Conflict is a good thing.

» Posted on Jul 12, 2006 in Blog | Comments Off on Conflict is a good thing.

Conflict in the Webster dictionary is defined as to fight, battle, contend, to be antagonistic, incompatible or contradictory, to be in opposition, to clash. When describing conflict, there are some strong words used. Nothing halfhearted here. Conflict isn’t two people bickering back and forth. It often can be an all out war.

Conflict is what propels a story forward and keeps the reader turning the page of your book. Without conflict all you’ll have is a characterization of some people. Rarely does this hold the reader’s attention for long. They want something to happen, especially in today’s society where people get bored easily.

When dealing with conflict you need your main characters at least to have an internal and external conflict. These conflicts come from the character’s background because the conflict is what interferes with the protagonist’s goals. Example: In Tidings of Joy, my October Love Inspired, Chance has come to Sweetwater Lake to help Tanya because he owes her deceased husband. But when the town finds out that he had been in prison, some of the people made it difficult for him to fulfill that goal. That’s external conflict–something happening to the character from an outside source/person. One of Chance’s internal conflicts (he has several) is that all he wants to do is live his life alone, having no one depend on him, but that becomes difficult as he finds himself falling in love with Tanya and he is pulled more and more into her life and her daughter’s. Internal conflict comes from what is going on inside a person–his feelings, emotions.

Conflict can change and evolve as your characters do in your story (just as goals and motivation can). And as I stated above, a character can have more than one external and internal conflict. Often the internal and external conflicts can be tied together. In Heart of the Amazon, my January 2007 Love Inspired Suspense, Slader doesn’t ever want to be responsible for a woman’s life in the jungle again because of what happened to his wife, but because he has reluctantly agreed to help Kate find her brother, he is put in a position of making sure she gets there alive. People are after Kate. Her life is in danger. He is forced to protect her. He has to wage an internal battle with himself as well as an external one with the people determined to stop Kate at all costs.

Remember: conflict has to be in a fiction story. End. Period. Game over.