It’s Hard to Type with a Cat on My Arm

by Lisa Sledge

The problem is the cat’s purring. And his fur is so soft.

Now he’s kneading the bulge of chub on my stomach. That’s not exactly endearing, but it makes him happy and I can’t bring myself to shove him aside. I guess I’ll be writing one handed tonight. I’m such a sucker.

Everyone at my house has running noses and hacking lungs. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, we all look like Rudolph. I’m just grateful that my own cold started last and I got everyone through the worst of theirs. I don’t know what we’ve got, but it came with a solid four days of fever for everyone it’s touched. Our house should be quarantined.

Which brings me, in a very roundabout way, to conflict. Sometimes I forget that an antagonist or opposing force doesn’t have to be a person—it can be anything. Remember your elements of fiction and the sources of conflict?

Man vs. Man
Man vs. Machine
Man vs. Nature
Man vs. Society
Man vs. Self

Too often we think of conflict only in terms of our main storyline, when in truth, it takes a never ending series of smaller conflicts to move your story toward the climax.  It could be something as simple as a cat that gets in the way, a red nose threatening to drip when your MC’s out of tissues, a shoelace that won’t stay tied, or a cell phone that splashes into a pot of soup. My favorite is internal conflict, but I find it’s the hardest to create on a page.

Look for the places in your story that drag, mark them, and see what new problems you can introduce to energize those slower scenes.

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Filed under Character, Family, writing process

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