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Using Characterization for Conflict

A session with Laura Drake



I have a problem with conflict in my novels. Not big, overarching conflict, but micro conflict. If you want a page-turner, you should have conflict on every page. How do you do that in a natural, non-forced way??

An easy way is by giving essential characters opposite strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Or, give them the same ones. Think about it – in real life, you end up having problems with people who are way different than you, OR those who are a lot like you (we tend to hate the flaws in ourselves the most, right?)

I’ve been writing family stories lately, where two characters are essential to the plot. The first was a grandmother and grand daughter, my current WIP, is two sisters.

Try this, before you begin writing a new project. It might help you to not only get to know your characters, but it can help you find a way to put more conflict in your writing.

knew I used this technique, but I didn’t realize how much, until I wrote a list of what I knew about these two sisters:

CJ Maizey

Age: 25 Age: 9

Jaded Naïve

Athletic, compact build Long and bony

Self esteem/guilt issues Idolizes her older sister

Grew up with self-centered mother Ditto

Never knew her father Ditto (different father)

Lives in the real world Lives in her head

Street smart Book smart

Organized thinker Absent minded professor type




You can see how the above would make conflict on every page easy. They come from the same background, but because they think differently, and have had different experiences, they see their home life very differently. That can be a surprise to each when they discover that, as well as a source of conflict.

And the really cool thing about this, is that they can learn so much about the life they don’t have, by seeing things through their sisters’ eyes.

I love it when a plan comes together.


How do you get conflict on every page?


 

About the Author…

LAURA DRAKE's first novel, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist and then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She's since published 11 more novels. She is a founding member of Women's Fiction Writers Assn, Writers in the Storm blog, as well as a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways or serious cowboy crush. She gave up a corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.


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