Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Conflict and Angst

Last night I was reading an article written at Writer's Digest. The article was called "How to Write a Novel". I am always reading all I can on how to be a better writer.
You see, I have all these characters in my head. I begin to write a scene and it turns out wonderful. So you ask me, "What is the problem?" It seems that my characters won't go anywhere from there. You know that is a little disheartening to a writer. It seems that without going forward or backward to another scene, you really have very little chance that you will write a novel. I know...seems like such a small obstacle but it really is a hard one to overcome.

Well as I read the 7 tips to write a novel, I had one of those light bulb moments. I have heard it over and over in every How To book there is out there. It seems that your main character needs a little angst or conflict. Well, there lies the problem I believe. My entire life, I have tried my hardest to avoid conflict. I hate it. It gets in the way of all the happy stuff life is suppose to be about.
I don't know how to fix this problem. You know as much as you want a book to be all Sunshine and Lollipops, it does not make a great story.

Seriously, I know you have to make this happen. Learning to let your character feel pain, or be less than perfect must be extremely hard. The books you really love to read have characters that you fall in love with. When that character is written in first person, you feel everything they feel. You become that person in the book. For instance in "New Moon" I cried from the page that Edward left Bella in the forest until she saved him in Italy. I don't know if I can write that much pain.

 One of the saddest movies I have watched is "Sophie's Choice". The movie was adapted from the book of the same name. Author William Styron wrote novels that were full of pain and conflict. He gave us a glimpse into some of the worst ugly in this world. I haven't read his work, so all I am basing this on is the one movie I saw and then the little research that I have done as I write this blog.  I will definitely read his other work. Sophie and Nathan certainly had conflict and angst. I wonder what it cost Styron emotionally writing the horror of the Holocaust and the reality in the life of a paranoid schizophrenic.

Every author gives the same advice. READ and READ some more and Write and Write some more. I can do that. And I will practice giving my characters angst.