Remember the Conflict

I woke this morning with the horrible realization that yesterday’s writing had been all wrong. I wrote a scene that was supposed to have been the big emotional turning point in which a key piece of information was revealed to one of the characters. It was supposed to be so shocking that it changed the way she saw one of the other characters and made her question her dealings with him. In a previous draft of this book, I’d tried to put this revelation too early in the story, but it was a dramatic scene in which the villain tried to force this revelation by creating a situation that made the character do something that he then had to explain, and then the other character had to react. But since I’d put it too early, they didn’t have enough of a relationship established for it to have that big of an impact.

Moving it much later in the story had a different effect. They’d built up some trust, but that meant I wrote it as just a conversation, and the reaction was simply, “Oh, that explains a lot.” No real emotional impact, no shock. No decision point. I’d completely skipped the turning point scene.

At least I did figure it out before I wrote any further, so I can fix it, and I’ve figured out how to fix it. I think the new version will be much better even than what I had originally planned because there’s more trust to have been broken. Since I realized this so quickly rather than on a later draft, I guess I haven’t entirely forgotten how to write. I think I was just being conflict averse. There’s so much conflict and tension in the world right now that I want these characters to like each other and get along. But fiction needs conflict. It’s hard to have a story where absolutely nothing bad happens. Even a book that’s being called the cozy fantasy has some bad stuff happening and some conflict.

So now I’m writing an angsty bit, and there will probably be a lot of chocolate consumed while I work on it. And I will need to put sticky notes around my desk saying “remember conflict.”

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