Without conflict there isn’t a story. We’ve all heard this maxim yet, true as it is, and yet some follow it more than others. I know that in a lot of best-selling fantasy authors (Robin Hobbs and Brent Weeks immediately spring to mind), there is always some form of conflict on the page. It is almost as though they look at each plot point and think to themselves – what conflict could come from this? What is the worst reaction that this character could have? What is the best reaction that also has the worst repercussions? An almost exhausting labrynthe of twisting conflicts normally ensue where people clash again and again in an almost dizzying dance of pain and splendor.
It has been suggested that such complex sets of conflicts are the recipe to a best-selling, ‘unputdownable’ novel. But how often do our stories follow such formats? How often do we let our protagonist off easy? How often do we identify the potential conflicts lying between our characters and then play off them?
I guess one trick would be to actually ask ourselves those questions as we work and then force ourselves as authors to face the true repercussions.