Sometimes it feels like my life is a total conflict. I always have more than one thing I want and need to do; leaving me conflicted, making it difficult for me to focus on my goals. I need to be more like Scarlett O’Hara. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and whatever got in her way, she either bulldozed through it or connived her way around it.
Conflict is something we try to avoid in our daily life but avoiding it in our writing will kill the story. There is no story without conflict. Who wants to hear about little miss perfect who always has every hair in place, is never late, never gets mad at anyone, never trips, never runs out of money, is never jealous, her house is perfect and somehow she manages to do it without a housekeeper, even though she can afford one, she doesn’t have to work because she is independently wealthy because some unknown relative died and she didn’t care and so inherited by default, all men are drawn to her but somehow she always knows how to keep them all happy. You get it, she is boring. Even though she has everything, she doesn’t have a story to tell.
The really good stories are those that torture the main character. They have to struggle. Think Scarlett O’Hara. She seemed to have everything, she was beautiful, lived in a gorgeous home, was cherished by her family and most men were drawn to her like ants to a plantation picnic, except the one she wanted. Even though Ashley had a small part in the movie and the book, without him, there would not have been a story. Scarlet’s goal was Ashley and her conflict was that he was in love with another woman, Melanie; a sweet woman who befriended her when no one else would. Rhett was a complication but he wasn’t a conflict. He wanted Scarlett and because of that, he sometimes got in her way but her focus was always on Ashley, until the very end when she realized she did love Rhett.
Take a good look at your story. Do you need to torture your characters more? Have you been coddling them?
If you are struggling with conflict in your stories, run, don’t walk, to your nearest computer and sign up for Cheryl St John’s September class on Conflict. You can find her blog on my list of blogs or at the link below. She is a worthy teacher and the price of $10.00 for a month long class cannot be beat. The class has just started so you should be able to catch up. What are you waiting for? Go do it, now! http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/2011/08/september-workshop-conflict-makes-story.html
When you get done signing up, check out a few more of the blogs listed on my site. I’m sure you’ll find something of interest there.
Oh, fiddle dee dee, now I must get back to my writing.