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Inner Conflict- Tear Up Your Characters

One focus in my current WIP is creating inner conflict in my characters. I decided to pull out some of my favorite novels to see what those characters had to go through.

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer- Bella is in love with both Jake and Edward. She cannot love both, Werewolves and Vampires aren’t exactly buddies. She must choose.
Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Gemma wants to bring the magic into her world but she knows she can’t control it.
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. Reason must either except the magic within herself which her mother has taught her is evil or go insane.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr- Aislinn is madly in love with Seth but she is destined to become the fairey queen.
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle- Percy is torn. She thinks she’s put a love spell on the guy she’s madly in love with. Should she accept his love even if it’s not real or push him away?

It’s the PULL. In all these novels, the MC is pulled in two directions, both possible, but both with inner conflict. I’m trying to build this inner conflict in my characters and I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

In Donald Maas’s book Writing the Breakout Novel, he asks these questions: (Paraphrased)
1. What does your character want more than anything?
2. What is the exact opposite of that?
3. How can you blend these to make your MC desire both?

Tear your characters up. Send them through an internal roller coaster. Put them through inner pain as well as external. After all, no pain, no gain.

7 Responses to Inner Conflict- Tear Up Your Characters

  1. beth says:

    This is so very true. I’m trying to do that in my rewrite now: how can I make things worse for my characters, how can I torture them? That’s what makes things better: one more twist of the screw!

  2. Kim Kasch says:

    Good post. It’s so true. Nice stories are boring – there has to be conflict.

    Thanks for the comment about my sustainability tip – that was an oops! It’s not meant to come out until this Friday – I hit the button too soon – that’s what I get for writing so late at night and early in the morning 🙁

  3. PJ Hoover says:

    You used some great examples! I love the advice. I’ve been meaning to read the DM book. Maybe it’s time.

  4. Kelly says:

    I like the internal rollercoaster analogy. Conflict is good for the story!

  5. Kate Fall says:

    Great post! The word for January is now PULL.

  6. Rena says:

    Great post. Love the PULL reference. How true that is for any of us in life.

  7. I’m you could find this helpful. And sometimes it’s just nice to have reminders of ways to make our manny better. Like a checklist.

    You’re right Rena, the pull is really what life is about too isn’t it.

    PJ- I highly recommend the book. And sometimes I just look at one topic a night and think over what he has said and how it pertains to my own work.

    Kate- yeah for PULL!

    Kelly- Yeah, that roller coaster picture really captures it doesn’t it?

    Kim- ah! That makes sense. I thought it was just me trying to still figure out this whole bloggin thing!

    Beth- I love that word!- Torture.

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