Five Great Quotations about Editors
Why you should avoid being sensational

Use conflicts addressing story's central problem

As developing 12032077_10152988480550216_4499478457079044463_na story, your main character must face conflicts as attempting to resolve the central problem that set the story in motion. These conflicts, however, must always relate to that central problem. Such conflicts are called complications.

For example, suppose the central problem of your story is that a sheriff in the Old West must track down a bank robber. Any complication in the story would be a conflict that hinders the sheriff’s ability to catch the bank robber: he loses their trail; his horse throws a shoe that slows his chase; he must enter a canyon in which he could be ambushed. Unrelated conflicts, such as wishing the pretty young teacher in town wouldn’t marry the general store’s owner might be interesting, but at best that will just be a subplot unless it can be connected to catching the bank robber.

Each new complication also needs to create a more dire situation for our main. This does not necessarily mean that each new conflict is more dangerous than those that came before. Instead, with each new complication, the prospect of resolving the central problem becomes more unlikely or will require some great sacrifice on the part of the main character.

Complications need not just be external conflicts but also can be internal. For example, the sheriff might doubt his own abilities, perhaps because he didn’t catch a bank robber when serving as a sheriff back East, and the deep sense of failure is what led him to head out West. A horse throwing a shoe is certainly a problem, but one the sheriff easily can overcome with time; he just needs to make it to a blacksmith or a local farmer who knows how to shoe a horse. The sheriff’s uncertainty about what to do next, however, can lead him into more difficult troubles…for example, once he picks up the trail again, he might doubt his discovery and set off in the wrong direction.

As developing complications in a story, always ask what is the character's driving motivation for solving the story's central problem then have the antagonist play off this by foiling the main character in some way related to his motivation. For example, in an espionage tale, our protagonist spy’s motivation for solving the central problem of stopping a terrorist from exploding a dirty bomb might be loyalty to/love of country. Have the terrorist plant information that suggests the spy’s own government is behind the dirty bomb plot. Now the main character must unravel the truth (and wonder if his loyalty is misplaced) – all while the terrorist continues unhindered in hatching his dastardly scheme.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Raleigh, North Carolina, or a small town like Strong, Maine, I can provide that second eye.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)