Sunday, March 5, 2006

Characters & Conflict - aka Trials & Tribulations - Writing Tips From A Beginner

Yes, okay so todays picture may reflect how I've been feeling about this new book this last couple of days... But it is actually supposed to be a representation of conflict...

Looking at this pic it's fairly obvious the poor bloke is stressed. Conflict is one of the toughest things to work out in a book. What's holding these two lovely people we've created apart? Why, when we know they're perfect for each other, can't they just sort out their differences inside the first twenty pages? Well, apart from the fact it makes for a pretty darn short story, we need time to build their characters and to show the reader how the process of falling in love and working through their problems builds a strong foundation for the relationship we need to believe survives beyond the pages of our book. Building that character can be a royal pain tho...

The easy option of course, is an external conflict. Easy, I hear you laugh?? Okay, maybe not easy, but easier sometimes than trying to build so complex a character history that we are convinced the people they are at the start have enough personal issues to last a book. For me, one way of doing this is to give them an external conflict 'pre-book' and then reveal that as the story progresses. We all know what those moments may be and no matter what your setting or premise or genre, one thing remains the same; people are people. We are all learning every day, through personal experience, through talks with friends and family, through falling in love and having our hearts broken, through learning to overcome bias or shyness or pre-conception. And all those experiences can cause conflict in a new relationship, right? The thing is how we over-come them, what it takes for us to trust and try again. That special one that makes the difference...

For me, that's what works best. Of course, for someone else it may be different. The thing is to make whatever works for us the writer, believeable, so that we as readers completely 'get' what's holding them back from one another. And part of this goes back to what I was saying earlier about Character Development (knowing your characters). Once you've made up your mind who they are and what they do and you know their back story enough to be able to build a strong picture of them then the conflict is simply another layer. Think of the characters as the 'who', their backgrounds pre-book as the 'what', where your book starts as the 'when' and the conflicts as a big fat 'BUT'... The thing thats in the way... I could go all poetic and call it the roadblock on the highway of love. But, I mean, really... BARF...

I'll probably come back to this knowing me... and also keeping in mind that the conflicts in the book I'm currently working on are making me look like the guy in the picture above. (Only with blonde hair, and as a girl, obviously.) I know whats holding them apart and I'm prepared to be their voice and tell their story. But, I tell ya, if they were my friends in real life... they'd have had a bottle or two of red thrown at them and a lecture from me by now...

Oh, and the letter 't' on my keyboard has decided to stick... Do you have any idea how often I use that??? Sigh...

1 comment:

Donna Alward said...

Trish. Read what you wrote here. Read it again. And once more. Then think about our chat earlier.

And your comment on the external conflict being easier is right on the money. As I learned with my last rejection. LOL

Keep going.