Category Archives: Plot

Conflict Quotes

Not all these quotes are from writers. But they get the idea across. And, if you’re interested, there’s some further learning.

 

William Faulkner at the Nobel banquet in 1950

There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-speech.html

James Frey

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict, conflict.

Margaret Heffernan

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

Patrick Lencioni

I don’t think anyone ever gets completely used to conflict. If it’s not a little uncomfortable, then it’s not real.

 

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Exercises in Conflict

13 Questions/Thoughts/Exercises to Help the Conflict in your Novel

  1. What IS the conflict in your novel?
  2. What does your main character want?
  3. What five ways do you keep your character from getting what he wants?
  4. Do you start the story in the right place? Is it the day something new happens? Is a conflict hinted at on page one? Is the major conflict revealed as the main character moves forward into the beginning of the middle of the novel?
  5. What is the part of your story that creates the most tension? Why?
  6. Write your main plot as a yes or no question. In film, this is the major dramatic question (MDQ).
  7. What is the definition of “inciting incident?” Joseph Campbell says it’s a call to action for the main character. What does this mean?
  8. What is the inciting incident, or that first point of no return, for your main character?
  9. Write the inciting incident from several (at least three) points of view. How does each character view this event? Is your main character the most interesting?
  10. Remember these? What is your book and why?
    1. Man against man
    2. Man against society
    3. Man against self
    4. Man again nature
    5. Man against technology
  11. Make sure you have only ONE main plot or you will wrestle trying to control and write plots of equal weight. While you should have subplots, none should be more important than that problem you reveal in the MDQ.
  12. I think some of the best conflicts result from relationships. What are you finding in your book?
  13. Our good friend Richard Peck said, “You are no better than your first line.” And that’s the truth with everything. Make sure each thing you write, is your best. Always.

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Conflict? Say What?

So I did something I never do. I spoke to an editor at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. Kelsy Thompson is an editor for Jolly Fish and Flux. Both houses were recently acquired by North Star Editions (https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/72423-north-star-editions-shining-a-light-on-ya-and-mg-fiction.html).

I was scared as it was as I walked in to talk to her. And Kelsey is super kind. Still I didn’t have my printed pages (broke rule number one–be prepared) and as I rambled at her (broke rule number two–be able to sell your work in 25 words or less),  I realized I had no idea what my newest novel was about (broke rule number three–know what you’re story is about in the first place).

After stammering at her for awhile, Kelsy said, “This book idea sounds so cute, Carol. But what’s the conflict?”

Conflict?

I looked at her for about 18 years. Then I jumped up and ran out of the room. I scared three people who were in line to see this terrific editor. This is not my fault.

So what is conflict?  We know our characters have goals–things they want. Our job as writers is to keep our characters from getting what they want. That series of events of hindering and stopping our characters from achieving their goals is where the conflict is.

Here’s some math to make things more confusing:  cute girl character + what she wants, what she really, really wants + stumbling blocks you throw in the way to torture your character = conflict.

I can do that. Can I do that?

Let’s meet here tomorrow and see.

 

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo

On Thursday I wrote a long list of things we could do to prepare for NaNoWriMo and for some reason, when I went to post, it wouldn’t.

I pitched a fit and stomped off.

Went to the TH evening party and it was a lot of fun.

Never resent.

You have today and tomorrow to think about a few questions so you can jump into NaNo a little more prepared.

BTW, if you want to play with WIFYR, email Bruce here: wifyrdoesnano@gmail.com and make your goals. Bruce will add you to the list. The goal is 1,000,000 words as a group! Woot woot!

Novel questions:

  1. Who is your main character?
  2. What does she want?
  3. Have her write a note to you.
  4. Ask her 25 personal questions and write this interview down.
  5. Who are her friends?
  6. Her enemies?
  7. Her family?
  8. What is she afraid of?
  9. Can she sing?
  10. Dance?
  11. Is she funny?
  12. Snarky?
  13. Does he have a crush?
  14. A true love?
  15. What is the scariest thing that can happen to her?
  16. Will it happen to her?
  17. What do you see as the climax of the story? Do you have a general idea?
  18.  Name three things she will lose during the telling of the story.
  19. Are you trying to teach a lesson?
  20. What are you willing to give up to complete your 50,000 words?

Also, every Thursday evening, from 7-10 pm we will meet at Kyra Leigh’s house, eat and write.

Last year this was a lot of fun. This year it will be even more fun because I won’t have to clean every TH in anticipation of people arriving at my home. YAHOO, KYRA LEIGH! Anyway, if you want to bring potluck (which is what gets you into the house) and write for a few hours with fellow NaNoers, let me know. We have room for about 15 people.

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Exercises, Kyra, Plot, Voice, Writing Marathon, writing process

Monday Challenge Hint(s)

Do you know where this book is headed? By now you should have an idea. If you’re stuck, write scenes. One scene an hour.

What have you learned about your main character?

Who has surprised you most in this writing process–as far as characters? People you’re working with? Living with?

We’re two weeks in. Have you written one hour each day? Do you miss the time if you don’t write? Are you thinking about your novel on off hours?

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, First Line, Kyra, Life, Plot, Writing Marathon, writing process

Writing Challenge, Monday Hint

Did you get your goal number of words for last week?

Did you write everyday?

Have you five hours writing logged?

Is your goal where you can see it?

Hint: Do not stare into the sun during the eclipse. Damage can occur in moments.

Another hint: Do not sing Total Eclipse of the Heart. CORNY!

(Now I will have to sing that dumb song. I will change the words to Turn around blind eyes in case one of you looks at the eclipse today.)

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Plot, Revision, Voice, Writing Marathon, writing process

Three Thing Thursday

 

Today was a little bit harder than yesterday. I didn’t  get writing as soon as I would have liked to, and then family was here. I do have a super cute baby living in my house.

Hint: stick to the schedule you set up for yourself. Perhaps you will be able to make this writing time for the next 30 or so days into a real habit.

Hint: write the title of this book you’re working on a 3 x 5 card. Use block letters. Post this title where you can see it every time you sit down to work on your book.

Wrasslers Gals

by

Carol Lynch Williams

If I see this every single time I sit down to work, I can imagine this middle grade novel coming to life, being printed, and finding its way into the hands of little girls.

Do this with you WIP.

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Kyra, Plot, Uncategorized, Writers Block, Writing Marathon, writing process