Monday, August 16, 2010

Hmm, Are You External or Internal?

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As I began writing my next book, it occurred to me that conflict is the lifeblood of our books. There is external and internal. What comes easiest for you as you write your novel? External conflicts or internal? I'm an external kinda gal. I write external conflicts with ease. They just seem to gush out of me. But internal? Oh, mercy me. There is where my troubles start.

Internal conflict is the problem facing our character on the inside and its influence on the character.  It shows how our characters grow throughout the novel. It shows how they change. Not my cup of tea. And we must remember to do everything in our power to keep our MC from reaching their goal. Every bump in the road must show our character something. Expose the weakness in our character. Make him/her human.

External conflict is what drives our characters to make choices. Internal choices. You can't have one without the other. So how can I be great at one and awful at the other if they intertwine so? Dunno. Wish I did. I'm working on it though.

You have to have emotion and conflict on every page. And this tension is what makes the reader love the MC and hate the antagonist. This is also where those famous words, "show no tell," become meaningful to us as writers. Instead of a character rambling on about how much she hates John Doe ;) show it through body language. Actions speak louder than words.

Drama = conflict. Conflict = a best seller. :) Anything I forgot to mention in this post? :)

26 comments:

  1. Interestingly, I tend to approach conflict the other way around--my character's internal drives are what motivate choices. The consequences of those choices then create further internal and external conflict.

    I guess the best way to intertwine would be to match external conflicts with what a character most hates and fears or with her deepest desires.

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  2. Laurel, I am working on emotion. Something that I leave out. I have everything else in words, but I want the reader to feel it. You know? :)

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  3. Great post, Robyn. Usually the internal conflict comes much easier to me. I often end up wrestling with trying to get something to actually HAPPEN in my stories. All my characters do is think for the most part. Sometimes they look at things. Rarely do they do!

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  4. Can I be wishy-washy and say a bit of both?


    Grin!

    Thanks for always sharing your precious heart.

    P

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  5. Great post,Robyn. Sometimes during a revision I'll keep this question in mind: How is (insert character name) feeling? This has helped me to explore and develop that internal story.

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  6. Davin, My poor characters beg to have inner turmoil. They do and do and do. They want some of what your characters have. :)

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  7. Patti, you wishy-washy? Never! You're as real as they come, pal. :)

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  8. Paul, sounds like I'll be using your question. Hopefully it will help me keep things more even. :)

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  9. It's amazing how many things we need to juggle when writing a novel. But I do think personal awakenings or changes in the MC make for the best stories. Happy writing and riding to you!

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  10. Great post on describing conflict, both external and internal--thanks!

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  11. Thanks Pat. And I loves me some riding. YEAH! ;)

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  12. Kenda, thanks girl. Love your post on color. :)

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  13. Internal w/a touch of external. Ha! You know I never do things the easy way. I love the internal conflict.

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  14. Both kinds of conflict are necessary for a book, but which one am I best at? I would like to think internal. It's my favorite to write, but my BETA reader likes my external conflict. Does that mean I might be good at both? Hmm, better not get a big head! LoL

    Also love "show it through body language. Actions speak louder than words." Good stuff here Robyn!!

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  15. Im so internal it's ridiculous. Everything about me and the way I write and the way I think and my characters think and act are drawn from their insides.

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  16. Good post! I realized while reading through this that I've always been better at--or at least more used to--writing internal conflicts. With the last novel I finished I really focused on external conflicts but I know I could do more. I'm going to keep this in mind when I work on my next book :)

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  17. I do believe external conflict comes easier for me. But you'd think that my being such an introvert it would be the other way around!

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  18. Hi Robyn! Oh, I'm not much for conflict in real life, but point well taken! Fiction without conflict = boring. Looking forward to seeing your books in print! God bless!

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  19. Nope! You covered it girl! Conflict conflict conflict - the bread and butter of writing! I think internal comes easier to me....I have to do a lot of brainstorming to dredge up some external.

    God bless you Robyn!!
    Katie

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  20. Hi Robyn, I am good with external conflicts. But I am trying to work on the internal conflict part. Both conflicts make for a good book. Great post!

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  21. I'm fine with both, but I find external conflict easier and more exciting to write.

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  22. You explained it all very well!! I think I've always looked at conflict like a braid. I try to weave together three strands of conflict, the external, internal, and then the relationship conflict (which is crucial in a romance). We really need to weave them all together throughout the book, and that is no easy feat!

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  23. I'm going to take some time to ponder this as I look at my latest poetry. I bet this line of analysis will help me push into some new directions. I feel like I need some kind of push poetically these days :)

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