Musing on external conflict in my own writing

I’ve always known that writing conflict–real conflict, I mean, rather than the sort that can be classified as melodrama–is a weak point of mine. It’s mostly because I tend to be character-oriented rather than situation-oriented, but I think there’s also a part of me that just shies away from real conflict, from events that might in some way break my characters.

They’re my babies! I don’t want to kill, harm, or otherwise maim my children.

This was something that I realized after I read Hunger Games, and is one of the reasons that I ended up loving the series so much, despite being largely uninterested in the third book: Suzanne Collins helped me to realize that I am afraid of breaking my characters. She helped me realize that, because I am afraid of this, I will never write something that is as heart-wrenching as Hunger Games was for me.

It was a breakthrough! I decided then and there: the next story I write, I am going to kill my children. Metaphorically, definitely, maybe literally as well. I am going to make them psychologically different by the end of the story, by way of bad shit happening.

But I didn’t. I wrote Relativity and nothing like that happened. I was (and am) largely dissatisfied with the story because of that; it was supposed to be significant, but it ended up just flopping when I got to that part, because I had no idea how to write it and so the characters squirmed out at the last minute.

I guess this is where I get in trouble for not being the kind of writer who plans ahead. 99% of the time when I start a story, I have no idea where it is going. I have no idea of the ending. Rarely do I even know what the story is about. All I have, most of the time, are the characters.

They’re the most important part of the story, in the end, but I am just not good at creating external conflict. I feel like that fact weakens my own writing a lot.

I am hoping that with writing the Lin story with Penny K. Moss, I will be able to get a little better at creating external conflict, ’cause she’s superb at that shit. But I still need to be good at writing that on my own.

And the only way to get good at it is to write more! My official word count for November is 93,349 words, for Pete’s sake, I’d better be good at the making myself write part by now. Even though at the moment I am still slightly burnt out from writing ninety-three thousand words; I haven’t written in a week.

Except for that little bit with Koit an Atlas. Hmm. Why not?

I do always try to go with inspiration wherever it shows up. /Loooooks at Koit and Atlas. C’mere, you two. Bring Sera with you, and we’ll see about Riley on the way.


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