When I write fiction, my work is almost always about some kind of internal struggle, often involving an impossible decision that, whichever way the character chooses to go, ends up defining and shaping them thereafter. Those are the kinds of conflicts I personally find compelling.
But listening to a whole bunch of inner dialogue without anything else going on is not. I like literary…but not that kind of literary.
(Waiting For Godot, anyone? All right, that was dialogue, but please, shoot me first if I ever have to read that again.)
Anyway, so the point is, how do you engage readers throughout your story, and especially in my case, where the demons are often inside the protagonist herself? Bell provides the answer in his chapter on Middles: set up opposition. Whether it’s a villain, a disease, a ticking time bomb, or just plain old obstacles, make things tough for your character. And the opposition must be credible: significantly stronger, bigger, more powerful than your character, or else there’s no challenge. So, because of Bell’s advice, I now make sure I have some other, linked, conflict going on — and it turns out it helps me a lot too because the outside forces continually push my characters to deal with the internal conflict, so the two become inseparable.
Was there something you learned about setting up opposition in the Middle, or increasing and sustaining tension?
All right, next week, let’s read the chapter on Endings. After that, we will move very quickly through the rest of the book, and on to the next. Sound like a plan?
Have a great weekend!!