Using Conflict to Move Your Story Forward
NaNoWriMo is about to begin, and for some of us, that means it’s about time to start a whole new project. Even though I am writing most of the time, there is certainly something about the energy of NaNoWriMo that gets me motivated.
Maybe it’s that feeling that comes from following the #nanowrimo hashtag on Twitter and seeing how many writers are actively talking about their work, or maybe it’s something even more powerful than that: the feel of the muses running around like crazy all over the planet.
Then again, sometimes it feels like there’s no inspiration at all, and that can be really frustrating. Writing prompts can really help you to think of new ideas for your characters, settings, and other story elements, and adding conflict to the mix will yield some interesting results. Sometimes brainstorming a new scene for your character can lead to a whole new story thread, or at least a better and deeper understanding of who your character is as a person.
Conflict as a prompt for character development
They say nothing shows someone’s true character like conflict, so it’s important to get your characters into sticky situations to see how they handle themselves. Imagine something that your character feels strongly about and put them in a situation that tests that feeling. (For example, a Muggle who hates magic is suddenly given her wizard nephew to care for and protect.) Write the scene where your character is first introduced to this conflict that challenges their beliefs, paying special attention to how they act and what they say.
Conflict as a writing prompt for plot development
One of the biggest problems writers notice with their early drafts is a lack of conflict, but conflict is incredibly important to the plot. It’s the thing that makes a story move. Take a scene that is conflict minimal and hit it all the way up to a ten. Set characters against each other! Burn bridges! Make people mad! Creating emotional moments for your readers is the very thing that will keep those pages turning. And you can always scrap a scene if it doesn’t work out, as long as you remember to learn from the experience.
Share your scenes
If you try one of these prompts, share your scene with me! (You can use the Novlr “sharing” link to share it with me! Feel free to create a new novel for these writing exercises so you can keep them all in one place). I can’t wait to hear how adding conflict works to give your story that added punch you need.