Thursday, February 26, 2015

Perils of the Writer: Outer Conflict in Defining Character

Outer conflict is easy, especially when you're writing a character whose go-to solution to problems is "punch in the face".  Of course, "punch in the face" is rarely an effective long-term solution for anything, and more often than not, conflict escalates. 
Of course, why a character gets into conflicts in the first place, and how they react to that escalation are crucial defining points for your main character.
That is part of why the Twelve Part Outline Structure* has "Investment" as one of the structural points.  The quick version of that is your character could be able to just walk away from the conflict, but doesn't.  Joining back into the fray is an active choice.  Stepping into the proverbial ring needs to be a source of agency.
That's what your outer conflict needs to bring to characters: the active choices they make.  Give the reader the sense that the character is deciding what they're going to do, rather than the story itself dragging them along by the nose.
All right, I've got a hundred and seven things to do before going to Connooga tomorrow, so I'll see you in the word mines.
*- I will be writing an extended post about that in the near future.

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