Thursday, May 14, 2009

External Conflict in our Stories

Missy here. I'm really focusing on external conflict right now so thought I'd toss out a bit of what I've been studying.

First off, I'm reading The Plot Thickens (which I mentioned previously) by Noah Lukeman. In his chapter on conflict, something he said really struck me. He said:

Conflict serves many functions: It involves the reader by requring him to take sides (and thus sympathize), it creates a rift that paves the way for resolution and satisfaction, it aids in suspense, it can lend a work a sense of direction, and it can be unexpected and thus create unpredictability.

Wow. I loved that first bit--that it requires the reader take sides! I've talked before about making a character sympathetic. But I think the way he stated this made it really sink in.

We want our reader to take sides! Of course, if you write suspense and have a villian, that's pretty obvious. But what about in a sweet romance? How's the reader going to choose either the hero or the heroine?

I think maybe our job is to make them choose both! And whoever's point of view they're in at the moment, that's who'll they'll be rooting for! :)

One thing I've observed while reading is that I like to anticipate things that are going to happen. If I see something bad coming, I'll race ahead to find out whether or not it really will. And I'll be rooting for the character who is most affected. I may also be rooting for the other character not to do what I see coming! But either way, I'm rooting for both of them.

So let's take our readers for a ride. Let's give them a situation where they choose sides--even if they switch back and forth in their loyaties. As long as they're loyal to at least one character, then they should stick with us through the story.

I'll be away from the computer today, but I hope you'll leave your comments for me to look at when I'm back online on Friday. Also, I hope you'll stop by my personal blog for an interview with Julie Lessman and also to read an excerpt from her newest book, A Passion Denied. If you leave a comment and contact info, you'll be entered in a drawing for one (your choice) of Julie's books!


  1. That's a good point, Missy! Most of my books do not contain a 'villian' per se. Situations rather than people play the villians. But I do have moments where the reader will feel more for one main character than the other.
    Given me new food for thought today!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. I would love to enter into the contest to win a book.
    Praise God from Whom all Blessing Flo


  3. Diane and Edna, thanks so much for stopping by on Thursday!

    Edna, I have you entered on for Julie's book on my other blog. :)