By Cheri Chesley
I woke up Monday with a plan. I love having a plan. It makes me feel better to have a sure direction.
Then I woke up today. Dang it, my wonderful plan hit a snag.
It strikes me that, as we write, this is the sort of thing our characters face. We all know reading a book where the character's life is happy and nothing really bad happens is boring--even if we sometimes wish life would be like that. But, just as in life, there can be no growth without conflict. Another reason I'm a big fan of free agency.
Some of my favorite ways to introduce conflict to a story are: a new character come into the scene, a sudden event occurs (death, car accident, etc). Sometimes conflict comes quietly, such as a character receiving a letter, but the fallout from the event is life changing for that character. Maybe the letter reveals a long-held family secret.
Of course, we must be careful that our events are believable. When I wrote my first story, I didn't feel much like I was in charge of events. I had developed characters that were "real" to me, and just let them choose what do to. Those choices led to consequences that led to other events where they had to make a choice. I think that's part of the reason my first manuscript ended up being over 400 pages. :)
What are some of your favorite ways to introduce conflict to a story?