Monday, January 8, 2018

I hate conflict!

One of my story-telling goals this year is to make my writing better. I mean, a writer should always be striving to improve his or her writing, so yeah. There's a best-selling, 60+ novels-to-her-name author in my writers group who said in a conversation several months ago that she still works to improve her writing. She's been at this for close to twenty years. If she's still working at it, then I, sure-as-shootin', should be too.

So the questions become--a) improve in what area? and b) how?

I had a vague notion last year and I tried to work on it, but I didn't stick with it. Not that it's an excuse, really, but there was a lot going on and I let my efforts fall by the wayside. I think the issue is intrinsically intertwined with the struggles I've been having in getting the last couple of books written.

So that means I need to figure something out. And quickly.

First thing I figured out is what I need to work on: plotting and conflict. I hate conflict in real life.

I know, I know, who does? Most of you deal with conflict like adults and that's a thing I struggle with. I hate it. I avoid it. I'm better now, but it's still a chore to communicate with the people with whom I have an issue.

So putting my hunky heroes into conflict?? Ugh.

But readers want to read about those same hunky heroes overcoming whatever obstacles stand between them and true love, not just sappy sunshine-and-rainbows-filled treacle. I prefer those kinds of books too--so there you go.

The next thing I need to figure out is where to find/how to create conflict between my heroes. I understand that conflict stems from each character: what their goal is and what baggage they carry, but beyond that, how do I determine what wounds to poke at, what paths to go down, etc. What makes for the strongest and most compelling conflict. Or how do I support the conflict I want to write about?

My options for education are blog posts (usually free), books, (generally not free), classes (generally not free), and brainstorming with others (usually free), and one-on-one consulting sessions (usually expensive).

While I love the concept of brainstorming, I don't have much success with it because I haven't yet found that one person whose thought processes gel with mine. Not that I don't ask for help, because there are still ideas to be gleaned from the effort. And maybe communicating my needs better is a skill I need to learn. But sometimes, I hate imposing on other authors to spend their valuable time on me.

Blogs are good, but sometimes the explanations or concepts are too abstract for me. Straight reading is not my best learning style. Also the posts are higher-level in concept than execution level information. Still helpful though, because adding new concepts and insights is never a bad thing. And one never knows where one will find the the switch that sheds light on everything else.

I like classes because I get a lesson. Information as well as homework and, most importantly, someone to explain more if I don't grasp something. There's also someone to evaluate my efforts and give me feedback.

I took a class last year that I'd love to take again. So I've contacted the author and asked if she's offering it anywhere this year. *fingers crossed*

But coming at an issue (how to develop/build conflict in books) from various viewpoints is a good thing, so I'll keep my eyes open for additional class opportunities on how to write conflict better.

I'm not opposed to books either, but, like blogs, they can be a bit abstract. And they're not cheap, so it could take a lot of frogs, I mean books, until I find something that resonates and makes sense to me. That would get expensive very quickly.

I certainly can't afford a consultation with a professional author--yet. But my writing group is putting together some programs, so maybe I'll get lucky and win a session of some sort or another.

For now, I'll be Google-searching blog posts and using tools already in my toolbox to plot out books 7, 8, and 9.

Wish me luck!

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