Linda’s blog July 13th
Are you and your characters just too comfortable? I know it’s a lovely feeling, being comfortable. For me, it’s settling into a comfy chair, with a glass of something, a few nibbles and either a book or a TV programme. Or it’s getting together with family or friends that you are – well – comfortable with: easy conversation, shared memories, old jokes.
However, comfortable doesn’t make for exciting reading. Your characters cannot be comfortable. There’s no story in comfortable.
CONFLICT, at the heart of all stories, doesn’t have to be bombs, car chases and arguments. Just take your character out of their comfort zone and there’s your conflict.
A good exercise on this topic is to list where and when YOU feel uncomfortable, anxious or awkward. My list goes something like: the dentist; hospitals; going to an interview; going somewhere completely new; being late for an appointment; stuck in traffic; being faced with an unexpected bill; witnessing other people arguing.
Any of those situations could be the starting point of CONFLICT in a story.
We are basically creatures of habit. Anything out of the ordinary, away from our daily routine, and we can feel uncomfortable. On occasions, we seek out new experiences, for holidays, fun, for a bit of a change. But unexpected changes can leave us feeling out-of-sorts. So if our bus/train/lift doesn’t arrive on time, we feel anxious. If our partner/child isn’t home when we get back, uncomfortable might quickly change to concern and then panic. If we get to work to find we’ve been allocated a new team, desk or office, we might easily feel uncomfortable and uneasy.
Try taking your next character out of their comfort zone and see where the conflict leads ….
Getting out of your comfort zone can also apply to your type of writing. If you usually write short stories, why not try an article? Or a poem? If you’ve never written a 500-word flash fiction story, why not give it a go? Venturing out of our own routines and genres is a useful exercise: it gives us a break from what we usually do, and it can open up completely new opportunities that we didn’t realise were there for us.
Do have a go at this week’s writing prompts. Click here.
Have a great week.