandra K. Marshall


K.T. Bishop said...

Missed you last week. I've learned a new technique for conflict!

Sandy said...

What is it, K.T.? Are you going to blog about it?

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Thanks, Sandy. :)

Carol Ericson said...

Good tips, Sandy. Another way to add tension is to add the element of racing against the clock. However, I have to disagree with your statement that most of us don't have a lot of discord in our lives!

Wendi said...

Glad you're feeling better, Sandy!

Jennifer Faye said...

Those are great suggestions for up'ing the tension in stories. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Sandy said...

You're welcome, Historical writer.

LOL Carol, I know you're right about the discord you busy woman. Some of you here today have extremely hectic lives, but it would still sound pretty boring in a book.

Thanks, Wendi.

I'm glad you like my suggestions, Jennifer. I'm sure there are more I could have used.