Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tension and Conflict


 

"Our instinct as human beings is to provide answers, to ease tension. As writers our job is the opposite, to create tension and not dispel it immediately."
~ Sol Stein
"Plot conflict is not conflict merely in a character's mind or soul, while he sits at home. A plot conflict has to be expressed in action. The more struggle a story involves, the better the plot."
~ Ayn Rand 
 
It took me a few years to fully embrace the "kill your darlings" (or at least make them miserable) philosophy. Once I did, once I really amped it up and layered on more action and misery, then I finally got my agent. But it took me 3 freaking years to really do it--even though I knew I should. I never did it enough. MORE is BETTER.

So . . . how miserable are your characters?
Are you being too nice?

22 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

There are definitely areas that I have to constantly work at and being cruel to characters is def. on the list along with a zillion other things!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, I have the tendency to be too nice to my characters. That's why it's taken me years to finish my manuscript. You're right. It's important not to be nice to them and to ramp up the tension.

Jen Daiker said...

I think I'm the one who's miserable. I loved the first quote, and your paragraph really resonated with me. Maybe I'm not being tough enough on my characters. Maybe the angst is weak. I think this week I'll free write and see what I can't come up with. After all, pain and perserverence pays off!

Kenda Turner said...

Great quotes :-) And perfect food for thought for the day's work ahead. Thanks!

DL Hammons said...

Let's see...one gets blown up by a grenade, another is beaten into a coma, a third is put in professional jeopardy. I think I'm good! :)

Miranda Hardy said...

I don't have problems with conflict, that's for sure. Lol

Old Kitty said...

Oooh no I love my characters suffering!! LOL!! Oh the power! LOL! Take care
x

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

The harder they fall, the stronger they become if they can pick themselves up again.

I like knowing the hero is going to win in a book, but there needs to be enough tension to keep me guessing HOW it will happen.

Jemi Fraser said...

I finally tossed an entire story that didn't work because I couldn't be mean enough to the characters! They kept rescuing themselves far too often! :)

Heather said...

It took me a while too I have to admit. But once I did embrace it, the whole game changed, for the better!

Barbara Watson said...

Great point! And such an excellent question to keep in mind throughout a manuscript, "Am I being too nice?" Many times I am being too nice...

Mary Mary said...

Conflict -- The more the merrier!

Theresa Milstein said...

Great quotes!

I think I'm pretty mean to my characters. I make them clueless, they make stupid mistakes, bad guys are after them, and so on. When things come around later--they've learned some lessons and defeat the bad guys--that's the payoff.

Carolyn V said...

Yes. *hanging head in shame* I need to kill more of my darlings. But it's so hard! ;p

Meredith said...

I tend to cut out over half of my book when I revise, but I still feel like I'm too nice to my darling scenes. Always room for improvement, I suppose!

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

I could be meaner. Story of my life.
Write on!

Play off the Page

Elle Strauss said...

This is exactly what I needed as I head back into my wip. Thanks!

akossket said...

I've been pretty mean to my characters lately but I think I can always learn a better way to be mean to them. Of course this is all for a good cause :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

It took me a long time to realize this too, but I threw my MC in my latest book under the bus. And the chariot. And the horse.

Poor girl!

Misha Gericke said...

Oh each of my characters have their special little miseries, but this is only the beginning.

Wait for the sequel. ;-P

Elana Johnson said...

I used to, and now I'm not. Also, I love Sol Stein. The man changed my life on pacing.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is why I lOVE being a writer. [insert evil grin here] :D

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