The Secret to Creating Conflict

We often think that to create conflict we need to show spectacular events. For example, a car chase, an argument between lovers, a fistfight, or the threat of a nuclear explosion. Or we think of conflict as some kind of internal suffering: depression, longing, or pain.

But the truth is that if events and emotions were the only elements of conflict in our stories, we’d have some pretty flat stories.

Conflict, in good stories, is not about spectacular events or painful emotions. Good conflict is about values.

GoldWhat is a Value

When you hear the word value in this context, you might think of “family values,” or in other words, morals. While morality is crucial to storytelling, morals aren’t what I mean by value.

Let’s simplify it. A value is something you admire, something you want. If I value something, it means I think it’s good.

Here are some examples of things you might value:

  • Money / Wealth
  • Friends
  • Your little brother
  • Getting good grades
  • Organization
  • Justice
  • Compassion
  • Ferraris
  • The Environment
  • Productivity
  • Power
  • Humility

Think about a few of your favorite protagonists. What do they value?

For example, Elizabeth Bennet, our heroine from Pride & Prejudice, values honesty, humility, intelligence, kindness, and her family (am I missing any?). Her conflict with Mr. Darcy was on the basis of these values. She thought he was dishonest, prideful, rude, and worst of all, he “ruined the happiness of a most beloved sister.”

When Good People Create Conflict

You don’t need a villain to create conflict. Most conflict comes about between two positive values that conflict.

In our example of Pride & Prejudice, looming above the whole story is the value of marriage and love. Mrs. Bennet wants all her daughters to get married. The daughters want to get married too, but only if they’re in love… and preferably in love with someone wealthy (another central value in the story).

Marriage, love, and wealth are all positive values. They’re values most of us would agree with! However, figuring out how to adhere to all of those values at once is incredibly difficult, and in Pride & Prejudice, we get to watch the characters try, fail, and then finally succeed at achieving all of these good but conflicting values.

There can even be conflicts within a single value.

All of the Bennet daughters value love, but what does love even mean? Does it count when the object of your affection isn’t respectable? Is foolish passion still love? What if you love knowledge and books more than people? What if you make a marriage of convenience and end up loving your lifestyle but not your spouse? Is that okay? Those are all conflicts raised within the single value of love.

How To Create Conflict in Your Story

To create conflict within your own story, ask yourself the following questions:

What does your main character value?
Do any of his values potentially conflict?
How can you reveal the conflicts in those values?
Do any of his values conflict with themselves?
How can you delve into the complications of that single value?

A Note About Villains

While your story may not need a villain to have conflict, it’s always fun to have one. A villain is a character who has the opposite values as those of your main character.

For example, Batman values justice and order. Joker values crime and chaos. Frodo values his friends and the peace of the Shire. Sauron values power at the cost of relationship and beauty.

To create the perfect villain, figure out what your main character values. Then, wist those values into some hideous shape and set the characters loose on each other.

Who are some of your favorite characters? What do they value and how are those values tested?

PRACTICE

Write a short scene showing one of your character’s values. Then test that value, either with another positive value or by negating that value.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to comment on a few practices other writers.

Good luck!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    Emilee’s lips moved but Jim couldn’t hear what she said. He leaned over and put his ear so close to her mouth that he felt her breath.

    “No,” she said.

    “No what?”

    “All.” Her sentences were impossible to piece together.

    “I know it’s scary, Em, but you’re in good hands. We’re going to take care of you.”

    “Die.”

    “Look at me. You are not going to die.”

    “Promise?”

    Jim hesitated. He had a personal rule never to make promises he couldn’t keep,
    especially not to patients about treatment. After all, Emilee would die someday
    and it could easily be on the operating table that afternoon. “Promise.”

    • http://twitter.com/1stwordproblems Jeff Ellis

      Great way to show two positives , honesty and compassion, clashing. Good job Katie!

      • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

        Well said, Jeff. That’s what I was thinking.

    • EspressoMutt

      Short and to the point. Excellent!

    • Phoebe

      I loved that! Are you an author by any chance?

  • Marc

    I believe in extra-terrestrials. Not that there is life on other planets or worlds beyond our own. That’s a given. It’s like saying you need lemons to make a lemonade. People know lemonade is made up of lemons. What I’m saying is I believe aliens are here, on Earth, flying around in circular craft.

    I usually look up at the sky, hoping that one day I’ll see that elusive silver disc.
    Maybe it’ll be close enough for me to see it in detail. I’ve heard many stories, including one from my aunt, where they saw a colorful star-like object in the sky. That says nothing. I want to see one up close. Heck, I want to see the aliens. So fascinated by little gray men that I can’t help buying every book on alien abductions I lay my hands on.

    Just imagine you’re in bed and wake up in the middle of the night. Your
    bedroom door is closed but you see the doorknob turning. The door slowly creaks open and peering through the small opening is a large pear-shaped gray head with two large almond shaped eyes. I can’t possibly imagine what alien abductees have been through. I’d imagine it’s scary, but nonetheless a revelation in and of itself. Something most of us would never get the chance to experience.

    But there is something sad in all this. No matter how much I believe
    aliens exist, whenever I ask a friend or family member, they try to shoot me
    down. Last time I brought up the topic of aliens and flying saucers, a friend of mine shook his head and said it could be anything. I found a video on YouTube
    which shows a disc shaped object hovering over the Mediterranean sea and when
    the camera zooms in you could see two figures with large gray heads and black
    eyes. Eager to convince my brother and his girlfriend, I show them the video.
    But my brother jumps to another website showing a drone fighter used in
    Afghanistan and makes the claim that the disc is not a flying saucer but one of
    the drones.

    “How about the aliens?” I ask him.

    “Anyone could’ve Photoshopped the image.”

    He doesn’t convince me. Even though the video could be one of many
    hoaxes, out there somewhere, aliens are flying the skies and making their
    presence known to a select few. How I’d like to be able to see one of them someday.

    • plumjoppa

      As a big X-Files fan, I really like this.

    • Patrick Marchand

      I love the concept of aliens (Except if they go all XCOM on us)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Nice practice, Marc. So what’s the value? Aliens? Or the belief in aliens? And the negation of the value is his friend’s lack of belief?

      • Marc

        You got it. It’s belief in aliens, the excitement at the thought that aliens might be here. The negation is the narrator’s friends saying otherwise. I came up with this on the fly, right after reading your post so it doesn’t go too in depth as to why the narrator has those values. It’s also lacking more action, which I tried adding some in the end.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          Interesting. Belief or faith, in other words, is an interesting thing to value, especially in our skeptical culture. I wonder how this would change if the character valued the aliens themselves, and the belief in them was a given. So rather than, “I believe in extra-terrestrials,” it would be, “I love extra terrestrials.”

  • http://twitter.com/JasonZiebart Jason Ziebart

    There were only two sounds: the persistent high buzz of the half-dimmed lights dangling from the chrome light fixture and the repetitious sloshing of the dish-washer droning in the kitchen.

    I sat on the fading, tan couch with feet tucked to the left. My right elbow braced my weight against the threadbare arm of my current dais. Book in hand, I was stoically poised for the long, afternoon read. I was a monk in meditation.

    Five minutes into my trance, the door connecting the kitchen to the garage met the refrigerator for the eighty-third time. Trust me, I’ve counted the dents. A young, squeaky voice rattled along the walls and crumbled my resolve. Consoling the child whose friend wouldn’t share a stick became a priority.

    Time dissolved without notice, and as I was chopping onions for a stew, I looked up and saw the scarlet book spread open, face-down on the couch, soaking in the feeble rays of electric light. I smeared a tear with the back of my hand and resumed my work, not knowing when another monastic moment would find me again.

    • plumjoppa

      Nice job showing the conflict between what we value and what must be done.

    • EspressoMutt

      Wow, beautiful. Very poignant, and I know a lot of people can relate to this feeling.

      • http://twitter.com/JasonZiebart Jason Ziebart

        Thanks. I hope I can one day give them hope that they are not alone.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      This is funny, Jason. Poor guy. He just wants solitude and contemplation, and he’s stuck in the messiness of modern life. It’s a little hyperbolic (monk in meditation, the tear), although I’m sure that was the point. :)

      • http://twitter.com/JasonZiebart Jason Ziebart

        My life is one cliched hyperbole after another, Joe. And the tear is from the onions. Maybe.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          Duh. Don’t know how I missed that. Very funny, señor.

  • http://twitter.com/thecharlesiwas Charles T Franklin

    He stood looking at the gun, staring at it silently. He didn’t want to fight this battle this way, but there was no other choice. There were people’s lifes at stake, people that he cared about, especially Krista.

    “I can’t even be sure this is the right guy. Maybe you got it wrong. You know, you helped me.” He said aloud as he shifted from his silent reflection into a nervous pace.

    His target didn’t see him. Outside Governor Douglas was relaxed in a lawn chair out back with a half of can of Coke watching his two little girls attempt to do cartwheels, courtesy of their new friends at school.

    “Watch me, Daddy.” Tara said.

    “No, Dad. Watch me” her sister yelled back as she tried to wriggle in front of Tara to get her father’s attention. “I can do it better”

    Inside Governor’s Douglas house, Alex was still pacing. Something had to be wrong. There was no way that this man could have been dangerous as the omens had said he was. Perhaps he needed to check them again.

    He reached in his pocket and pulled out the all too-familiar wreath made of bone. He sat down and crossed his legs and closed his eyes. Within seconds, he began murmuring the chant.

    Moments later, he awoke on the Other Side. Once his consciousness settled, he saw the last person he wanted to see, Hypno.

    “:I can’t do it” Alex said resolutely, “I won’t.”

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Very nice, Charles. So the value is the people he loves (and wants to protect), on one side, and compassion on the other side. Two positive values put into conflict. Very nice.

      This part was backstory: “There were people’s lifes at stake, people that he cared about, especially Krista.” In a normal scene, you’d want to get rid of that and show it instead. But for the purposes of this practice it’s fine.

      Great job! :)

  • EspressoMutt

    Loneliness. It could happen to anyone.
    Lately, it had overwhelmed me. Weighing me down. Barnaby’s warmth is
    the only thing keeping me sane, I know, but it’s just not the same.
    Today, though, I have dragged myself out of bed, tugged on my
    clothes, and opened up to the crowded world.

    “Our new friend is coming over
    today,” I say, “So, we have to be good.”

    He answers with a toothy grin and a
    wagging tail.

    A rapid knocking and he jumps about my
    feet excitedly.

    “Hi,” I say, only a bit nervously,
    as I pull open the door. “Come on in.”

    “Thanks for inviting me over,” is
    the reply. Dusty flip-flops on the newly-mopped floor. Shiny
    hot-pink fingernails.

    “Yeah,” I say, stepping back and
    closing the door. “I’m really glad to hang out with you.”

    “Oh.” A sudden hint of disgust.
    “What’s that?”

    “That’s Barnaby.” I reply with an
    affectionate glance. He offers his lolling pink tongue and
    enthusiastic wiggling.

    Then, “I don’t like dogs.”

    “…Oh.” Hesitantly, I glance down
    at the huge brown eyes that just can’t understand, and I give up.

    • http://twitter.com/whovian223 Dave Roy

      Wow, that is a great way to leave it, just introducing the conflict and knowing that things are not going to go well from there.

      • http://twitter.com/JasonZiebart Jason Ziebart

        Awesome. Conundrum central! Man’s best friend must prevail.

  • Patrick Marchand

    All alone in the vestibule of the Papal palace, the Duke of Barcelona was sitting on a richly decorated french divan.. or fauteuil.. or whatever those buffoons called a chair. The power of the Vatican was unabashedly flaunted all over the room, everywhere there where colourful tapestries, ceremonious arms and glorious statues, as if to awe visitors into the greatness of the kingdom of God. Personally, Ramon did not believe that an all mighty deity would bother with all those boring decorations, but he wasn’t the one who was going to tell them that!

    Since it did not seem like he was going to be granted an audience for some time still, he decided to take the time to review the mission that took him here, to this most holy of cities. His royalness, King Sancho Jimena of Aragon had asked him to go to Rome and plead for the military and religious support of the Pope in his war against the Muslim emirates that plagued his beloved Spain, a war that was bringing so much hope that some nobles had started to call it the ” Reconquista de Hibernia ”. The Duke knew that his mission was of the utmost importance, because without that support, the war would fail and any hope of ever being free from the heathens rule would be lost forever. But if he managed to succeed, then Spain would once again be free and united under a real Castillian king!

    Spotting the arms of Frankfurt on a tapestry, he immediately thought about the flaw in his King’s plan, the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, spotting an opportunity to expand his power, had been sending envoys all over christian Europe, shouting far and wide that he would take care of the Muslim menace if only the puny castillian Kings would accept his help. If the Kaiser managed to bring enough nobles to support his claim then his King and his allies would have no choice but to bow down to his authority and then everything would have been for naught, instead of being Moorish, Iberia would be German!

    As that black cloud hung over his mind, a page arrived and told him that his Holiness would see him now. The big curved doors of the courtroom swung open and as Ramon entered he crossed a man in rich black and gold robes. « Why, hello there dear Duke! My Kaiser will be glad to hear that you seek the council of the Pope as well.. » The man said, before slowly leaving the room. The smile on his face sent a shiver down Ramon’s spine, what had just gone down here? Was he too late?

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      This is complicated! So the value in the first paragraph is wealth, and then it’s negated by phoniness. The value in the second paragraph is freedom. Then, it’s negated by lack of freedom. Would you say that’s right? I wonder if it would be more powerful if you just focused on one for this scene?

      • Patrick Marchand

        Possibly, what I was trying to do is establish that wealth and power meant nothing to the character if they took away his freedom, the wealth of the church made it vulnerable to decadence and the ambition of the Empire established it as a possible actor of that decadence.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          Nice. I like that.

  • http://twitter.com/whovian223 Dave Roy

    I sat at the bar, nursing my third beer of the night. The television on the far wall was showing some football game between two teams I wasn’t familiar with. Patrons sat at most of the tables talking animatedly about their weeks, or their love lives, or whatever came to mind. Waitresses slipped between the crowds, expertly keeping their drink trays horizontal, not spilling a drop. Music drowned out almost everything, creating a miasma of noise that made it hard to think.

    I looked at the bartender, a tall brunette dressed in a red t-shirt with the tavern’s logo on it and tight-fitting jeans, smiling as she took orders from the customers who shared the bar with me. Her long dark hair was pinned up nicely, exposing her neck in a very attractive manner. Some of the guys sitting at the bar around me were staring at her too, some with thinly disguised lust and others just wanting their beer.

    As she took an order from one of the guys who was leering at her, she leaned in so she could hear him. She laughed, poured two glasses full of beer, and placed them on the bar in front of him. He said something else and she had to lean in again. His eyes darted to her chest before moving back to her eyes as he spoke. She smiled again and said something in that matter-of-fact way that I was intimately familiar with from my time trying to pick up women in bars.

    The “that’s sweet, but I’ve got better things to do than go home with you” way.

    I downed the rest of my beer in one gulp and stood up. I waved to her and her startled smile lit up as she noticed. The love in her eyes was evident as she waved back, even to this misguided man. I put on my coat and walked out the door.

    She would be coming home to me when the night was over. And home was a much better place to work on overcoming this pointless jealousy than actually sitting there and watching her work.

    That smile had been all the evidence I needed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

      I really enjoyed this, how you totally fooled the reader. Great!

      • http://twitter.com/whovian223 Dave Roy

        Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback.

        • Davey Bee

          I like. It could go so many places too. In fact, I was kind of imagining that brass chime sound and the start of a Law & Order episode. Enter frantic husband who’s wife went missing after her shift…of course it’s almost always the husband and an insurance scam…

  • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

    Joe, I *love* this post. Along there with the different parts of story (action, dialogue, etc) which adds new insight into my writing. Thanks!

    Firelights cracked through the sky like gunfire. Jessy looked at the side of Wayne’s face and in the reflection of the blasts, there was something sinister about his high cheeks. She covered her shoulders with the dainty evening shawl she’d bought from Woolworths especially for tonight.

    ‘That’s pretty impressive,’ Wayne said, slipping his arm around her waist.

    She wanted to say no it’s not, that it’s too loud and I’ve never liked firecrackers since one lopped off my neighbours’ little finger. That they remind me of war and arrogance and men who carry their guns in their holsters because they need everyone’s jealousy.

    But instead she took his finger in hers. ‘Mmmhmmmm.’

    She averted her eyes from the blaze by trying to focus on the food in front of her. It was a man’s picnic – a hulk of chicken in the middle of the red and white checked table cloth (that was a nice touch, she had to admit), a tomato and cucumber in case she wanted to make her own salad and a six pack of Castle. In his haste not to miss the opening, he’d forgotten to bring the wine along, and the two plastic cups lay on the frayed edges of the blanket.

    ‘Wow, look at that one!’ Wayne said, pointing at the gaudy sky.

    She glanced up and then quickly back down. It hurt her eyes so she closed them and leaned against Wayne’s chest. There at least he couldn’t see that she wasn’t watching. If he knew how she hated this, he’d be gutted. Her aversion would be a personal assault against Wayne, a vote of no confidence in his taste, his personality and his ability to seduce not only her but any member of the female race. So she shut her eyes and let the lights flicker against her eyelids as she pretended that Smudge was sitting on her lap on the rainbow patchwork quilt her grandmother made for her when she was six.

    • Juliana Austen

      I love this Zoe – I think you expressed some innate male/female conflicts really well.

      • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

        Thank you, Juliana!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Zoe. I’m glad this helped. :)

      I love how you’ve shown the conflict between masculinity and femininity here. I think it’s interesting and clever to think about those as values, since so much of it is about cultural norms. Men value explosions, meat, inspiring envy in other men, beer, and seducing women. Women value daintiness, salads, cats, grandmothers, and… the feelings of their men. :) So much conflict in so little space. I love it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

        Thanks a lot Joe! Haha, the salad/meat conflict still rages in our house… although I’m finding an inroad through roasted vegetables!!! ;)

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          I do love roasted vegetables. :)

  • Lis

    Cory knew the bathroom needed to be cleaned. She also knew that once she started the bathroom she’d notice the baseboards that needed cleaning, the dirt on the walls and the carpet that needed vacuuming. I’ll get back to that she thought, can’t forget to take the salt dough ornaments out of the over.

    She looked disappointingly at the swollen dough. She’d hoped to make beautiful handmade ornaments as gifts this Christmas. This was now looking unlikely. She surveyed her “to do list” for the day, grab a coke, chocolate bar and some gummy bears. She began typing y..o..u.. then pressed enter once the auto-fill completed her destination. Maybe after this, she though, I’ll take a nap.

  • Lis

    Cory knew the bathroom needed to be cleaned. She also knew that once she started the bathroom she’d notice the baseboards, the dirt of the walls and the carpets that needed vacuuming I’ll get back to that, she thought… can’t forget to take the salt dough ornaments out of the oven.

    She looked disappointingly at the swollen dough. She’d hoped to make beautiful handmade ornaments as gifts this Christmas. This was now looking unlikely. She survey her “to do list” for the day, gabbed a coke, a chocolate bar and some gummy bears. Settling into the office chair, she begins typing y..o ..u then presses enter once auto-fill completes her destination. “Maybe after this I’ll take a nap.”

  • James Hall

    Excellent post! I would go further to say, think about what values are changing in your characters. You need Pre- and Post- values. Then, prioritize the values, which values does your character think are most important at the beginning. Contrast this with what they think is most important by the end of the story.

  • Danielle

    Just to let you know, I just love the name of your website. It’s so cool!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Danielle!

      Joe Bunting
      joebunting.com

  • thunderwolf788

    Just found this site recently and worked on your advice about values. Very helpful and this is what I came up with.

    Zander Cole valued his freedom. He valued his freedom so
    much; he knew he had to fight for it. Enlisting in the Army at Seventeen, he
    was so ecstatic and could not wait to get his first deployment. However, when
    he came home with the news, his father did not share his excitement. His father
    had plans for him and Zander knew that. But Zander did not like those plans. He
    felt he needed to do this. This was what he was put on this earth for. As he
    arrived home after enlisting, he ran through the house and called everyone down
    to the living room for a meeting.

    “Everyone, I have an announcement.” He stated as his mother
    Sharon, father Martin and sister Zara, sat on the leather couch in the family
    room.

    “Oh, what is that son?” Martin asked as he raised a curious eyebrow
    at him.

    “I’ve just been accepted in the army!”

    “Congratulations son!” Sharon
    said with a warm smile.

    His sister Zara rose from the couch and hugged her older
    brother, “Congrats bro! When do you leave?”

    Zander would not answer them until he got approval from his
    father as well.

    “Dad, why are you so silent?” Zander asked.

    “After everything I have done for you, this is how you repay
    me?” Martin asked with a bitter tone.

    Zander cocked his head at him.

    “Zander, how did you get permission to join? You need at
    least one parent’s consent and I did not allow this.”

    Martin glared at his wife.

    Zander gulped hard, he hoped this would not turn into a huge
    argument.

    “I allowed it Martin.” Sharon
    informed him.

    Martin tossed his hands up in the air. He grabbed the papers
    from his son and began to tear them up.

    “You are not joining the army! You are going to U of M in
    the fall. You are going to be a doctor!” Martin demanded.

    “This is what I value dad. I value our freedoms. I feel I
    must fight for them. You know I have always supported our troops ever since I
    could understand. This is what I want. You cannot control me anymore!”

    “I have worked twenty years to save every penny, so you
    could make something of yourself. How could you do this behind my back?” Martin
    yelled.

    “Because I knew this is how you would react.” Zander replied
    back.

    “Yeah, well, now you are throwing all of that away. I worked
    so hard to set money aside for you and Zara! At least Zara used it wisely.”

    “That’s right, daddy’s little girl, who is always the
    princess around this house. What is she sucking your dick?”

    Zander’s father smacked him hard across the face as Sharon
    walked in the foyer.

    “How dare you use that kind of language in this house? Out,
    get the hell out!”

    “I guess so!” Zander smirked.

    Zander grabbed his Army gear bag and tossed it over his
    shoulder. He hurried out of the house. He saw his sister hurry to him, but
    Martin held her back.

    “You’re not even going to let me say goodbye to my big
    brother?”

    “No, he is throwing his life away.” – Martin looked harshly
    at Zander – “If you leave, I will disown you!”

    Zara looked at her parents and Zander. She shrugged her
    shoulders. Zander came back in and Martin grabbed Zara. He held her tight.

    “You touch her and I will press charges Zander!”

    “I have a right to see him go!” Zara said.

    “No you don’t! You better take a good look at him, because
    he is never allowed back here again!” Martin said.

    Zara broke free from her father and ran after Zander.

    “Hey bro, here, this will always protect you. Hold onto it tight.
    Never let it go.”

    She handed him a black jewel bag.

    “What’s this?” Zander asked her.

    “It will you protect you and always bring you back to home.”
    She said with a bright smile.

    He opened the bag and pulled out the rosary, made from true
    mother of pearl beads strung with black silk string. The sun’s rays caught the
    beads and glistened with a magnificent glow. Her and their mother made it for
    him. They always knew he was troubled by bad spirits. They hoped the rosary
    would help him find his true way home.

    Zander smiled at his sister as she grabbed his hands and
    closed them together.

    “Remember this Zander, “The angels grant thee, the angels
    rescue me, angels please set me free, free me from my hard day, free me in
    every way, as I lay down to sleep, the angels guard my keep.”

    “Thank you sis.”

    Zander held his tears.

    Zara did too.

    Zander looked back at the house and gulped.

  • HAPPY DAYS

    lonliless sucks BIG PENUS

  • Lach Baniya

    Zoey’s cracked pale lips moved but Natasha couldn’t make a word out of it. So, she leaned in closer. Zoey’s mouth formed the words, but no sound would come. In order to grasp what actually she is trying to say in her drowsy state of disarray, Natasha leaned in closer so near to Zoey’s mouth that she could feel her respiration.

    “No”, she said.

    “No what?” Natasha asked.

    “Him” she mumbled in a weak voice.

    “Who?” Natasha asked absentmindedly only to regret what she asked. Because suddenly it hit her. Netasha became perplexed. She hesitated at the thought of it. She was suddenly in a state of confusion. She was unsure how to break the news to Natasha, her patient and an old friend, who went into a comatose for four years, surviving miraculously to a massive brain injury after a car accident.

    She wondered how hard it might be for Zoey to hear that her husband abandoned her in the state of coma and went off with another woman.

  • Doug

    This was excellent, succinct advice. I’ve been working on an idea for a novel in my head for quite awhile and this has been one of the major sticking points for me. I haven’t yet felt that I had sufficient conflict built into the world I’m creating to give the whole thing legs. This has helped shape my idea of what conflict should be, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be overt melodrama to work. Thanks!