Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writing A Novel: Finding The Conflict

One of the great things about having writer friends is that they'll help you view your own work in another way. Take my good friend, Amy. She's a really talented middle grade novelist and always have something constructive to tell me about my books.

We met earlier this week and shared some issues and concerns that we're having with our latest works in progress. One of her characters plays flute so she had a lot of music questions for me. I then read aloud the beginning of my most recent chapter.

"That sounds like a lot of information, a lot of exposition," she noted as soon as I'd finished reading. "I think that it would work better if you wove that information into a conversation between the main character and her mom."

At the time I wasn't so sure that I agreed, but decided to try it. And you know what? She was absolutely right! The section flows a lot better, plus I added in a really nice scene that highlights the close relationship between Sadie and her mother. In this case, Amy was right on the money.

Amy also had some general advice for me that's really made me think. She explained that whenever she comes up with a plot or situation, she tries to deepen the conflict; she doesn't want an easy answer. In other words, she doesn't want stuff to happen without examining how each character is affected; she really gets into the personal aspects of each situation and keeps from making things plot-driven.

I think that I do this in my writing, as well, but I liked the way that she put it. I also liked that she asked me all of these nitty-gritty questions about my characters, such as why I decided to call the male lead "Griffin" -- and I was able to answer everything! We're similar in that we put a lot of thought into our characters and their backstory and motivation. That's probably why she and I have been such close friends for so many years; because we think alike.

It's one thing to get an opinion from a friend, but I so appreciate having someone who can dissect my writing and force me to examine the details. I'm looking forward to our next brainstorming session!

Meantime, please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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