Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Season for Grace by Linda Goodnight / Internal Conflict

Yesterday, Angie mentioned changing her character's career, plus adding internal conflict to her story. I'm also having to add internal conflict for my hero during my revisions. So it's got me thinking...

I've been reading a book by Linda Goodnight and picked it up to study because she's doing such a good job with the hero. A Season for Grace was an ACFW Book of the Year award winner last year, and I bought it soon after the contest results were announced because so many people commented on how great it is.

I was interested to see how Linda handled the hero's internal conflict, because I'm having to move my internal conflict earlier in the story as well as add more of it. (A good bit was in my head as backstory but not on the page.) In A Season for Grace, the hero is damaged. A dark, brooding cop who's that way because he's a tough guy--from being put into foster care as a child and separated from his brothers. She had all that history right up front so we could see why he's so tough and almost cold. He holds himself aloof because of his painful past.

Yet he's very likable, not only because we know about his past, but also because he cares for stray and abused animals. It softens him and makes us tolerate the fact that he's refusing to be a mentor for a kid in foster care. Since we know he's really a softie, we're pulling for him.

Linda did such a great job on the book. I'm still not finished with it, so I don't know how it'll end. But I definitely feel a happy ending coming on. :)

What about you? What do you do to show the protagonist's backstory without dumping in too much? How do you make your character likable and sympathetic?



  1. Good morning,
    You must be up bright and early to have just finished a post to your blog.
    I just felt like responding to your blog befor heading to work. I don't write professionally. From what I read in your most recent post, it appears that you do. What I have written is on my blog now. I've been spending the last six weeks posting a "connect the dots" manuscript . I intend to post one more chapter this Sunday. After that, I am not certain of what I will do.
    My reason for blogging was to journal. Then, my life became very busy, so I stopped blogging almost as soon as I began.
    Your profile was directly under mine, either under the interest of God or Jesus Christ. I don't remember which. But that is how I found you.
    I would like to read some of your thoughts on God. I will check back with your blog later.

  2. Hi, Jim. I just had a second to check out your blog (it's 2 pm and I still haven't had lunch!). :) But it looks very interesting. Looks like you've done a lot of Biblical study!

    I actually write Christian fiction--thus the talk of characters. :)

    We have others here on the blog that write non-fiction as well. We're a group of Christian writers who love to talk about writing, about life,and about our faith! We hope you'll stop by again.

    Oh, and I didn't post that early. I set the blog to automatically post at 2 am. :)

    Oh! Gotta go run watch the MLB draft to see if my nephew gets drafted in the early rounds!! (Y'all please say a prayer for Buster Posey as he starts looking toward a new stage in his life!!)


  3. Missy, one of the reasons I love to use deep POV is to reveal things. The characters may hide things from others, but not from themselves. No one may know that the smell of roses reminds the hero of his wretched grandmother who used to lock him in a closet, but he's certainly not likely to present his love interest with roses. Likewise, the smell of oatmeal cookies may take him back to happier times, before his mother died and he was forced to go live with said grandmother. Again, things he's gonna keep tucked away in his heart of hearts, only sharing them with himself.
    Which reminds me, the ACFW course for this month is on deep POV, if anyone would like to learn more:-)

  4. Very good points, Mindy. I love the scenarios you gave. Giving the reader that info makes us root for him. It also really adds an emotional punch--so important! Because haven't you read contest entries before that were really well-written and nicely plotted but left you feeling nothing? You've got to have that emotion! Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry. :)


  5. Jim,

    I wanted to let you know that some of us have written some devotions. You can click on the devotion label for an idea of what some of us believe or how we try to inspire others through the Word of God. There are more that aren't labeled because we blogged for quite some time without labeling our posts. Thank you for visiting us.

  6. Okay, I'm working on the learning curve on back story additives, lol. I wanted to comment on how lucky I was to have Linda Goodnight as a reviewer. I won a review by her through the Finish the Book loop (RWA Faith, Hope, and Love sub-chapter writer's support network) and have to say she is sooo good at what she does! I really appreciate Linda and needed to say so.


  7. Jenn, I'm glad you mentioned the devotionals.

    Angie, how cool that you were able to have Linda. I bet she would be really good! Her books are all great.


  8. Good post.Love that internal conflict.