Conflict on Every Page

A writer recently read her work after I carped on the class about staying in scene. So it wasn’t entirely her fault that she brought in several consecutive scenes without so much as a cross word for conflict. The writer said, “I thought I had it figured out but now I feel like I’m back at square one.” In my enthusiasm for scene writing, I forgot to remind students that timing is everything. Narrative pacing, as it’s known, looks like peaks and valleys on the story arc. Give your reader just enough “nice” stuff so they don’t see the conflict coming. Write calmer scenes to give relief from a lot of action (called a sequel), but don’t back off from the overall tension. In general scenes with little conflict have only two options: Increase the tension or ditch the scene. Narrative pacing means you give your readers the right amount of action, let them relax a bit (sequel) before plunging them back into the fray, with more conflict than ever. Keep your characters’ feet to the flames. Remember: Conflict on Every Page.
Writing Tip for Today: Take a look at your most recent pages. Is there conflict on every page? Can you spot places where you are letting your character off the hook and/or solving the problems too easily? Revise these places. As Elmore Leonard said, “When you write just leave out the boring stuff.” Scenes with little conflict are boring.

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1 comment on “Conflict on Every Page

  1. Linda,
    Enjoyed class last night as always. Have fun at your writing conference this weekend and in your yard. Hoping for nice weather.

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