No Pain, No Gain: Putting Conflict to Work in Your Stories

No story moves without conflict. No characters change without conflict. It’s at the heart of any storytelling—from romances to mysteries, and from mainstream fiction to fairytales—and yet many writers shy away from it. We like our characters too much to make their lives miserable. That attitude can derail our storytelling. Laura defines conflict as anything and everything that keeps the viewpoint character(s) from accomplishing his or her goal. In this session, she will provide techniques for increasing conflict in every scene and across the scope of the story or novel. She presents a five-step process for doing this: (1) defining the viewpoint character’s goals and needs in each scene, (2) providing internal and/or external opposition to those goals, (3) giving the illusion of progress, (4) surprising with disappointment and setbacks, and (5) working with a “What Could Be Worse?” mind-set. She'll also discuss how creating characters with conflict-rich relationships and goals can get your story off to a fast start and keep the conflict humming through the “sagging middle” of a novel.