Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's not a Competition or Is It?

#writetip #amwriting #conflict #competition

Once again, I remember back to my golden school days spent in private education. I lived for spelling bee's, writing contests, and academic meets. I didn't always come in first place or second. Many white ribbons line my memory box. I was also on the swim team, earning countless colored ribbons over the years. Competition is good for the soul and good for your plot.

A heavy dose of competition is just what this red-headed runt needed back then. Sick of coming in second or last, I kicked it into high gear and won that reading contest in 4th or 5th grade. (competition) The next day, to my horror, the teacher had pinned another student's reading badge to the board for first place. (conflict) I wanted to kick that boy really hard in the shins! He always kicked me in P.E. whenever we played soccer. (more conflict) My teacher kept apologizing for the mistake. I think said boy had enough blue ribbons to decorate an entire soccer field. (more competition) I forgave my perfect teacher, performed a happy dance around the sulking boy and refrained from kicking him.(resolution!)

As a mother, I don't like to see bad things happen to my children. But I also know disappointments, mistakes and suffering can help motivate them to do better the next time. At first, I found it very difficult to include conflict and tension in writing. Once I started, and realized my fictional characters won't feel a thing, it got easier. Insert evil laugh. Now, I hunt for ways to make my characters pay the price to be in my novels. Is there something wrong with me? I keep telling myself not to worry about it. They'll get over it.

Does competition play a big role in your story? Is the clock ticking? (But, please refrain from actually writing "the clock is ticking"!! ) If you are writing for a younger audience (mid-grade/YA), competition is key. Who or what is your MC competing against? Time, a bully, a team, his best friend, an alien world full of, well, aliens? Increase the tension and conflict by adding this element to your novel. The rush of competition will catapult your story forward with nothing better than pure adrenaline.

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