Some stories entertain, some make us laugh, some give us a good scare, some intrigue, some investigate what it’s like to be human.
Whatever kind of story you write, you need to give your characters a goal, a mission, something to strive for.
CHARACTERS NEED OPPOSING FORCES, TOO
Perhaps some-one who works against the hero or heroine.
Perhaps the hero has a personality trait which gets in his way, or maybe a run of bad luck which threatens to stop him getting what he wants.
In an essay called The Philosophy of Plot, novelist and Edgar Award nominee James N Frey writes as follows.
‘All good plots come from
well-orchestrated characters pitted against one another
in a conflict of wills.’
He sites as an example the well-known story The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It’s been eighty-four days since the hero, Santiago, caught a fish. His fellow-fishermen think he’s past it.
‘On the eighty-fifth day Santiago rows out to the deepest part of the Gulf Stream. He’s not only after a fish, he’s after reclaiming his manhood. He succeeds, and that’s his development.’
Outer conflict, inner conflict, or both. Bring them on, and get that reader hooked.
Quotes from James N Frey are taken from The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the editors of Writer’s Digest. I recommend this book – it’s a mine of information for novel writers. It was first published in 2002 by Writer’s Digest Books.
Frog: (Having encountered outer conflict)
It was the cat, actually.