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Beth Rodgers

Conflict in Writing

Conflict in Writing by Author Beth Rodgers

Conflict sells. Whether you are reading a book, watching TV, or viewing a movie, if everything is happy-go-lucky all the time, there isn’t much reason to keep reading or watching as you probably aren’t wondering what will happen next. People thrive off of twists and turns. They want mystery, suspense, and indecision. They desire friction, as it escalates plotlines, enhances character development, and reinforces the age-old quest for sheer entertainment. We live in an “entertainment culture,” if I do say so myself. People seek entertainment because it stimulates their senses. It excites their emotions, and it offers something in place of predictability.

Despite the wish for a happy ending – and believe me, I ooh and aah with the best of them for one of those – trials, tribulations, and all those annoying adversaries must come out of the woodwork to make that happy ending all the more magical. If you’re a writer, spice up your stories with it. Make a young girl the object of ridicule and rejection, only to make her all the more deserving of being crowned homecoming queen. Capture the angst of a restaurant owner who can’t seem to drum up any business until a famous celebrity eats there one day and publicizes the homemade apple pie as the best he’s ever tasted. Every story you’ve read, movie you’ve seen, or TV show you’ve watched, if it is any good, has some sort of conflict in it. Even if you don’t notice it at first glance, look again – it is there. Someone may have a problem with someone else. It may be a squabble at the cash register about the price of cereal. A fight may break out as a result. There are so many options. Use them as a guide to crafting your own.

Writers seek involvement with the subject matter they are reading. So too should readers. It is important that readers know how to pinpoint what the conflict is, when it started, where it escalated, and how it ended. This will make the reading journey all that much more enjoyable and profound so that when you move on to other works, you can appreciate them all the more for the conflict that interests and fuels your reading desire.

Freshman Fourteen by Beth RodgersMy novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ incorporates a lot of conflict early on especially, as I felt it quite necessary to make main character Margot’s journey through freshman year as difficult as possible at the start. In my mind, that would make her that much more worthy of going through the journey to get past all of the troubles she had. They serve to make her a stronger, more purposeful character.

Anything can be construed as conflict. Even writer’s block (or reader’s block, when you don’t know what to pick as your next read) is a conflict. Use the examples above to resolve this and master your own writing and reading techniques.


Want more from Beth? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Beth on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Beth Rodgers.

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ABCs of Writing: Part 1

ABCs1

Written by
Beth Rodgers

When learning to write, we start with our ABCs.  They provide components that make writing easier.  Peruse the following words and explanations about how to use the alphabet to promote your writing craft; then check back next month for the rest of the alphabet!

Ammunition.  My reservoir of writing techniques serves as my ammunition to get the ball rolling.  I work to come up with new ideas to share with myself as I work on my writing.  Ammunition does not only have to be construed negatively.  People hear it and think of guns and violence.  However, in this case, it’s meant as the driving force behind my writing.  Each new idea I consider is part of the ammunition I’ve made a stockpile of as I pen my thoughts.

Bravery.  I’m not afraid to take risks.  I want to stand out and make my writing shine.  I make a point of including conflict to make endings more magical.  My characters struggle through dilemmas and emotions; they also consider ways to overcome struggles.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, and that’s what makes for more emotional, substantial details that lend themselves well to pulling at readers’ heartstrings and making them feel deeply for my characters.

Collection.  I have a large collection of books, poetry, websites, etc. I use when I feel stuck.  I read books in my chosen genre, and I make a point of learning more about authors by analyzing why they chose to write a certain way, why they made their characters act certain ways, etc.  It is important to see the paths others have taken in order to learn the craft well.

Decisions.  Making decisions can be hard, not only in life, but in writing.  Even when writing fiction, the reality of the writing must set in as you embrace the lives of the characters and realize you must make decisions that affect the outcomes of their lives.  Remember that creating conflict isn’t the worst thing, as there must be some sense of urgency throughout your writing in order to make it realistic.  You might have your readers suspend disbelief, but you also might want them to feel grounded in reality.  Pick your moments wisely, and make the most of your writing as you do.

Energy.  Never lose the vivacity and excitement you have when you begin writing something.  Stay on the writing rollercoaster, and let it take you on all the twists and turns it can.

Freedom.  Write to your heart’s content.  You can write a novel-in-verse or a short story that chronicles the top news headline.  You can write an idea for a unique TV pilot.  You are at liberty to make revisions, additions, and concessions within your writing until it’s to your satisfaction.

Gravity.  Stay grounded.  Even if you are writing fantasy or science fiction, don’t go so far as to be totally unbelievable.  You want to convey comprehension, and this may be lacking if you get too into ridiculous notions that readers aren’t apt to understand.  If you do choose to write silly, ridiculous stories or poems, great!  Just make sure the context is right.  Don’t write in this way if you haven’t prefaced your work to make it comprehensible.

Happiness.  Enjoy what you write.  Laugh at your jokes.  Employ descriptive words and phrases.  If you’re not happy with your writing, how can you expect anyone else to be?  Obviously, concessions can be made if you feel it’s for the best, but you’re the one doing what you love.  Make it a happy experience.  The rest will fall into place.

Instinct.  Use your instincts.  Intuition is a strong tool, and if you feel something is right or wrong for your story, trust yourself.  However, it can’t hurt to make a note of what you choose not to include, as you never know how it might come in handy in the future.  If you don’t write it down, you’re more likely to forget it.  Keep all your thoughts, as you never know when they might become useful and creatively stimulating in a way you never considered.

Jello.  This may sound silly, but when you make jello, you leave it in the refrigerator for a while before it becomes solid.  Until this happens, it’s liquid.  At that stage, it is not ready to eat, but when it takes on a more solid form, it becomes edible and tasty.  The same is true of writing (except the edible, tasty part – unless you’re thinking metaphorically).  Your writing needs to be worked on before it can become a solid structure.  You want to make sure you focus on all details necessary to make your work well-rounded.

Kin.  Work on characters.  Outline their physical characteristics and personalities.  The way someone acts is equally, if not more, important in some instances than the way he or she looks.  A character’s personality can be equated to someone readers know, and this will give them a vision of what they think the character looks like.

Lifestyle.  Writing should be a part of your daily lifestyle.  It is one of the most important ideas that gives creative license to write what you know and love.  Learn to think outside the box and see the world, your writing, your characterization, your emotions, and everything else in new, glorious ways.  Let your lifestyle become your motivation to notice more.

Market.  Be sure you market your writing appropriately.  Don’t attempt to sell a children’s fairy tale to an adult romance publisher.  Also, set your sights on the right demographic.  Consider who will read it.  Be certain that the words and phrases you use are at least somewhat specific to that demographic so you meet the needs of the people you’re most trying to impress.

More ABCs are forthcoming next month, but as you learn your own writing alphabet, consider the possibilities I’ve already presented.  There are so many places to go with your own writing; you just have to keep your eyes open.

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