A popular post from March 2008
by Heather Moore
Before reading Jack Bickham’s book The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, I assumed that conflict in a novel was anything that stopped the character on his or her path. Anything that went wrong, anything that “conflicted” basically.
According to Bickham, conflict is simply defined as “a struggle between story people with opposing goals.” (25)
Conflict is NOT, he says, “bad luck or adversity. It isn’t fate.” Yes, these may play a part in your book too, but your character doesn’t try to reason with it or confront it.
“Conflict . . . is a fight with another person.” Not necessarily a physical fight, but a fight at some level.
Bickham recommends the following to bring true conflict into your story (26):
1. Make sure two characters are involved.
2. Give them opposing goals.
3. Put them onstage now.
4. Make sure both are motivated to struggle against each other now.