Friday, April 3, 2015

A to Z Challenge: C is for Conflict

Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.

C is for Conflict!

So how do you edit conflict, you ask? 

By asking questions. One thing my writing group is fantastic about is making sure that every chapter I give them has enough conflict in it. I always think my chapters serve a purpose, of course, but sometimes I don't put enough of the conflict the character is experiencing in a particular scene the first time through. When I edit, I have to go back through and make sure that the reader can feel the conflict in every scene.

So follow these steps to edit conflict: 

1) Ask yourself, what is conflict for this chapter? Man vs. man/nature/himself/etc. Figure out what it is for every character in the scene.

2) What are OODs for each character? OOD stands for Object of Desire. Each character should have a literal OOD (something they are actually trying to gain/accomplish such as throwing the One Ring into Mordor's fires, locating the chamber of secrets, winning a crush's heart, etc.) and a figurative OOD (world peace, happiness, power/wealth, etc). For more on OODs, see this post.

Conflict (Source)
3) Ask yourself if this chapter is helping to accomplish or move toward the OODs and resolution of the conflict? If not, make sure it is. Change the chapter so that it is helping your character aim for his/her goals. Throw the conflict (whatever stands in the way of obtaining the OODs) in for good measure, and you'll have a very compelling scene.

4) Ask how you can enhance the conflict. How can you make it more human, more compelling, more heart pounding? For example, if the conflict in your scene is all presented internally, through thought, could you change the scene so that it came out as a conversation or even altercation between two characters? Can you up the stakes, show more raw emotion from the character, throw in some action get more adrenaline into the conflict?

If you can ask and answer these questions, and improve your scene accordingly, you will have edited the conflict in your story so that it grips your reader and doesn't let go.

How do you convey conflict in your writing?


  1. I tend to just keep piling on stuff, making it even more difficult for the characters to reach their goals. Sometimes the conflict is internal and yeah, have to find a way to physically show it.

    1. I feel ya. My plots tend to be super-complicated. One of the biggest critiques I get from my writing group is that I need to simply things. LOL. Thanks Alex!

  2. Rembering to give a characters - all the te characters a goal and desire all the time is important. I often find myself with a week chapter where it seems like the characters are just spinning their wheels, and it's usually because I'm too focused on plot or exposition points, and I've forgotten why the characters are there and why they're doing what they're doing. Thy need to serve their own purpose as well.

  3. True. My daughter is mad about clocks and I told her I would put a scene about clocks into my WIP. She just about did not leave me alone (conflict) for a second until I wrote a scene (with more conflict) about whether or not the clock tower should be modernized. She quite enjoys writing herself, although I guess you would classify it as fantasy genre, since most of her characters are wolves which also have a human form and a clock form. :O)

    1. Wolves with a clock form. Interesting. You should inspire her to write that.