May 22, 2010

Stories

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A new heroine and hero have been talking to me lately, and I think their story has to be told.

They’re Bethany and Cody, the best friends of my hero/heroine in “Blind Date Bride” … the ones who enter poor Kari and Damien into the contest they think will ruin their lives. As secondary characters, they’re dating throughout “Blind Date Bride.”

I don’t know a whole lot about them yet. Laid-back, surfer-type Cody works with at-risk teens and is a recreational pilot. Bethany is a flighty, artistic wild-child that Kari has been trying to get to settle down for years. (I think the fact that she’s had more sex partners than he has will be a sore point between them.)

In preparation to start their story, I’m reviewing the element of storytelling that always gives me fits: Conflict.

In my defense, I’m a Libra. We Libras like balance in all things … the struggles throw me. Of course, we can’t have our characters happily bopping from date to date for 300 pages. Even I would get bored with that! 😉

Since I struggle with conflict, I read a lot about it. One tip I read while taking my online synopsis-writing class back in March really helped me put it in perspective:

It’s only conflict if it creates an internal or external war for your character. … Without the push/pull it’s just a situation. Maybe an uncomfortable situation — a situation the character would like to change — but still just situation.

— Sherry Lewis, “The Selling Synopsis,” Lesson 3: Layering Conflicts

When I read that, I realized that I’m the queen of putting my characters in uncomfortable situations (Bree running into Mike at the strip club — while he’s onstage … Dustin sneezing on Cassie on the dance floor …) But these things don’t really create an internal war for anyone.

Well, maybe Bree, the virgin, is a little put off by it. But does it set off a war? Probably not.

Other definitions of conflict, from Debra Dixon’s “GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict:”

  1. Conflict is a struggle against someone or something in which the outcome is in doubt.
  2. Conflict is bad things happening to good people.
  3. Conflict is bad things happening to bad people.
  4. Conflict is friction, tension, opposition.

I guess some of the things I’ve come up with could be “bad things happening to good people.”

Anyway, I’m going to try to come up with some strong conflicts for Bethany and Cody before I even start writing. Usually, I tend to be more of a “pantster,” but maybe I’ll write faster if I plot a little beforehand.

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