Writing Fantasy || Conflict

Writing Conflict Into Your Novel

So you have a nice fantasy/fiction story going on and you have a happy ending. Guess what? We’re going to turn that all upside down now! Get ready to throw your readers a curveball and upset the apple cart. Every story needs conflict – even children’s stories. Think about it. Where would Little Red Riding Hood be without the big bad wolf? We all love a villain to hate.

Writing Conflict
Little Red Riding Hood and the Fox

 

10 Things To Consider Before Writing Conflict

Some elements to think about as you write the outline of your conflict.

  1. What motivates both your hero and the villain so they’re drawn into the upcoming conflict?
  • Love
  • Greed
  • Pride
  • Anger
  • Duty
  • Other ideas…

 

  1. What keeps your hero and villain locked together in this conflict?
  • Past History
  • Jealousy
  • Mutual Love Interest
  • Loss of Someone or Something
  • Misunderstanding
  • Other ideas…

12 Key Elements On Writing Conflict

Your hero tries to understand what just happened in the inciting event and what it means to them and their way of life. This is the start of Act 2.

  1. Reveal the power of the antagonist (villain) and the true nature of the conflict arising.
  2. The hero begins to recognize what’s at stake and searches for ways to fight the battle.
  3. Your hero recognizes the true reason behind the conflict.
  4. With new knowledge and understanding, your hero gains headway in the conflict.
  5. Foreshadows Act 3 (sets up the base for what’s coming next) and reminds the hero what’s at stake. (We’ll look at foreshadowing more later).
  6. Your hero rallies everything they’ve got and launches it against the enemy with a seeming
  7. A defeat for your hero after the seeming victory in Act 2. This begins Act 3.
  8. The hero questions their goal, commitment and choices. They begin to doubt themselves and their ability to win the battle.
  9. Your hero comes face to face with the enemy.
  10. The next event is a duel to the death for the hero and the villain. This can be physically or metaphorically. The reader needs to be kept on the edge of their seat here because they know one or the other will lose.
  11. The hero wins and the conflict is ended.
  12. The ending of your story should give the reader ‘breathing space’ and ease them into the hero’s new reality.

 

Watch a favourite movie – it doesn’t need to be fantasy – and see how the conflict escalates and is resolved.

 

 Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.

Lynne

 

Resources

The Hobbit -The Battle of the Five Armies

Maleficent

Divergent

Writing Fantasy || Story Arc

What Is a Story Arc?

Most best-sellers and box-office hits have a main character that goes through an enormous transformation and either becomes a hero or ends up becoming a villain. (Anakin as he turns to the Dark Side). The result is what keeps us talking about it long after the story has ended and we’ve slid back into our own reality. It’s this change that intrigues the audience and keeps them riveted to the story, not wanting to put the book down or leave the theatre for a refill of popcorn for fear of missing something huge.

Darth Vader
Darth Vader

4 Key Elements For Character Arc

Award-winning novelists seem to agree that there are four key elements to a character arc which drives a compelling story arc.

  1. Need
  2. Yearning
  3. Weakness
  4. Desire
  • Your story will usually begin with your main protagonist and their setting. His life lacks something he needs and causes a sense of something unfulfilled.
  • The need may be fuelled by a yearning which he may or may not be aware of.
  • The yearning may come from a backstory that caused them to feel weakened by a loss of love, ability, or perhaps a sense of purpose, and makes them fearful, limited by their circumstances and feeling unable to change. The yearning is most likely to be the opposite of what the protagonist’s life is like now. Identify their yearning in a single sentence and let that drive the story arc, for example, he wants to be free (of something or someone), to find true love, to go home again (or make a home for himself).
  • Something happens to your protagonist that changes their view on their daily life and stirs a desire for change. This is the Inciting Event.

This will all happen in Act 1. After the event that happens to your hero to stir their desire, you’ll be ready to think about your story arc and which scenes belong in Act 2. This took me some time to figure out, but I think I have the most important points now. Remember we’re not writing yet, just outlining. Simple point form or one-sentence sticky notes will do.

The Anticipated Conflict

Create intensity towards the anticipated conflict. About a quarter of the way into your novel, the hero will be frantically searching for a reason behind the villain’s antagonism. The hero may not yet realize there’s an underlying cause for the building conflict, or they may have a vague idea but not yet know what’s at stake. The villain may still be taunting the hero to make them give up and turn back.

Before the halfway point of your story, the hero will realize the true nature of the conflict which is imminent and the ultimate power of the villain. Do your notes on story arc build up to your halfway conflict? Include your notes on the hero’s personality and flaws that hold them back, how their mentor tries to persuade them to believe the truth, plot twists, and some fun scenes with their companions for comic relief (The Avengers).

Next time we’ll look at how to generate conflict and why it propels the story.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.

Lynne

 

Resources:

Personality Types 

Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The Avengers

 

 

 

Writing Fantasy || Outlining Scenes

3 Main Components of a Novel

All great stories have three main components:

  • A Beginning – The comfort zone of the protagonist and the inevitable separation
  • A Middle – Resistance of the oncoming event and the struggles moving forward
  • An End – The hero’s transformation and return to a new normal

 

Organizing for writers
Organizing Your Work

Use whatever method you’ve discovered works for you as you collect your ideas for your epic fantasy story; sticky notes, mobile device, notebook, dry-erase board, whatever. Use something you can manipulate. You’re going to want to move things around when you realize a particular scene needs to switch from the beginning to the middle, for example.

 

For this reason, I like to colour-code the scenes once I figure out where they belong. Highlighting them makes it easier to spot them in the array of my imagination on the screen. Then write, write, write!

Every scene that’s been playing around in your head and kept you awake all night or distracted you during a sermon (it’s ok, it was God who gave you your imagination so He’ll forgive you if it veers you off once in a while). Then put them under the headings Beginning, Middle and End, or if you prefer, Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3.

Once that’s done, rearrange your scenes in the order you think they need to happen.

Remember you’re only writing what’s going to happen in your scenes, not the entire scene right now. This is extremely important if you’re using these blogs to prep for NaNoWriMo where you’ll need to write 50,000 words in 30 days. These blogs are about outlining (preparation) before you actually start the writing process.

The Beginning – Act 1

Begin at the beginning. Sounds like a good idea – very logical. The beginning is where all the groundwork for your story belongs. Here too, you introduce your reader to the when and where of your story. So here is where you put your world-mapping and world-building ideas and make them into scenes (something happening at the time and place in the world you’re describing). Write one or two sentences about what your scene will be.

The Status Quo

Introduce your main protagonist (hero) in their normal everyday life and the world they live in. (In LOTR, Frodo is a Hobbit who lives in a small house in a shire. He loves life and he likes people).

The Catalyst

The event that calls the hero to act on something and leave their status quo. (His uncle vanishes and leaves Frodo a magical ring).

They embark on a journey, either physically or emotionally. Usually, in fantasy, it’s a journey away from home. (In LOTR, Frodo sets out on his adventure).

The Denial

Your hero rejects the quest at first either from fear, hesitation or pride. (Frodo is reluctant to leave his comfortable life).

The Mentor

Your hero will need a mentor, someone who has experience and wisdom which will prove vital to the hero on their journey. Introduce the mentor here. (Gandalf is Frodo’s mentor as he leads him on the adventure).

The mentor will aid the hero through some sort of transformation.

Acceptance and Action

Introduce minor characters but introduce one at a time to give your reader a chance to familiarize themselves with everyone in the story. (In LOTR, we’re introduced to Sam, Pippin and Merry).

Their journey begins.

“Don’t do a lot of world-building before you start writing. Do just enough to get the basics clear in your mind, then let the characters reveal things to you as you work”. – J. Anderson Coats, author of The Wicked and the Just. 

 

The Middle – Act 2  Trials, Tribulations, Friends and Foes

The Edge of the Abyss

Your hero will encounter all of the above; characters who will help your hero or hinder their quest. There will be tests to determine who is a friend and who is a foe. (Orcs, a stranger who becomes a good friend and ally, dark riders on horseback).

Your hero will need to decide if they will carry on with the quest, turn back, or run. There is a crisis. (Frodo has a crisis of courage, feeling that he cannot go on).

“Write short, sharp, heart-clutching scenes that propel your characters through conflict, adventure and resolution. Let your characters guide you”. – Elizabeth Sims, Novelist, Writing Coach and Editor.

 

The End – Act 3  The Climax and The New Normal

The Climax

Your hero faces their biggest test/fear in a confrontation with death or another big event. (Frodo knows he needs to destroy the ring but it beckons him, and he shows his weakness).

The Resolution and Reward

Your hero earns the prize and journeys home or on to a new normal. (Frodo goes back to the Shire, but his life will never be the same).

Rearrange your scenes until you’re satisfied with the order they’re in so the story outline starts to make sense to you. Fill in the Middle with several action-packed scene ideas. As always, learn from the masters by reading fantasy and watching fantasy movies. Keep a notepad handy and try to draw out of the story all the points in this blog.

How is your novel organizing coming along? Would a novel planner help? After I wrote my first rough draft of my first novel for NaNoWriMo I created a planner along with my super talented graphic designer, Kirstie Shanks. It’s now available on Amazon. It’s also available as a printable version in my White Rose Writers Etsy shop. (White Rose Writers – The Business Of Being An Author is my source of income).

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.

Lynne