What I Screw Up: The Evolution of Conflict

Today’s theme for this post is “things I always screw up as a writer.” While mulling this, I realized it’s changed a lot from when I first started writing romance ::mumblemumble:: years ago. I distinctly remember one of my first critique partners telling me that there wasn’t enough conflict between my characters. Well, that made total sense to me. I hate conflict! In real life, that is. But that personal preference was bleeding over into my fiction, where in order for the story to be interesting there needed to be some good, solid conflict for the characters to work their way past on the way to their happily ever after.

pair-707505_1280Some time goes by. I go to workshops, conferences, read articles, and write, write, write. I’m putting in conflict galore! Or at least I thought I was. What I was actually doing was making my characters bicker a lot. It’s not true conflict if a single, level-headed conversation can alleviate it. Bickering is not conflict. Okay, got it. More workshops, reading and writing ensue.

My editor will still have me work on conflict from time to time. In fact, I have a book I have to tweak a couple of scenes for this week. And yep, it has to do with my conflict. I think I’ve come a long way in developing my characters’ conflicts since those early days, but it’s always a work in progress.

5077f6363a9021b88616d6be39a51721Now for something on a smaller scale. I think most if not all writers have a pet word, one they use all the time without even thinking about it. Often it’s one they use in everyday speech. My pet word — just. I just use it all the time. When I finish a book, during proofreading I have to have my “just deletion” tool activated in my mind. I should really do a search and see how many instances of just are in a finished book before I revise. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s a lot.

So what about you? What’s the thing you struggle with or always get wrong in your writing? Do you have a pet word that you want to hug, pet, squeeze and call George (totally dating myself there)?

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