Monday, May 2, 2016

The More You Know, The Less You'll Pay: Part III - Conflict, Resolution, & Loose Ends

by Alycia W. Morales

As authors, we're always looking for ways to save money and time. This is the third post in a series that is meant to help you save both. On the front end, putting forth the effort to learn these points will cost you some time, but in the long run, it will save you money on professional edits.

Last week, we began discussing character development and went over character arc, flat characters, and motivation. This week, we'll take a look at conflict, resolution, and loose ends.


There are two types of conflict: internal and external.

Internal conflict is something the character is dealing with inside of themselves. Think of it as an internal struggle. We all experience them. Our spirit battles with our flesh.

We know we shouldn't eat that doughnut because we need to lose weight, yet our desire for that delicious treat overcomes our desire to be healthy and we consume it. This is a setback in our weight-loss goal, because we just put on a pound we'd worked so hard to lose.

What is your character battling inside? What does he or she know is morally right, yet they can't help but do the opposite? This is your character's internal conflict.

External conflict is something outside of your character that continues to prevent them from reaching their goal or making that change in their life. External conflicts are often beyond our control. They are events or other people who come against what we're trying to accomplish. Yet, these too can be overcome, even when we don't feel like they can. These are what cause a character's setbacks as they try to achieve their goal.

When a novel lacks these types of conflict, the characters and the plot fall flat. Without conflict, the reader won't want to turn the page. There will be no hook to keep them reading.

Make sure you've defined both your character's internal and external conflicts and that everything they think and say and do drives them forward through the story toward overcoming these conflicts.

Along with conflict, there must be resolution. Your character must overcome both the internal and external conflict before the story ends. Whether this happens in one book or over the course of many in a series is up to you. Usually in a series, they'll overcome some conflict in each book.

Imagine you've gotten into a huge fight with someone you're close to. Whatever you're fighting over is your conflict. What is your point of contention? What needs to happen to resolve that conflict? Do you need to let go of your opinion for the greater good of your relationship? Does one of you need to forgive the other? Do you need to end a friendship because of a great betrayal?

Whatever needs to happen to come to an agreement must happen so there is resolution.

Resolution brings finality.

Loose Ends

Before you finish editing your story, you need to go back through and make sure you've tied up any loose ends in your plot. Everything you mention throughout your story must be followed through on.

Did you mention a court date in chapter three? Make sure it happens before the end of the novel.
Did you mention she struggles with depression? Make sure she's either committed to counseling or has found a way to get past it by the end.
Did you mention he couldn't figure out the answer to the riddle at the beginning? Make sure he's figured it out by the end.

The reader will be watching to make sure you've tied up every detail of your story. Don't leave any threads hanging, or your plot may unravel.

What are your characters' internal and external conflicts? What can they do to bring resolution to those conflicts? Have you tied up all the loose ends in your story? Give us an example from your WIP in the comments. We'd love to meet your characters! 


A simple look at conflict, resolution, & tying up loose ends. {Click to Tweet}

What battle has your character entered into & what can they do to resolve it? Conflict & Resolution. #amwriting

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