|From the New Yorker|
For example, the first panel I attended was called Couples Solving Crimes, and the second was Guns and Roses: Romantic Elements in Crime Fiction. In the first panel, the couples involved weren’t necessarily working as partners, which one might have expected in a mystery crime panel. Instead, they were often partners off the job, or had jobs that brought them together. But each panelist did mention that having dual protagonists, or a protagonist and a sidekick, was a way to increase the conflicts in the books. You can have conflicts between partners, conflicts of personalities, and conflicts about their jobs.
The second panel was made up of authors whose characters in the books were in romantic relationships, but again, each panelist stressed that having a relationship could add conflict to the stories.
In a third panel, Do the Twist: Keep the Audience Guessing, the topic of conflict again was a major focus. Readers like plot twists. The best endings are completely unexpected but inevitable. A “Why didn’t I see that?” is what an author loves to hear. Twists are obstacles, and obstacles are conflict.
I remember one of my first critique group leaders who, when I’d been writing and submitting chapters of my first book, Finding Sarah, said, “Oh, don’t let anything bad happen to Sarah. I like her.” Needless to say, I left that group in a hurry.
Tension and conflict keep the reader turning pages, and that’s what it’s all about. Character A wants X. What happens if he can’t get it? What happens if he can? There are three routes you can take. One, he gets what he wants, which pretty much ends the conflict. Two, he can’t get what he wants, which will send him in another direction. But the best source of conflict is for the answer to be, "yes, but." Give the character a choice, and have one be, “It sucks,” and the other, “It’s suckier.” He wants a raise to pay for his mother’s medical expenses. Okay, give it to him. But in order to get the raise, he has to work on weekends, which are the only days he can see his children. What does he choose?
What kinds of conflicts will keep you turning pages? What books have you read (or television shows have you watched) that are more like the cartoon in this post?
a giveaway over at my blog good from today until April 1st (no joke), along with a chance for you to do something for a good cause. Hope you'll check it out.
|Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.|