More than once, you’ll see I have written that one thing or another weighs strongly when writing a book. Here’s another one. Conflict is everything. In every bestselling book, the conflict mentioned on the pages keeps a reader reading. And that’s what we want to do: keep readers reading. Because think about it. Why write something no one wants to read?
There are four types of conflict that’s usually seen in books: man versus man, man versus self, man versus society and man versus nature.
So what is conflict anyway? It’s the struggle between opposing forces.
There should be conflict between my main characters, but there can be conflict between my love interest and family members and friends. Conflict can happen between just about anyone in a book. It’s vital to fiction, because only through a struggle can something be gained and appreciated. It can also make something better understood.
When I’ writing, I’m not sure that I consciously think about conflict. I know it belongs in my book, so when I’m writing about two characters or about my antagonist, I automatically throw conflict in. To give a good idea about conflict, think about this. A Comanche warrior, an African slave new to America, and a wealthy planter find themselves alone, high in the mountains, and must rely on each other if they want to survive winter. The Comanche desires to kill the planter. The planter desires to kill the Comanche. The slave wants to escape and find freedom. How do they rely on each other if they don’t trust each other? How can they help each other if neither of them speaks the same languages?
When you have conflict like this, a reader will keep reading simply to find out what’s going to happen.
When I’m writing, this is around the time I throw in more conflict. Why not throw some wild wolves in the process, hungry wild wolves ready to sink their teeth into flesh that has warm blood? Now we’re talking.
Snow is falling. Food needs to be found and cooked. Fires need to stay lit. A shelter must be built. A few animals need to be skinned to keep them warm. What are these three enemies going to do? Look out for only themselves and die? It's a possibility.
A book with a good measure of conflict has greater potential of getting read all the way through.
That’s what I wrote about today. More conflict has been dumped on the family I’m writing about. Their trust in each other is failing. An outside conflict in the city has threatened their plantation. More rumors are being heard about an approaching war between the North and the South.
How can I not lose myself to writing when there’s so much that can happen in my storyline? So much in fact, I might have to eliminate a few after I’ve written a few more chapters.
Conflict. Make sure to include it in your writing.
Until next time, keep going! Start that manuscript and get it completed.
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