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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How Do You Spell Conflict? Today, it's L-I-F-E for me

Thanks for being so patient with me.

Talk about a hectic life. Work was a bit chaotic today, and I was halfway to St Louis for a doctor’s appointment when I realized I hadn’t posted my blog!


Thanks to modern technology, and a boss who accessed my files and forwarded my article to me, and a doctor running late, and a public library down the street from the doctor’s office…

Anyway, I was finally able to get this up. And race back to the doctor’s office for the appointment. So, without delay, here goes:

Conflict, as we’ve seen in previous posts and will continue to see in upcoming posts, is integral to creating a novel your readers won’t be able to put down.

Without conflict, your characters are living “happily ever after” at the beginning, so why turn the page? Every romance reader picks up a book certain of two key elements:

1. The book will end with a satisfying, sigh-inducing ending.
2. The hero and heroine will go through gut-wrenching, life-changing emotional, sometimes physical, challenges and changes to reach their HEA (happily ever after).

Like Lee (see yesterday’s post), I am a staunch believer in Deb Dixon’s GMC book. It’s one of the first how-to books I bought myself. I utilize those charts and the goal, motivation, conflict sentence with every book and character (main character).

There are also a few other sentences I like to answer during the course of my writing. Rarely can I answer them at the beginning, but as I get to know my characters better, as their story comes to life on the page, the answers to these questions come easier to me.

Now, I wish I could take credit for coming up with them, however, I must attribute them to an author whose work and workshops I admire: Virginia Kantra. I do, however, need to make something clear. In my ever unorganized office (think, more like my corner in our dining room) I have been unable to locate my notes from Virginia’s workshop for the purposes of this blog, and over the years the exact verbiage of the questions has subtly shifted.

So, while the idea behind the questions is purely attributed to Virginia, my apologies for any changes to her original words.

Okay, moving right along to the topic at hand. Conflict, and how these three questions may help you.

While your story conflict may involve outside forces, you must also realize that your hero’s/heroine’s conflict can and should come from within, and from each other. If your characters fall in love in chapter one, and spend the rest of the book fighting “the bad guys” but always feeling lovey-dovey with each other, odds are your reader may not be as satisfied.

The three sentences below help me in keeping the push/pull between my hero and heroine alive until the end.

My hero admires ____________ about/in my heroine.

My hero challenges my heroine by/to ____________________.

My hero notices_____________________________ about my heroine (something she doesn’t recognize in herself, yet).

The last sentence ties into the idea that your hero is the ONLY one for your heroine. And vice versa. He sees something within her that others may overlook, or fail to recognize, or deem inconsequential. But for your hero, this characteristic, habit, quirk, trait, etc is what endears the heroine to him. It’s what makes your character unique, and why your hero can’t live without your heroine.

Hopefully you’ll find these three simple questions helpful, along with the books and tips the rest of the Posse shares this month.

If you’d like to post your sentences, I’ll be back later this evening to look them over. And I’m sure the rest of the gang will comment as well.

Until later!



At 5:00 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

This is particularly good for me, Pris. I'm much better at external conflict, and my first drafts usually have the H/H trotting through the story hand and hand. I'll print this out and maybe it'll save me some time in revisions.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Hey, I'm going to go back, read everything over, and put together my sentences here in a minute, but just wanted to say I'm very impressed you posted at all!

This made me smile. I just ranted at my CP's earlier today about the perfect storm of chaos life has become all of a sudden. :)

Now I'll go back and see how my story fits into these sentences....

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Hi guys. Just pulled stepped in the doorway from the doctor's office. A 3:15 appointment turned into a 5:15 appointment. :-(

Esri, I hope the sentences help, even if it's in a small way. It'll be fun to chat about it in SF.

Gillian, it's nice to hear that my life isn't the only crazy one.:-)

I'll check back later to see if you've had time to post your sentences. Then again, I know how time can get away from us. So if you can't make it back today. No worries. I'll be back tomorrow just in case.

Off to micro a lean cuisine. :-)


At 8:35 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'm going to try the questions about my wip.
My hero admires the forthrightness, intelligence, and ambition in my heroine.

My hero challenges my heroine by/to think of the effect of her behavior on others.

My hero notices the vulnerability about my heroine (something she doesn’t recognize in herself, yet).

That was pretty easy!

(Pris, I never met anybody who was as good at getting EVERYTHING done as you are!)

At 11:17 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Yes, but I can think of nobody more capable of handling the perfect storm, my Passion's Slaves, buddy.

Hmm. This one made me think. (Sometimes a dangerous thing!)

My hero admires my heroine's joy for life and her completely unaffected personality. (even if it does mean he is constantly trying to find her to put her shoes back on!)

My hero challenges my heroine because he is unwilling to seize happiness as it comes because he thinks he does not deserve it. AND he thinks he is unworthy of a young girl's love.

My hero notices how hard she is trying to make her mark in the world with some grand mission when every little thing she does for those around her is mark enough.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I like these questions! I can give these some thought on the front end but I'm betting I'll have a better, more solid answer after completion. Will be interesting.


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