Monday, January 9, 2017

Asked and Answered Part 1: Conflict and Character Arc



By Missy Tippens

Welcome to our first Asked and Answered post! Last year, we offered a survey to find out what topics our readers would like us to address in our posts. I’m kicking off the first of our four-part series today talking about two topics brought up by multiple respondents. I admit I chose the topic of conflict because it’s something I struggle with. So, writing this post has been a nice review!



First, briefly, conflict is what drives our plot. The character wants something (her goal) for a very good reason (motivation), but then something gets in her way, making it impossible to achieve that goal (creating conflict). So the character has to react to that “disaster”, make a decision about what to do next, and then act on that decision. These actions and reactions build our scenes/sequels, and thus our story.

The book that I have used most when studying internal and external conflict is the much-loved Goal, Motivation & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon. I found several posts in our archives and thought I would share those with you today, as I don’t think I can cover the basics of the topic any better.

[Please note! I want to provide new links since some of the links in these older posts no longer work. I’ll leave them at the end of my post.]

Here is one of my previous posts where I share my GMC chart for His Forever Love. I show how I usually combine a standard GMC chart with the Magic Conflict Chart from Carolyn Greene’s Prescription for Plotting Notebook (updated info at the end).

Here’s is another of my posts on the topic of using your GMC chart to help you plot out your scenes. This is a great way to incorporate the characters’ internal and external conflicts into scenes that move your story forward. (Please note this post contains spoilers if you haven’t read The Doctor’s Second Chance yet.) In the post, I have copied and pasted sections of my brainstorming file to show how I came up with scenes used in the book.

This is a post by Tina Radcliffe where she talks about the beauty of using a GMC chart and shares an example from The Rancher’s Reunion.

Here's a good basic post about conflict (what it is and what it isn't) by Janet Dean. She shares her GMC chart from The Bounty Hunter's Redemption.
http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2016/10/conflict-roadblocks-to-your-characters.html

This is a post by Cara Lynn James where she shares how important motivation is while doing your GMC chart. She uses examples from Love On a Dime.

I hope that reading these posts will be a nice refresher on creating internal and external conflict for each of your characters.

In a blog post on her website (click here), author and writing mentor K.M. Weiland tells us that conflict by itself is not enough. We need for readers to have empathy, to care about one of the characters. The character must be relatable enough that the conflict matters.


I think that for us to care about a character, we need to see the character make a journey—to battle through conflict, to grow and change and earn the happy ending. So, for the rest of my post, I want to talk about character arcs. In researching the topic, I discovered K.M. Weiland’s new how-to book that I’m finding very helpful. It is Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development.

Some things that I highlighted in this book:
-- Characters resist change.
Resistance --> Conflict --> Plot.
-- We need to figure out the misconception the character has about himself or his world, or look at what he’s lacking in his life. Once we the author knows what’s wrong, we can set him off on his journey of change.
-- There is conflict between what the character wants and what he needs.
-- The external plot is all about the character's inner journey.
-- I love one way Weiland described character arc (in chapter 21): “Character arc is always the final sum of your story’s ending minus your story’s beginning.” There are different types of character arcs, but for those of us who write romance novels, there is usually what Weiland calls a Positive Change Arc. The character goes on a journey from overcoming a lie he believes in the beginning of the story to making a positive change by the end so that he’s in a better place, a place of truth.



That’s all I’ll share for now. Weiland’s book Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development is packed full of information!


To finish up, I wanted to share some other blog posts about character arcs that you might find helpful.

This is a post by Ruth Logan Herne where she shares examples of taking our heroes on a journey.

When I asked Ruthy for more on this topic, she said:

Missy, I don't use books or charts. I use emotion. How did a hero's childhood trauma mold him? Why does he stay on the outside, looking in? Why is he dogged, determined, dedicated to being the best all day, every day? When I answer the "whys" I have my backstory.


And I do the same for the heroine.... Why does the thought of riches and money and power repel her? Why doesn't she wear super cute clothes that hug her figure? Why is she caring for 3 little kids, none of which are hers? Is she a soft touch and gullible... or is there a reason behind her sacrificial nature?


Once I know all this, writing the book becomes science and art. The science is every bit as important as the art to me: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction... and if for some reason it DOESN'T... then the story just deepened.”

Missy again...To tie together my topics of conflict and character arc, I want to share these additional resources…




Another book that I’ve found invaluable while planning my characters is Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within Plot Guide. Here is the link to a post she did for us here on our blog that is fantastic:


And from Alicia’s blog:

I wanted to share one last article from Janet Dean that I thought would be helpful because she ties story arc to character goals and conflict:

If you made it this far, thanks so much for hanging with me today! I know you had to do a lot of clicking to other pages, but I hope you found information to answer your biggest questions. We’ll answer more survey questions in future posts, so be sure to check back!

If you’d like to be entered in my giveaway today (two winners!), please let me know in the comments section which book you’re interested in. I’ll be giving away a print copy of The Story Within Plot Guide (one U.S. winner). And a second winner will receive a Kindle copy of K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs.


And now for those updated links I promised:

Prescription for Plotting by Carolyn Greene is temporarily out of print while she revises and prepares for a new edition release this year in e-book format. Yay! So please send Carolyn an email to let her know you’re interested. She’ll send you an email to let you know when the new edition is available for purchase. Carolyn [at] carolyngreene.com (be sure to type in correct format)

The Story Within Plot Guide by Alicia Rasley

GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon (this page links to different booksellers for different formats)



Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest and a 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A House Full of Hope was a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA® Nominee. Her recent releases include titles from Love Inspired as well as Indie published boxed sets with fellow Seekerville bloggers. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com, https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.


139 comments :

  1. Decaff coffee and tea is on for those visiting tonight!

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    1. Hand over the real stuff. Yawning this morning!!! :)

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    2. Pam, the fully leaded coffee is ready!

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  2. I've always said a writers mind is fascinating (or is that scary, I forget!) and the method each one uses to carve out a story is as vast as the sea! This post proves it, at least in my mind.

    As soon as I read this line and pondered on it, the more I could see it in almost all the books I've read; "The external plot is all about the character's inner journey." Never really thought of it that way! Reading about the characters inner journey--whether overcoming some tragic thing that happened in their childhood or believing a lie all their lives only to find out it wasn't a lie after all or was a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion. Watching them take that journey of self-discovery through the story is what makes me connect to them and root & cheer for them because I know in the end, they will be a better person. Truth set them free (if you will). If that makes any sense what I just said :-)
    I love learning more about how authors write and why. Fascinating stuff to this reader, really!
    No need to toss my name for the books as I am a reader not a writer. Lovely post Missy, thanks for sharing some "secrets"...lol!

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    1. Trixi, we may turn you into a writer before we know it! ;)

      Thanks for reading the post. It really is interesting to peer into writer minds. I love hearing how my favorite authors create stories!

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    2. Missy, I highly doubt that...lol! I'm no writer as I really can't see myself having the patience or persistence of writing a full length novel. I don't have stories or characters clammering for my attention in my head....that would certainly be quite scary :-)

      I used to write poems in my teens, those are much more doable. Hmmmm, maybe I could sharpen those skills and pick up my pen again...though a bit rusty I would be. I wrote one in my sophomore year of school for English class and my teacher was so impressed that she read it out loud (much to my embarrassment) and pinned it up on the wall. It was about my grandma and her garden. Since my teacher was so encouraged and impressed, I had made a copy of it on a special kind of paper,and with the help of my aunt burned the edges of the paper, lamenated it on a smooth wooden plaque and presented it to my grandma one Christmas. She hung it on her wall where it stayed for many years until she passed on about five years ago. I don't know now what happened to it, wished I did because I'd love to have it back.

      Anyway, that would be the extent of my writing, except for book reviews that is :-)

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    3. Ooops, I should say my aunt copied my poem and write it in calligraphy on special paper...I want to say it was papyrus but not sure. That's been many moons ago, lol! But I love the end result and so did my grandma :-)

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    4. Trixi, maybe you should try picking up your pen again! You might enjoy writing more poetry. That's so sweet that you gave your poem to your grandmother and that it hung on her wall for years. :)

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  3. Well you certainly have added to my purchase list on Amazon. Thank you for this concise post. It's a print it up saver, Missy.

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    1. Tina, you'll have to let me know how you like the new how-to books.

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  4. Hi Ruth:

    "Peace in the Valley" ... that doesn't sound too conflictish to me! But a singing cowboy! How wonderful. Glynna has a guitar playing singing pastor in her current book, "The Pastor's Christmas Courtship", and I really enjoy him. I have to go all the way back to Gene Autry and Roy Rogers for a good singing cowboy story. And now we have to wait so long for "Peace in the Valley." Not January, not February, not March, not even April! But MAY! Having to wait that long...that does feel like conflict!

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    1. Vince, I replied below. I forgot to use the embedded comments I love so much! FACE-PALM!!!! :)

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    2. Vince, I'm looking forward to the story, too!

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  5. Hi Missy:

    Excellent post! I love useful links. When I paste them into Word, they still work. This is a great topic for a series of posts. However, when I read "Asked and Answered", I always hear an attorney saying: "Objection! The prosecution is badgering the witness, your honor."

    Please put me in the drawing for the Kindle book.

    Also, I've been waiting (and waiting) for your next book. Anything on the horizon?

    Vince

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    1. Vince, you made me smile. I can just see the court scenario in a movie. :)

      As for on the horizon...I've had some rejections and am still working toward another sale. I do have a novella in the works for a boxed set. More to come on that later since we just now started planning it. :)

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    2. Hi Missy:

      Well, no matter how long the wait, it will always be worth it because no one puts more love of her readers in their writing than you do (IMHO). I'd even be happy reading your WIPs. I'll just go back and reread your first work which I experienced as a heartwarming earthquake. I know, I know, God's time.

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    3. Vince, I'll have to contact you later about your offer!

      Yes, in God's time! Right now I have a lot going on with some extended family, so I'm praying this is all part of God's plan.

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  6. Missy, I think I use, in a limited way, the moral premise. It's not a formal thing, it's more, I think of opposites. That old saying, "If you're hero's a fireman, your heroine had darned well better be an arsonist."
    So once I think of a side to any conflict, I immediately begin searching out the flip side.
    Nothing's more important to her than independence. He wants her ranch and her, married to him and under his roof. And he'd like her to take orders, too.
    No way to escape that clash.

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    1. Mary, that's one of the resources I use that I didn't include! Yes, it's a great way to pair up the perfect characters. :)

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  7. Missy, this is a conference class in a blog. What a wonderful bunch of links and examples. It's absolutely marvelous.

    I BROUGHT COFFEE!!! Yes, it's not quite 4 AM here, but the coffee's on and we'll freshen it through the day!

    And might I suggest people try "copycat" writing, too? Not plagiarism, that's frowned upon (laughing!) but if you have a favorite author, try writing the way that author writes.

    Copy her/him.

    You'll be amazed how your own voice shines through, but you pick up a very salable skill and style... and it helps you firm your own "Voice" and style.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! :)

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    1. Ruthy, I've torn apart another author's work to figure out how they do it. I remember someone posted on that here a while back. I love the idea of analyzing someone else's story. Because you're right that our own voice shows through when we try to write stories that are similar.

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  8. Vince, I hope you love "Peace in the Valley" when it's released... and they backed off the release two months (to May) because they are re-releasing the first two books as mass market editions. Back in the Saddle should appear in mass market shelves (Walmarts, Targets, grocery stores, pharmacies, bookstores, etc.) in March, Home on the Range in April, and then Peace in the Valley in May....

    I love that this series of books will be stocked on the very same shelves folks find my Love Inspired books. How wonderful is that???

    And I'm praying folks see them.... buy them.... and love them, because this publisher is really going all out, for which I am very grateful!

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    1. Smart to bring them out back to back like that!

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    2. Missy, it's brilliant, right? Unless it turns out to be the BIGGEST MISTAKE THEY EVER MADE!!!!

      I'm not nervous... I'm not nervous... I'm not nervous.... ;)

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    3. oh Ruthy!!!!! mass market is gonna be uber successful with your cowboy series. the covers alone should drive sales up because each of them are beyond gorgeous and eye catching. the stories within will be sure to capture new readers for you. your stuff hits people right at their hearts - well, at least mine anyway. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the newest cover!!!!

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  9. Vince, think of the words to "Peace in the Valley" (remember Elvis singing it?... Loved his version!)

    "There will be peace in the valley for me, someday.
    There will be peace in the valley, for me, Oh Lord I pray...

    There'll be no sadness, no trouble, no trouble I see...

    There will be Peace in the Valley, someday... for me."

    I love this hymn, and it echoed my image of Trey, a man who appears faith-filled, calm and happy, but whose heart got ripped up when he was such a little, little boy... and it's never been quite right since.

    I'm so blessed that Waterbrook let me keep all three titles because in my head, they were key to the series progression.

    Oh, Lordy, I could talk cowboys all day, but this is Missy's day and conflict is the name of the game!!!!

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    1. I love this hymn too Ruthy!

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    2. It's like a reflection of the soul....

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    3. Ruthy, I'm glad you got to keep your titles!

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    4. Missy, me too.... I thought those music titles really balanced the meaning behind each book. And then I wondered if it was weird to think like that???

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    5. Hi Ruth:

      If you have not seen it, I feel the most moving "Peace in the Valley" was sung by Johnny Cash at San Quentin prison with the angelic Carter voices behind him and really harden criminals in front of him. (That performance was a living Beatitude.) It's on YouTube.

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  10. What a great post Missy. There is so much packed into it that I will need to come back tonight and visit all the links. I would love to have my name in the hat for either book. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Ruthy, I can hardly wait for Peace in the Valley to come out too! I am anxious to read Trey's story.

    Many blessings to everyone today and throughout the week!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, I hope you get a chance to read later. I've got you entered. Have a great day!

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    2. Aw, Cindy, thank you! It's in the final stages right now and I was absolutely thrilled to work with Brandy Bruce, the free-lance editor Waterbrook brought on board for Trey's story... her insight was wonderful. It's always tricky to remember that the reader who hasn't read books 1 and 2 needs a little extra consideration.... but not to bore the readers who have read them with too much detail! I don't want them throwing that book across the room!!!! :)

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  11. Wow! This post is packed with great stuff, Missy. I'm getting ready to venture out into the single digit temps for work, but I'll be revisiting tonight. I'd love to be entered into the drawing for The Story Within Plot Guide. When it comes to craft books, paper copies work better for me. Thanks!

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    1. Jill, I'll enter you for print. I've started buying craft books in e-book format and highlighting sections to come back to. In shorter books, it's working pretty well. But I have to admit it's not as easy to go back and scan through bigger books. I've started making notes as I read the first time, notes on the story I'm working on so I make sure to remember the ideas it spurred.

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    2. I should clarify that the notes I'm talking about are in a separate Word file.

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  12. Thank you for this post. I'm printing it off so I can access when I need it. Have a great week everyone.

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    1. I hope you find it useful, Wilani. We're thinking of you today. You're in our prayers.

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  13. Wow! So much information on one little page!! Thanks so much for putting this together, Missy. I'll be back later tonight to print of several of the blog posts you referenced. All the wonderful information you've shared will be so helpful to me as I work through my requested revisions, which I'm discovering mostly have to do with clarifying the conflict.

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    1. Rhonda, I've found that even when they seem daunting at first.... they're usually not. It's usually a timing, or placing or clarification.... where I forgot to detail the "why" of the situation. Thank heavens for savvy editors!!!

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    2. Rhonda, I hope it helps with your revisions!

      What I learned early on is that I had the conflict too complicated or else I had too many conflicts. Sometimes just simplifying can help.

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  14. Hi Missy,
    Thanks for all of this great information! This is definitely a keeper post, and I'll return to it often.
    I'd love to have my name entered in the drawing for Alisha's book. I have a worksheet of hers, but I didn't know about her book.
    Thanks again for all the wonderful tips!

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    1. Jackie, yes, she has several worksheets and a couple of books. I've got you entered!

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  15. Thank you, MISSY. This is timely for me because I just started a brand-new story, and I want to know these people before I go any further. I've been using the Arctype post from a couple of weeks ago. What I've got so far, she's a control freak because of a horrific childhood, he's a former party boy who wants to be taken seriously, especially now that he's called to be a pastor, for Pete's sake. She confronts her past and he confronts his future. And somewhere in the story, they both need to break and be put back together again.
    RUTHY is right, it's not all about the charts if you know your people and can play off their emotions. It depends on what works for you.
    I am looking forward to 2017 (might as well, we're already in it), with a new crit partner, a private project on learning structure, reviewing my friends' books, and a recent request for a full from a contest judge.
    It's fun to go in a store (usually Walmart) and browse through the book section and point to a book and say, "I know that author!" Because it's usually an author I know from here. Is name-dropping a sin?
    Please enter me in the drawing for the craft book.
    Kathy Bailey
    Better than usual in NH

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    1. Kathy, congrats on the request for the full manuscript!

      I have to smile about the name dropping. I sometimes feel like I'm doing that! I hope it's not sinful. ;)

      Your comment about 2017 made me smile! Yes, it's here whether we want it to be or not. :)

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    2. A request for a full! Congratulations, Kathy!

      Nancy C

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    3. Kathy, I am happy dancing for you!!!! YOWZA!!!!!!!!!

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  16. RUTHY, I love the way Elvis sings "Peace In the Valley." Nobody interpreted a hymn or gospel song the way he did. It still gives me chills.
    KB

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    1. Me, too. And when I thought of Trey's story, of what the little boy went through, and how that hung in his head and heart, "Peace in the Valley" was perfect. And that the stories are set in the big, broad, beautiful Kittitas Valley of Central Washington made it come full circle.

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  17. MISSY, thanks for this post. You've provided a wealth of information for writing conflict and character growth! I'm not familiar with Weiland's so want to check that one out first.

    Janet

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    1. Janet, I think you'll like it. I'm highlighting like crazy while reading it!

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    2. MISSY, I do that, too. Highlighting helps things stick in my mind.

      Janet

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  18. MARY, I would love for my hero and heroines to always be on flip sides of an issue as that creates great conflict. Must try to do that more!

    Janet

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    1. It's always fun to write opposites. :)

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  19. RUTHY, Emotion of the wounds of their pasts is a great place to start. Asking the whys helps us dig deeper. Do you just create a plot that forces the characters to overcome, to change? Any tips on how you brainstorm? I love creating back story but plot is way tougher.

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet:

      James Patterson teaches that the writer should always be asking questions that the reader must have answered. I think this can keep the reader reading even when it is not conflict.

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    2. VINCE, good point! The reason writers don't want to give the answers too early, too easily.

      Janet

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    3. Anne Goldsmith from Tyndale advised me on the "whys" about a decade back. She made such a difference in how I see a story... Janet, because I'm usually working in a series, there is so much going on in families, in towns, in government, in cities, that for me it's easy to see conflict and then see it grow.

      Gotta go help really cute kid with homework!!!! I AM SMARTER THAN A THIRD GRADER!!!!

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    4. Hi Janet: Both not too soon or not too late. But there are dozens of questions that can be asked and some may take a whole book to answer and some will be answered in 1/2 a page. A really good midgrade book can have a dozen questions per chapter! Will the new kid be a friend or enemy? Will she want my job on the school newspaper? Will she take my date to the dance? Will she like my sister better. It's amazing. Sandra Bird is an expert at doing this. Lots of questions, lots of surprises, lots of rewards.

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  20. Thanks for this great post! Lots of great resources!

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  21. What a great list of resources. I like the way Ruthy boiled it down to why and that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

    If I don't know why when I start writing, or when one of my characters does are says something profound or "eye-raising", then I need to start trying to figure it out. Even though I have a basic outline of the major turning points, a lot of this type thing comes out in writing the first draft as I really get to know the characters.

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    1. Good point, Pam! A lot can come out in the first draft. I love when characters surprise me. :)

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  22. Missy, anytime I'm struggling in a story, it's always one of goals, motivation, or conflict. Or should I say, the lack thereof.

    Thank you for this wealth of information.

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    1. Connie, that's a good method to use when things go wrong. It's time to examine the GMC.

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  23. I should have asked in my post... how do you writers handle conflict? How do you make sure you have a strong character arc?

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  24. Such a great collection of resources, Missy! One of my favorite lines:

    "There is conflict between what the character wants and what he needs."

    How often is this true of each one of us? ;)

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    1. That's true, Myra! I like to choose a misguided goal for my character. He/she thinks it'll be a good thing when it'll really keep him/her from what they need most.

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  25. Thanks Missy for all the info. I think of conflict as a "how to be dramatic without being melodramatic." I think it's important for the heroine and hero to share the same values but to approach life differently. And at the end of the day, the conflict will always seem a bit melodramatic if you don't show the motivation. Why is just as important as what, who, and how, maybe even moreso.

    Two of my favorite places to start with the protagonist is: 2) She thinks she has it all together and the hero shines a light on a major crack or 2) She thinks she's hanging by a thread and the hero shows her she's stronger than she thinks.

    I'd love to be put in for either book! Thanks!

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    1. Josee, that's a great place to start with those two options! Thanks for sharing!

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  26. This is very helpful for me. I struggle with conflict. I think I subconsciously avoid putting my characters through conflict because I avoid it at all costs in real life! lol

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    1. Becky, that's exactly why I have trouble with it. :)

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  27. hi Missy
    this is a great post. love the links to the other Seeker posts and the reminder that we can refresh our minds on other stuff the Seekerville has taught. so, so great.
    I'm terrible at establishing sustainable conflict. I seem more suited for flash fiction than longer stuff, but I'm working towards longer and this post is quite helpful.
    Thanks again for compiling, explaining and updating. Lots of work and it is greatly appreciated.
    Seekerville is so wonderful!!!!!

    p.s. wouldn't mind being in the draw for the kindle copy of Creating Character Arcs.

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    1. DebH, I've been told multiple times I need to find a conflict that can sustain the whole novel. So I understand! :)

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  28. Terrific post, Missy! A good reminder to throw more rocks at our characters while they're stuck in a tree...and give them a fear of heights. lol I've love a copy of the print book.

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    1. Barbara, that's a great way to put it! :)

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  29. Missy, great blog packed with information! Deb Dixon's GMC is a favorite of mine too! I still remember the first time I heard her speak at GA Romance Writers. It was years ago. Her book was still new and so was I. It took me a while before I grasped the GMC concept. A light bulb moment but so important to learn!

    In my current WIP, I made changes after realizing the conflict between hero and heroine wasn't strong enough. I made the necessary changes and the story started to unfold.

    If I had to pick one thing that makes or breaks a story, it would be conflict. IMHO, it's the key to a good story.

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    1. Debby, I remember Deb doing a workshop at GRW years ago. And I especially remember a workshop she did at RWA called Climbing the Slippery Slope. It was eye opening for me!

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  30. As Mary C mentioned above...if the hero is a fire fighter, the heroine needs to be an arsonist. So true!

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    1. Hi Debby: That is true in a suspense or thriller but in a romance, now, the heroine's departed husband needs to have been killed fighting a fire.

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  31. Oh my goodness! It's lunchtime. How did that happen so quickly?! I'm setting out cold cuts and chips and a veggie tray! Help yourselves. :)

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  32. I'm going to be away from the computer for a while, so y'all keep the discussion going! I'll be back as soon as I can to check in. Let me know if you have any questions!

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  33. Missy, wow! You have so many great tips and posts included in this blog. My favorite things were what Ruthy shared. She's a master at drawing the emotion out of her characters and making them feel real. I don't have time right now (it's one of those home for one hour, gone for 3 kind of days), but I'm coming back to this post. Conflict is one of the areas I'm working on.

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    1. Aw, thank you, Jeanne. I love emotions in stories, and I realized today that the story I'm working on is full of emotion... and dry as a bone. NO HUMOR. So tonight I'm going back to the first hundred pages and fixing that, because if there's no self-deprecating humor at all, I can't put my name on it!!! :)

      Thank you for your kind words. What a cool thing to read!

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    2. Jeanne, I agree about Ruthy's writing! Ruthy, good luck with the layering. :)

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    3. Missy, I forgot mention I would like to be in the draw for Debra Dixon's GMC book. :)

      Ruthy, I'm sure that book will be amazing when you're done with it!

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  35. What a great post! I love when I can go to a single place and find a catalog of a lot of really good resources. This one is worth bookmarking!

    And I feel greedy for asking because I've won a couple of times recently, but I would love to be entered in the drawing for KM Weiland's book! :)

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    1. We'll toss your name in, dear one! And you're right, there's so much good info here. It's a treasure trove. Speaking of treasure trove, there is a hidden treasure in my Guideposts mystery!!!! (I blame Megan for that shameless plug because she said TREASURE!!!)

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    2. Megan, I'm glad to enter you!
      Ruthy, how fun to have that hidden treasure!

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  36. Good gracious, Missy. What resources and observations you've shared. This must have taken a lot of research. Thank you!

    One of my favorite types of conflict is when a conflict is resolved, only to trigger another, unforeseen conflict -- and all of those smaller conflicts are caused by the larger, over-riding conflict. It's an "Ahhh, so that's resolved" followed by an "Oh no! That solution makes it worse." I notice that type of mini-conflicts particularly in comedic stories.

    Hmm. I hope that made sense :-)

    And as Vince said about another book from you "no matter how long the wait, it will always be worth it."

    Nancy C





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    1. Nancy C you're sweet to say that. Thank you.

      And thanks for mentioning that type of conflict! You're right that it can be fun. :)

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  37. Wow, that's a lot of clicking and reading. I looked at some of links, but I'll have to go back and read through the rest at a different time. Preferably not a day in which I just started both college and school again after Christmas Break- I'm exhausted!

    Thanks for this insightful post, I would like to be entered in the drawing.

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    1. Nicky, my sons started back today and my daughter starts back tomorrow. I hope you have a great semester!

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  38. Oh my, oh my, oh my!! Missy, this is sensational...so much information packed into one little blog!! Whew!! I perused, but didn't study...this is one of those mulling over kind of post! Definitely need to reference the links as I rewrite a manuscript! Thanks for all the research! And, I'd love to be entered for the The Story Within Plot Guide! Have a tea-lightful day!

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    1. Kathryn, I'm so glad you found it helpful! Thanks for reading. :)

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  39. Thanks for sharing all of these ideas and links. Since I am an enthusiastic reader and not a talented author, I won't try to win these two books.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Connie, we/I love your enthusiastic reader side!!!!! BEST EVER!!!

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    2. Connie, thanks for reading!! We couldn't do this without our readers. :)

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  40. Great post Missy with a goldmine of info. Very timely for me as I finished a wip bright before Christmas and will go through it now with your info in mind. Happy New year.

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    1. Sandra, good for you. A lot of folks stop working in December, but when we do that, it's hard to jump start in January. It's easy to "lose" the habit... Go get 'em, Tiger!!!

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  41. Just seeing all those links makes my head spin! I'm super glad and thankful for Seekerville authors. You write the most awesome novels, as well as sharing your expertise. Please don't enter my name for the books as I'm an avid reader, not a writer!

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    1. And we love you for it, Marianne!!!!

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    2. Marianne, we're more than happy to support your reading habit. :)

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  42. I just bought the book Caffeine for the Creative Mind ---It has nothing to do with drinking coffee :)

    It's got 250 exercises for awakening creativity. I'll report back.

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    1. Who are you sending it to, darling? Because I'll bet you lunch at the coffee shop we love, you will never read it.

      Message me privately in three weeks and tell all. :)

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    2. Mary, I can't imagine you with more story ideas in your head. You'll never sleep again! :)

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    3. Seriously, Mary, I'd love to hear what you think of the book.

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  43. Missy, thank you for the refresher on conflict and character arcs! Your first review post was before my time as a Seekervilliger, so I appreciated reading your charting method. Your charts will certainly help. Loved the idea of the story question for the external goals. Please put my name in the hat for the Crearing Character Arcs book.

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    1. Sherida, thanks for reading! That's one of my favorite posts that I've done. It's been a nice refresher for me to read it again. :)

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  44. Hi Missy:

    I have some favorites among conflicts: I like multiple streams of conflict which are fresh and which seem to be unsolvable and which might actually have a few mutually exclusive solutions -- all of which are high stake and which must be solved quickly before some type of disaster hits. Finally the solution at the climax should be so obvious that I could kick myself for not noticing the clues the author so skillfully planted throughout the book. I want to say out loud, "You got me this time, but you won't get my in your next book. I know your tricks now."

    That's all. By the numbers. : )

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    1. Vince, mutually exclusive solutions sounds like a good method for conflict!

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  45. Hey, Missy. Went through your blog and will spend tomorrow going through the links and printing them. This is a week's worth of study and I hope to translate my book's bullet points (the synopsis lesson from last week) into where each scene fits in GMC.

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    1. Olivia, that sounds like a great plan! I'm glad you're trying out these methods. Let us know how it goes!

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  46. Please put my name in the catdish for one of those wonderful prizes!

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  47. WOW, MISSY ... this isn't just a workshop in a blog, girlfriend, this is entire college course!! VERY impressive!!

    I do tend to be, however, in the same camp as Ruthy when she says, "“Missy, I don't use books or charts. I use emotion."

    Fortunately or unfortunately, when it comes to emotion, my cup runneth over, so I tend to rely almost primarily on that wellspring of emotion to write my novels, which is probably not smart. Heaven knows how much I could improve if I just studied a book or two, but my eyes tend to glaze over and my head tends to spin when I see charts and methods, I'm afraid. So I basically write by my emotional mind's eye with a wee bit of plotting thrown in. Good or bad, it's the only way I know how to do it. :|

    I did, however, enjoy going through the workbook of Writing the Breakout Novel with a crit group once, so maybe I should give how-to books a bit more leverage in my life ... :|

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, you sure don't need to change anything! We all have different methods. That's why I like sharing links so we can look at the different methods and figure out what works for us. I love how well you do emotion! Keep up the great work.

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  48. Oh there is so much good info here Missy! I am definitely bookmarking so I can go through all the links.

    I follow Kim Weiland's blog. She always has great posts about the writing craft. I love how she uses movie story lines as examples for fiction writing. Her Character Arc book is at the top of my "gotta-buy-this-craft-book" list.

    Thanks for all the info and the giveaway!

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    1. Loraine, thanks for bookmarking the post. I think you'll like the Character Arc book!

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  49. So so much great stuff! Thank you! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. I need all the help I can get!

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  50. Missy, this was such an interesting post. Thank you! I love the idea of using craft books, but I'm beginning to think I'm more in the Ruthy camp (writing from emotion). I'm just getting started though, and just beginning to read the craft books, so I may change my mind as I go along. I will say Janice Hardy's "Understanding Show, Don't Tell" was extremely helpful. Thanks again for such a thought-provoking post.

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    1. Lauren, you're welcome. I'm glad you found it interesting. It's fun to try new methods. I'm glad the writing from emotion is working for you!

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  51. Missy, As I will be plotting a book as of Thursday, this post was most helpful. I love craft books, and I love reading them. Thursday morning before I start at square one, I'll be rereading this post. I so struggle with conflict and so appreciate any tips to make conflict stronger in my books. I remember going to my first GRW meeting and a wonderful, wonderful member of GRW turned to me and said, "You have GMC by Debra Dixon, right?" and when I said no, she took the time out to tell me all about it and I went home and ordered the book online that afternoon. Four years later, I still have loads to learn, but you know what? It's fun. I love getting to know my characters, and Ruthy's point about the emotion and heart of the backstory? So true. Please pardon the rambling as my county announced another snow day tomorrow. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Tanya, I can't believe y'all have another snow day! Maybe by Thursday, the day you'll be plotting a story, they'll be back to school. ;)

      I have to add that so much of what I know about writing I learned when I was a newbie at GRW meetings and the M&M conferences (as well as RWA conferences). Lots of generous authors who have taught me so much.

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  52. I'm finally back! Had trouble with my Blogger app today. Will catch up now.

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  53. Great info here. Another great resource (if she still does them), is Lyn Cote's Conflict Grid course I did with her a few years back. In fact, I've just been working on the grid for current manuscript and its really great and gets you thinking.

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    1. Joanne, thank you for that reminder! I have that as well and should go back to look at it again. I'm so glad you mentioned it!

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  54. Missy, thank you for the plethora of valuable information and posts. I am going to pin and come back and back and back! I would love to have my name tossed into the hat for Creative Character Arcs. :)

    Now back to your links!

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    1. Kelly, I hope you find some of the articles helpful! :)

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  55. I know I am a day behind, but I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful resources and links that you provided. I've been told that my writing is lacking on character development, so I am needing all the help I can get! Thanks so much.

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    1. Sherrinda, I'm so glad you came by! I hope the articles help with your character development. And never fear, it's something you can fix. One of my first rejections said my characters were cardboard. :)

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  56. thanks for the resources, looking forward to seeing the magic conflict sheet; please enter me in the giveaways

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  57. This is such an informational post. And, the links are helpful.
    Please enter me in the `Character Arcs' as I am in Canada.
    Thank you,
    Jan

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