Deborah Herald-Managing Editor, Amira Press
Life isn't without conflict, so why should your novel be? In fact, conflict is essential in a novel. It is what makes
a reader want to turn the pages of your book. It is with the resolution of conflict that character growth happens and your
readers read the last page with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
One type of conflict is internal. This is something that is within your character. One example of this is a character
that has been hurt by a man in one fashion or another. Another man enters the picture and she finds herself falling for him.
Before she can truly love him, she has to resolve the inner conflict created by the pain her ex caused her.
Another type of conflict is external conflict. A great example of this can be seen in many historical novels where the
Dukes and Lords fall in love with a person not of impeccable lineage. Or the white woman in love with the Native American
man. Ultimately, these external conflicts must be solved for the hero and heroine to be together.
In a novel, a good combination of both internal and external conflict is necessary in order to insure not only an interesting
plot line but growth of the characters. When a reader picks up your book, they want to see real people with real conflicts
that can be solved. This is what will keep your readers turning page after page.
When writing conflict be aware that the word does not refer to arguments and misunderstandings. Although that is conflict,
it is not enough to sustain a plot line or develop character growth.
A trick that I use when writing the highest impact scenes of conflict is to try to write them when I am feeling my most
emotional. This provides me an outlet for emotions through my characters and ultimately brings characters to life. This is
important for giving your readers a sense of reality when reading your novel.
A person buys a book because they want to escape their world. Their problems become less important as they become engrossed
in the lives of your characters. With a good balance of both internal and external conflict, you can sweep readers into another
world and give them what they hoped for when they opened your book ¬¬ a sense of fulfillment. And that ultimately is what
writing is all about.