I love torturing my characters.
What’s more, I find that the books I enjoy most are the ones where the characters are tortured (sometimes figuratively rather than literally) by the author.
Some might say that makes me a sadist. Nope. Just a writer with a healthy respect for conflict.
In order to make an enjoyable and page-turning story, there needs to be a healthy amount of conflict. Most writers agree there should be conflict on every page. While that may be a little difficult to accomplish, depending on the genre you write, it is a good goal to strive for. Sure, you can have minor scenes along the way alleviating the tension, but until you reach the final climax, the goal of writing a novel should be to add tension as the story grows.
One of my favorite books in the ‘In Death’ series by J.D. Robb is Conspiracy in Death. *WARNING* Spoilers!!! In this book, Eve Dallas is faced with a murderer who will stop at nothing to prevent her from discovering who s/he is. As she and her team get closer to zeroing in the murderer, Eve has confrontations with an officer who has a vendetta against her. What she doesn’t know is that the officer is a lackey for the murderer. Besides the arguments with the officer, Eve is also threatened by a droid owned by the murderer. When the officer is murdered and Eve is relieved from duty and emotionally crumbles, there’s no way I’m putting that book down! While the end is still far, this climax in the middle of a book I’ve read several times always manages to suck me in to see what happens next.
Granted, part of this is an emotional connection to Eve Dallas. I’m not going to discuss that aspect at this time, though K.M. Weiland has a great blog this week if you want more info. And while caring for the characters you write (and read about) can heighten the feeling of conflict in your story, you can care all you want about your characters, but if nothing difficult ever passes through their life during the timeframe you’re writing about, you’re not writing a saleable story.
That being said, I’d urge you to review your latest work-in-progress. Try to identify what kind of conflict is going on every page or two. If you can’t find it, it’s likely your reader/agent/editor won’t find it either.
I’ll be off, creating havoc in the lives of my characters.
Until next time,