This is a guest article by Erin Scott. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.
Conflicts are vital—they bring the thrilling tide in stories. They bring pressure and tension that make your story worth reading—the so-called engine that keeps your novel running in your reader’s senses.
Without conflict, your story fails.
How do you craft a conflict of a story that not only triggers emotions but also creates an impact? Here are simple tips:
Forge fear on your character.
Childhood trauma, separation from a loved one, fear of loss, death—inject a fearful element that pushes your character to go beyond his or her control. Conflict has more impact if it breaks the sanity and belief of your character. It makes your hero vulnerable, which makes him more realistic and believable for the audience.
Fear is something which readers can relate with. And for your book, it’s the ultimate ingredient for a compelling story plot that adds internal or external conflict.
Add tough scenarios.
How can you make readers interested in characters? The answer is simple: you have to let your main characters fail in their task, you have to make things tough for them. Their goal shouldn’t be easy to achieve. If it is achieved, it should only have been done so after heroic efforts. If you do this as a writer, the result will be that readers will remember every anguish and agony of their favorite character. But before you want to let this happen, make sure your readers are emotionally attached to the character.
Compose opposing characters and goals.
Heighten your story’s conflict through giving your characters differing drive, purpose, and attitude. Use these conflicting elements to clash and start a battle of their own viewpoints. Within the story, these elements may indirectly be revealed on the character’s actions, but somehow, will break loose once they’re desperate enough to stand on their own convictions.
Catch the timing.
Pick the right atmosphere. Find the most unexpected or the worst times that double the battles and struggles in your conflict. As when the moment your character feels sound and safe, plunge him/her into an unexpected twist—for an opportunity to reveal the hero’s true character.
Keep your character on the edge.
What will happen next? Tension is built upon a series of conflicts. Test your protagonist against his or her beliefs. Put him or her at risk, and you’ll have a story packed with thrilling scenes. Don’t always put them in the zone that’s too comfortable and passive. Keep the plot interesting and surprising.
Even though you like your character, don’t be afraid to throw him at the creek. Nevertheless, you can have the chance to find possible ways to heal him. Build conflicts, not crises, and your story will invite more readers.
Fuel your story with “what ifs”.
“What if” questions can creatively help you generate great conflict ideas. These questions will offer infinite possibilities and can branch out unique scenarios for your story. What if the main character befriends the antagonist? What if instead of there being man versus man conflict, it’s man versus himself?
Never stay in the comfort zone. Always take the risks, and try any conflict ideas you like, no matter how boring or dull they may seem. If the result is superb, then keep it. But if it doesn’t, try another one.
Lastly, always remember your readers.
Setting a conflict is more complicated than you think. Identify and understand who your readers are and know what interests them most. Propelling conflicts without the intended readers in mind will result to a messy plot.
Understand that there are preferred genres that work for younger readers, but may not work for the older ones. Acknowledge their interests, and research on what topics can relate to them.
About the author: Erin Scott is a book publishing and marketing specialist at LitFire Publishing, a company based in Atlanta GA which envisions helping more authors transform their manuscripts into top-quality books, and provides personalized marketing and distribution support to help authors become contenders in today’s very competitive market. Follow Erin on Twitter at @erinscottlf or read more of her tips at http://blog.litfirepublishing.com.