Pedal to the Metal

14 Jul

Picture your novel as a car.As the author, you’re in the driver’s seat. Sitting beside you riding shot gun is your muse who changes into whatever character you need depending on what scene you’re writing. In the back seat is your internal editor, who continually nags you. I said turn left, idiot. Don’t forget to signal, you moron. A necessary evil, unfortunately. There are times when you are allowed to bound and gag this back seat editor: when you’re writing a first draft or when you’re freewriting. Other than that, you just have to deal with him or her.

The roadmap is your plot. Where are you going, and how are you going to get there? Are there twists and turns, or can you see for miles? Hint: better to have a twisted road map, rather than a straight path. When it comes to fiction, the broken road is much more interesting.

So you’re cruising along, writing your novel, and all of a sudden you grind to a halt, for no apparent reason.

You’re out of gas.

Herein lies the most important lesson about writing — you must never run out of gas, or your story will go nowhere.

And guess what? Conflict is the fuel that drives your story.

Call it what you want: conflict, tension, the villain, the antagonist — you must present challenges and problems to your character so they can take action in order for the story to move forward. Without conflict, your story idles in the middle of the road, and the reader closes your book, maybe never to return.

Your conflict must be strong enough to carry the novel. In other words, you can’t have two characters bickering from beginning to end. Arguing isn’t conflict, not if it can be resolved by honest communication between two reasonable adults.

I think Dwight Swain said it best: “Conflict is two hungry dogs, and one bone.”

An agent once told me he looked for conflict on every page. Conflict will keep your reader turning those pages, to find out how your character is going to get out of this latest mess.

Once you find a strong conflict to fuel your novel for the entire trip, make sure you don’t let your foot off the gas. Drive your story forward until the very end, and your reader will really enjoy the trip!

9 Responses to “Pedal to the Metal”

  1. laurastanfill July 14, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I love the advice to find conflict on every page. That’s a great way to measure whether your foot is on the gas or not!

  2. nancyelizabethlauzon July 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, laura – absolutely, it’s a great measuring tool.

    Nancy

  3. Selena Robins July 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Great blog! I love the analogy you used with driving.

    • nancyelizabethlauzon July 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

      Thanks, Selena! Words of wisdom learned at the school of hard knocks, LOL!

  4. fandina72 July 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Nancy, this is fabulous. The analogy was just perfect. I loved it! I will definitely take it away with me to my writing and apply it. “Conflict on every page” – such a great thing to keep in mind. Great post! (again!)

  5. Lindsay B. July 15, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I was a tad concerned at what I’d find on your site when I saw “Chick Dicks” in your name, so I chuckled when I saw what it actually was. Hey, I have some erotica writers amongst my Twitter followers, so one never knows. 😉

    Yes, good conflict doesn’t usually annoy the reader (as constantly arguing characters probably would). *g*

    • nancyelizabethlauzon July 15, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      Hi Lindsay,

      Yeah, I get that about the ‘chick dicks’ name, LOL. My critique partner’s son thought I wrote porn! I guess that’s why I spell it out on my home page 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Nancy

  6. Candy September 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Good krub,All investment have their own risks , itvosner has to evaluate whether the return with those risks is worthwhile for them. However, the most important thing is that we have to understand what we are doing.I used to interest in a property fund but after some study I ,end up, found out that the company that sell assets to property fund is more interesting . haha : )

Talk to me ;)

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