Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Your Character and Conflict

With the changing of the weather to Spring, I have taken my notebook outside to join with all the butterflies, bees and birds in the celebration of renewed life. I am awed by all the new flowers coming up, the yellow daffodils, red tulips and the ever present yellow dandelions. That's right, with every new season and all the new life, there is still the weed that adds its presence to the mix.

As I sit outside and contemplate this phenomena, it reminds me of story and plot. What is the protagonist without his antagonist? Just a washed out gesture of happiness that has no flavor or spice. Sure, you can make a story about a protagonist who meets the girl, gets girl and lives happily ever after, but somehow, it leaves a dull taste in your mouth. Is life really like that? Where is the challenge? Where is the conflict? Where is the "stuff" that makes the story full of zest?

When developing the plot for your story, remember that man is his desire. What that means is that you have to know what the man wants. What he truly craves for. And while he is trying to get it, there will be roadblocks along the way. Conflict. That conflict will bring reality alive in your story. We are creatures that struggle and we relate to the struggles of others. And when we see those struggles come alive and overcome the conflict, then we shake our head and say: "Yes!"

So as you sit down among the flowers to write your next novel, remember that your plot needs conflict (even though it is Spring) and an antagonist will add a great deal of that conflict for you. What are you working on this Spring? Something old or something new? Let me hear about it...


  1. You're so right--conflict keeps the story going! Of course, my characters who bear the brunt of the conflict would probably be much happier if it weren't the case, but such is story-telling. :D

    1. Laura: It's interesting that to keep the reader happy, there usually needs to be conflict. There are those few book that don't have conflict, but they are just that: few.