Sunday, March 29, 2020

How to Turn Your Idea into a Story: More Conflict! #amwriting #writing

Here are a few more tips on setting up conflict, following the lesson from last time:

• What does your main character want? What does he need? Make these things different, and you'll add tension to the story. It can be as simple as our soccer player who wants to practice soccer, but needs to study. Or it could be more subtle, like someone who wants to be protected but needs to learn independence. 

In the Haunted books, Jon wants to be a regular kid, and fit in, but needs to protect his sister – who gets him into trouble and embarrassing situations. This increases the tension and gives the reader sympathy for my main character. 

For a more detailed explanation of character want versus need, exploring the movie ET as an example, see my brother Doug Eboch’s Let's Schmooze blog on Screenwriting, E.T. Analysis Part 11.

• Even if your main problem is external (man versus man or man versus nature), consider giving the character an internal flaw(man versus himself) that contributes to the difficulty. 

For a few examples of internal flaws, see the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. 

Perhaps your character has a temper, or is lazy, or refuses to ever admit she’s wrong. This helps set up your complications, and as a bonus makes your character seem more real. 

• Before you start, test the idea. Change the character’s age, gender, or looks. Change the point of view. Change the setting. Change the external conflict. Change the internal conflict. 

What happens? Choose the combination that has the most dramatic potential. 

For example, one work in progress started with two female cousins visiting. I changed one into a boy, and added a girl friend next door, which made for nice boy/girl tension behind the main plot.

Take a Step toward Publication – get a critique from Chris

Novels: $2 per page (standard manuscript format/​double-spaced) for general editorial comments (plot/​character/​flow/​language notes). This provides a 4 to 6 page editorial letter, plus notes written on the manuscript. Minimum $100.
Picture Books up to 1200 words: $50

Email me through the contact page on my website. A sample critique letter and recommendations are available on request.

Do you need help analyzing a plot? Download The Plot Outline Exercise from Advanced Plotting in a form you can edit and reuse! (For more about Advanced Plotting, scroll down.)
Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Learn more or read excerpts at or visit her page on Amazon or Amazon UK. (For other countries click here.)

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