Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday's Writing Question!

Before I start with today's writing question I have to say something. I just found a dead spider floating in my coffee. Yes, a spider. I nearly sipped that sucker right down. OMG! What the??!! I love this gorgeous weather. It's sunny, warm, and I've been writing, exercising, cleaning house, leaving windows open, and generally just getting caught up on things. It feels great! But, spiders always come out this time of year. Dang it. My biggest fear in the world and they're ruining my good mood! Guh!

Okay, I feel better. LOL Now, onto the topic.

Today I want to talk about fighting. Specifically your heroes and heroines fighting. One of my biggest problems when writing is conflict. My husband tells me that I need to add more conflict into my stories. He's right. I've been working on this lately too. One of the main reasons is because conflict makes the story more real. The characters have more depth. Let's face it, life and our relationships aren't all roses and sunshine. We argue with our spouses. We have difficulties with our sisters, brothers, parents. Life is a rollercoaster ride. In truth, some of the best books I've read have been filled with conflict.

A few examples.

"Dark Desire" by Christine Feehan. The story starts with conflict. The hero pretty much hates the heroine. Blames her for something she didn't do. He's injuried. She has all this emotional baggage. And from page one I couldn't put it down.

Any story by Nalini Singh, but most esp. her Hunters Guilde series. There is so much conflict, emotion, and just general drama in the first two books that I'm either crying, laughing, or sighing. Singh has a great mix of passion and drama.

This isn't to say that we should cry all the way through a book. Definitely that's NOT what romance is all about. But, getting Dick and Jane from that first meeting to that happily-ever-after should be a bumpy ride. So the big question is how do you realistically add conflict to your stories? Like sex, it shouldn't be thrown in just for fun. It should flow with the plot. One way that I've discovered that seems to be working for me is to either write up a short outline or synopsis before starting the story. Then I print it out and look it over, or have my husband look it over. If he sees I'm falling into that same old trap of happy happy happy, then he lets me know and I alter things a bit. This way, I'm not having to make huge revisions at the end.

For those pantsers--I can see you all cringing--this doesn't mean you have to write up a ten page document or anything. This is more like a few sentences for each chapter or scene. Just a little something to give yourself a guide. Personally I need that guide. Otherwise it's all smiles and that's just NOT what readers want.

That's how I've worked out this problem. How do you ensure there's plenty of conflict in your stories? Do you have a method that works well? If so, share it!

P.S.--Look before you sip! LOL


Jolie Cain said...

I love a good conflict. Dark Desires is one of my favorites.

Jake - but not the one said...

I think you have to have the central conflict in a story in mind when you start writing the story. Whether you are a pantser or an outliner, you have to know why the reader is going to care, and that caring revolves around the conflict and it's resolution.

So yay for conflict! How else are you going to hurt your hero/ine? >:)

Madison Scott said...

Yikes on the spider. Glad you looked!!

Conflict is hard some times. I struggle with it too.

Megan Rose said...

There's nothing like a huge argument in a story...because just like in real life, the make-up sex is usually pretty hot :)

Anne Rainey said...

Jolie--I read that one so many times! Loved that book!

Jake--My biggest problem is I don't want to see them hurting. I need to toughen up! (big surprise there, lol)

Anne Rainey said...

Madison--And to think I nearly drank it! Ick!

Megan--Oooh, what a great point! Hot make-up sex. Or--and sometimes this is better--hot angry sex. LOL

Bekki Lynn said...

spiders -- ick - not seen them yet, but the ants showed up the other day.

I know I always say this, but I let the characters control the story - they insist. It's pointless for me to have something in mind when I start a story.

However, I do check them when I feel they are off base. I like to look at both sides and the situation to make sure it's a valid argument, but even in real life, usually the arguments couples have are stupid and senseless. Why shouldn't characters have them, too. Within reason of course. Like us, they only see their side and stand their ground on it.

I love realism in stories.