Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Conflict, Conflict Conflict

Most of us avoid conflict in our daily lives. After all, it's stressful, raises blood pressure, wreaks havoc with sleep, causes headaches, and is just plain unpleasant.

As writers, we can't avoid conflict in our stories. To do so will make the reader either put down our book out of sheer boredom or hurl it against the wall out of sheer frustration. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be put on a reader's automatic "Don't Buy" list.

Amazingly, there are writers who are afraid to put their hero (or heroine) in jeopardy. They protest they love their characters too much to be mean to them. So the hero ends up meandering through a plot, achieving his goal with little or no interference and the story ends happily ever after.

Boring!

Make your main character, particularly your hero, suffer. You can't be nice to him. He's got to go through Hell and back then back to Hell again. Kick him when he's down. Be brutal. Each time, throw a bigger obstacle in his path. One way to do this is to have two Turning Points, one at the end of Act 1 and the other at the end of Act 2. In Death Sword, the first Turning Point was when the demon Samael rendered Karla unconscious then killed her friends in a nightclub fire. Not only was Karla blamed for the murders but she lost her angelic powers as a result. At the end of Act 2, Samael paralyzes Karla and teleports her to a void that fellow angels Xariel and Gabriel cannot easily reach.

Forcing your hero to deal with situations thrust upon him will not only make him (hopefully) stronger, it will prepare him for that Black Moment. 

Boys and girls, this is it. This is the time when your hero believes the worst is behind him. Ha! His greatest nightmare is before him, waiting to destroy everything he stands for. The antagonist is winning and if your hero doesn't prove himself now, he never will. In Death Sword, the Black Moment comes when Samael severely wounds Gabriel and Xariel and stabs a still paralyzed Karla in the heart with his poison-tipped rapier, a weapon that kills angels and humans alike.

This is the do-or-die moment. Your hero can't give up now, he's come too far. If he does, all is lost. The monsters will win.    

This way, when he does defeat the antagonist, the victory is well-earned. It doesn't mean it's a clean win. For example, horror can have the main character winning but at a price. But what you've done is made your hero someone your readers can cheer for.

1 comment:

Damyanti said...

Conflict is a story's heartbeat.

Look forward to your challenge run…
--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge