Using Characterization for Conflict

I have a problem with conflict in my novels. Not big, overarching conflict, but micro conflict. If you want a page-turner,  you should have conflict on every page. How do you do that in a natural, non-forced way??

An easy way is by giving essential characters opposite strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Or, give them the same ones. Think about it – in real life, you end up having problems with people who are way different than you, OR those who are a lot like you (we tend to hate the flaws in ourselves the most, right?)

I’ve been writing family stories lately, where two characters are essential to the plot.  The first was a grandmother and grand daughter, my current WIP, is two sisters.

Try this, before you begin writing a new project. It might help you to not only get to know your characters, but it can help you find a way to put more conflict in your  writing.

knew I used this technique, but I didn’t realize how much, until I wrote a list of what I knew about these two sisters:

CJ                                                                             Maizey

Age: 25                                                                Age: 9

Jaded                                                                   Naïve

Athletic, compact build                                    Long and bony

Self esteem/guilt issues                                    Idolizes her older sister

Grew up with self-centered mother               Ditto

Never knew her father                                      Ditto (different father)

Lives in the real world                                      Lives in her head

Street smart                                                        Book smart

Organized  thinker                                            Absent minded professor type


You can see how the above would make conflict on every page easy. They come from the same background, but because they think differently, and have had different experiences, they see their home life very differently. That can be a surprise to each when they discover that, as well as a source of conflict.

And the really cool thing about this, is that they can learn so much about the life they don’t have, by seeing things through their sisters’ eyes.

I love it when a plan comes together.

How do you get conflict on every page?

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