The author had a protagonist and a sidekick and a problem. Both characters knew what they had to do, so they worked together and did it. Problem solved. But too quickly, too neatly. And the writer didn’t see how he could insert any conflict since the characters were working together and knew certain things had to be done to bring the plot to a conclusion. And yet … the writer didn’t want things to go so smoothly. What kind of a story is it if everything runs along the tracks with no derailments? A boring story.
Of course you can always insert problems that arise from outside influences or from the antagonist. But you can also have problems between the two characters, despite their common goal.
Look at your own life. I'm sure you have had occasions when you wanted to set up a lunch with friends or a family reunion. You think it's going to be easy. Everyone wants to get together; everyone is glad you're all finally going to have a sit-down to discuss things.
And yet, when you try to work it all out, suddenly everyone has a different opinion. No one wants the same thing or even the same outcome. Lo and behold, even your friends and relatives see things differently than you do.
If you look at things not just from this is where my character is and this is where he needs to be and this is the straightest way to get there, but rather from the different points of views and concerns of all the parties, you have conflict. It will arise naturally.
And if you’re still having problems, talk to your sweet freelance editor. She knows how to create problems.
Do things ever run too smoothly in your book or story? What diabolical or clever means have you used to create conflict between characters?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and Chair of the Texas Book Festival Author Escorts. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of the novels Dismembering the Past and Angel Sometimes, three books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe.