it's Ask Annie Day over at Sited & Blogged!
Question: I have lots of great ideas and even some stories started. But then I seem to run out of steam, and even I lose interest. Or I get so frustrated, I just have to quit. What's wrong? How can I keep my stories going all the way to the end?
Answer: This is a common problem, and one I sometimes experience myself. It always feels to me that I've "run out of story," so to speak. That's when I've learn to back up, and add more conflict. Conflict is the heart of all drama and fiction. We dont' really care about people without conflicts - we may be happy for them, but we aren't so interested in reading about them. They don't hold our interest for very long. Like Tolstoy said, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, and that's what makes them interesting.
So when you find yourself "running out of story," go back to the beginning, and see where you can beef up the conflict. maybe the heroine isn't so happy about her job. maybe she just got handed a big assignment. maybe your hero isn't handsome. try taking away something that's really important to the character. maybe they have a great relationship with a really supportive friend. put that person out of the country. in other words, look for places where they can have problems. make sure that what they want is something they really care about. then show us how much they care about it, by upping the amount of conflict around their achieving the goal. john grisham's book The Firm is an excellent example of how to build tension and interest by heaping conflict after conflict around the main character.
Next week, I'll talk a bit more about the three levels of conflict as I like to think of them, and how you can move up and down the levels as a way to power up your plots. Until then... happy writing... annie