I’m at the point in my current work in progress where I need to amp up the conflict STAT. Everyone approaches writing differently, but normally when I’m trying to work out the beginning of a new story I think about two things: What’s going to happen and who is it going to happen to?
That seems rather elementary, but I’ve discovered that the more I write, the more complex it becomes and that’s okay. I mean, a story about one thing that happens to one person is a good start but then what? As someone who was raised watching daytime “stories”, I learned rather quickly that lots of twists and turns, when handled deftly, can keep audiences enthralled for years.
In my personal life, I have a pretty stringent no-drama policy. Not that I run away when it rears its head, but thankfully I have learned to squash it pretty quickly and without police involvement. So while this keeps things pretty zen, it’s not exactly rich conflict-mining material.
To find those times when high-stakes drama was the norm, I must harken back to my teens and early 20s when I practically made a career of it. Sometimes I was the Passive Observer, sometimes the Chief Shit-Stirrer, but always right in the midst. I’m not proud of that legacy, but it definitely gives me a cornucopia of situations to draw inspiration from!
I gave a quick run-down of the conflict I’d just written (Stolen kisses! Illicit hookups! Fire!) to one of my friends and she said, “How do you come up with this stuff?” When I told her it was largely based on real-life events, she laughed, “You know all of the crazy people.”
That’s because I was one of them.