Saturday, April 12, 2014

K: King of the Hill

When you try to throw the person standing on top of a hill, off of the hill and take his place as "King of the Hill." What happened to all the cool kid games, that we played outside, like red rover, freeze tag and ghost in the graveyard? And what happened to all the merry-go-rounds? My son a few years back, flew off one and skinned off half his knee. Okay, those circular wheels of death needed to become extinct, but there seems to be fewer and fewer competitions in schools and in sports groups these days. Every one's a winner. No first place. Everyone gets a trophy or a medal or a certificate. Which, in some cases, I think can be a good thing. But not all the time. I've heard of some schools not even having a grading system. WHAT? How do you think I became a drug-free, happy, self-motivated adult? A little bit of conflict and a whole lotta competition.
And along those lines, let's discuss the two main things your novel needs: conflict and competition. Are you too easy on your characters? Are you turning up the heat? Or do you have an "every one's a winner" attitude? Are you playing it safe, like a mother hen protecting her little fluffies? One of the major overhauls I did to my WIP was to turn up the conflict. I had sufficient problems but my story lagged. I cranked up the heat by adding more competition for my MC. So, don't be afraid to heap problems and penalties on your MC along with a few more adrenaline laced scenes. He'll thank you later at the end of the book when he crosses the finish line in first place.

#atozchallenge #amwriting #kids

Don't I look all sweet and innocent? (I can't even keep a straight face as I type this!)


  1. Oh my golly gosh! How super cute! I'm probably a bit too hard on my characters at time--then again, I feel overcoming adversities makes for great writing and a great read.

  2. Great post for the letter 'K' :)

  3. I hated Red Rover. Hated. That game was awful.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

  4. Hah! Yeah, something is wrong when they don't even keep score at soccer games or run championships. There's definitely a power in competition, the power that drove the US to become an amazing nation. Every time they strip that away, I see us a little more like Russia. (Yeah, I know, it's dramatic, but you said that's okay. ;)

  5. I loved freeze tag! I think my books are more along the line of "Everyone's a loser." At least until the final pages. ;)

  6. I hadn't thought about that -- turn up the competition as a way to turn up the heat on a character. I'm realizing that's why the friendship between two women in my WIP feels so flat. Their friendship is too perfect. In real life, there'd be even the tiniest feeling of competition between them. Thanks -- your post helped me unlock something there.

    BTW, that picture is too darn cute.

  7. Thanks for the advice, I think it'll be really useful to me - I could do with intensifying the conflict in my novels.

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  9. Hi Jennifer, nice to meet you. Am following you now. The first few drafts of my book had no conflict and no competition. Only after I upped the conflict and the competition, the story became better (that's what I think).

  10. Amen to that! I write pick your plot books, so the MC is pretty much constantly in some kind of conflict, or you as the reader are being forced to make decisions for them. Our books would be very boring without lots of conflict :)
    I'm with you on it not being great that we don't allow our kids some competition and *consequences* in school anymore. So far it looks like our schools around here are alright with that, but we'll see. We're at least 6 years away from having a kid in school. Eek.
    Thanks for stopping by this week!
    AJ @ Naturally Sweet
    An A-Z Co-host blog
    Tweet me! @ayjaylauer

  11. Conflict and competition build character, self-esteem,and determination both in and out of the pages. I'm surprised at what goes on these days with making everyone a winner at schools. When I see this, the students aren't as motivated.


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