When you’re browsing the shelves of your local book store or library, what triggers your mind to pick one book from the slew of those on offer? What single thing draws you in and piques your interest? One word. Conflict.
Without the struggles, the fears, doubts and trials that the characters must face, there really isn’t any point in reading. Conflict is what drives the book forward, giving you that glimpse of hope that there will be a light at the end of sometimes a lengthy tunnel. It’s human nature to root on the underdog. It’s as old as time, but never ceases to sell.
Conflict is the element needed to create successful novels. The idea of “what’s gonna happen next” keeps you turning the page, devouring thousands of words until the very end. A truly good book will have multiple conflicts, each one building the tension until you want to explode if you don’t discover the answers.
You need opposition. Man vs man, animals, environment or even a battle within your character’s mind. Up the stakes with each page. Make them beg for more.
Resolution? Oh yeah, you gotta have a good one. Make it believable but if you’re writing multiple books don’t give it all away in the first book. Set a goal for the character and reach it. Who wins the battle, catches the bad guy or scores the final touchdown? But with sequels, trilogys and series you want to keep some questions alive.
With each chapter that you write add more pressure. Make it pleasantly unbearable for your reader. Have them salivating! Throw in teaser chapters from your sequel if you really want to pump up the anticipation.
Another thing that you need to consider, because it’s probably going to happen whether you plan it or not, is what theme you are presenting. Do you have a set or religious beliefs, morals or strong opinions that will come through in your book?
If you want a theme, you need to be conscious of it as you weave your novel. If it’s unintentional…well let’s just hope it turned out the way you wanted!
So if you’re working on a novel in the hopes of publishing take a look at what you’ve written and make sure you’ve added enough conflict to keep the book flowing. Avoid dead spots. Writers dread them and readers hate them.
In an upcoming blog I will go into details of how to create tension.