Conflict Sabotage

February 24, 2012

One of my weaknesses with writing is creating sustainable conflict. It’s not that I don’t have any conflict, I just tend to let my characters work things out a little too soon, a little too easily. It’s taken me a while to realize that. I knew I had issues with conflict, but I thought the problem was the conflict itself. I’m finally learning the problem is not the planned conflict, it’s what I do with that conflict when I’m writing.

I credit this lightbulb moment to the best writing advice my CP has given me (thus far): make sure you don’t neuter the conflict too soon.

That word “neuter” is perfect, because the conflict is there, I just tend to “fix it.” In my current WIP, I had the characters all but get over ten years of ill will in the first chapter. Which is when my CP emailed me the above sage advice. Then, as I was working on chapter three, I realized I was doing the SAME thing. Undercutting that conflict, making the characters get along too fast, too soon. I had to rewrite it three times before I got the right amount of forward progress without ‘neutering’ the conflict.

I think this is a great example of how feedback and advice can be given again and again, but until you have it expressed to you the right way at the right time, it just won’t stick. I’ve had comments and feedback on my lack of conflict before, but I didn’t grasp the real problem I was having with conflict until now.

So, my advice to you, if you keep getting the same feedback/advice, try to look at it in a different, broader way. Maybe the issue is not something you’re doing in the plotting stage, maybe it’s something you’re doing in the writing stage, or vice-versa.

Nicole

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One Response to “Conflict Sabotage”

  1. plaintain1 Says:

    I hear you. It’s the same for myself. Added to that, the feedback I get is that there is no proper plot or structure in place – and I just don’t see it.

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