October 1, 2019

Cartoon of bull and a bullfighter who hates conflict

I saw an announcement recently for a class on how to write conflict into your stories. The description said something along the lines of how as writers, we often want to protect our characters from any type of conflict.

Um. No, I don’t.

Anyone who’s read my books knows that the last thing I want is for my characters to have an easy time of it. I love putting them through the wringer. I’d be bored stiff without conflict in my stories. It’s more interesting to me to see characters struggle through situations that challenge them mentally, morally, emotionally, and physically.

A selection of cartoon explosions

Not only that, but life-and-death situations are a quick, direct way to force my characters to dig deep within themselves and find the strength to make the changes they need to become better versions of themselves. To become characters who not only deserve to survive but deserve a Happily Ever After with their beloved.

Conflict is also at the heart of all the books I love to read. Books that have plenty of conflict yet end with the bad guys being brought to justice and the good guys prevailing. Books that make me bite my nails because I’m afraid of how much the characters might lose before they achieve victory. Those are the books that I read over and over again.

Yet I have writer friends who don’t want to hurt their characters even by giving them a hard day. Some of these writers then go on to complain about editors who insist that they need conflict in their books. I can’t imagine writing, never mind reading, a book without conflict.

So embrace the conflict! Let’s make those characters earn their happy endings.

What about you? What level of conflict do you enjoy writing or reading about?

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