Surviving Nanowrimo # 5: The Devil Made Me Do It

Today we’re going to talk conflict. You see, there is no such thing as a story or a hero or a protagonist without conflict. One thing to remember when writing a story: Really bad things happen to really good characters. The more a hero has to overcome the more the reader likes the character.

Consider that there are five types of conflict:
1.Man against man. Harry Potter and Game of Thrones are examples.
2.Man against nature. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London and the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow.”
3.Man against society. 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale
4.Man against self. Hamlet
5.Man against technology. 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Terminator

It’s obvious that “Chad and the Surfboard” has a human vs. human conflict scheme. In the novel, there are several villains. The ex-boyfriend chief among them. After doing the draft, it’s obvious to me that I need to flush him out more. But that is what you learn with first drafts, what I need more of and what I need less of.

One thing to keep in mind: a villain or an antagonist is human. They do not judge their actions as bad. In their mind, their actions are for the good as they see it.

And, in some cases, they won’t even understand why they did such a thing. That’s when they will laugh and say, “The Devil made me do it.” And maybe they’re right.

When creating the antagonist, try to let a little of the antagonist’s good creep in.

Just like the hero of the story, they want something. Usually something that opposes what the hero wants.

And don’t forget. The villain might just be the devil.  Who wants the hero’s soul. You never know.


The great thing about writing stories…

…is that I get to be all the characters. The hero who does such nice things and saves the world. (I’ve always wanted to save the world and get credit for it.) The villain. (I can be as nasty as I damned-well please. It is such a great emotional release. Helps me get rid of the garbage in my life.) The sexy femme fatale. (Gives me a chance to explore the feminine side of my personality.) The gracious sidekick. (I get to be a little bit gracious and that always makes me feel good.)

No matter the story, I am in there taking punches, giving punches and having a grand old time. When someone walks up to me and says that they have a story I should write, I try to tell them that they should come on in, the water’s fine. But they insist they have no gift. Well, I am not interested in exploring anybody else’s dirty laundry. I have plenty of my own and all filled with wonderful characters that I can be.

All I have to do is sit down at a table in an imaginary restaurant and say, “Hey.”

“Hey,” says the dark-haired lady across from me, sipping red wine.

“So you need me to find your husband?”

“Yes, but don’t make it too fast. I’m having too much fun with his money for now. Sometime in a month or so will be just fine with me.”

“You didn’t murder your husband, did you? I’d hate to go off on a wild goose chase.” Of course, if I know this kind of story, I will be on a wild goose chase before you can toss a coin and call it heads or tails.

“No, I didn’t. I would have liked to. But he’s worth more to me alive than dead.”

And there you have it. I have quickly become two characters in a poorly lit restaurant, discussing murder. Where would I have that opportunity otherwise?