If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

CONFRONTATION

In the middle of an argument, I asked my father (who is bipolar) why he was fighting. He said, “I’m bored.” I’ve learned to quell his melodrama by interjecting logical questions. By doing so, I disrupt his emotional vehemence and the confrontation stops. Of course, I also wanted to hit him because of his pretense, thus provoking more confrontation. And that is the nature of confrontation—a domino effect—which compounds and becomes a force unto itself, such as gravity on dominos. Without conflicts and confrontations, a novel goes nowhere because there isn’t anything to resolve.

Like the finger pushing the first domino, writers present a conflict to the reader in order to start a novel’s action. Hopefully, this conflict, either a character’s internal conflict about some issue or an argument between two characters, occurs on the first page to hook the reader and set up the plot. But then, that initial conflict spurs more conflict, resulting in a motive for murder, or if the murder has already occurred, resulting in a motive for the main character’s involvement, usually the reason for that character to solve the murder (especially in cozies).

The lack of conflict and complication results in deadly middles. The pace stops, the plot bogs down, and the reader becomes frustrated with the main character because there isn’t enough action. The remedy is more conflict.

How often do killers want to be identified and caught? Never! (Unless they’re into punishment and confess to every crime they hear about, in which case they aren’t usually the real killer.) If the killer is aware of the main character’s pursuit of him, does he roadblock the main character’s investigation that must be overcome by the protagonist? He may even attempt a second kill to stop the investigation, putting the main character in peril, or kill a vital witness. Not everyone will cooperate or assist the main character’s investigation. People lie, people refuse to answer questions, people may stymie your main character in various ways, but that pursuit of truth and overcoming those obstacles provides the action that alleviates deadly middles and makes readers want to champion the protagonist.

Motive springs from conflict. What are the reasons for the kill? I’m not talking about the seven deadly sins here, which in all probability are character weaknesses, which are moral flaws that authors may want to pursue in a character sketch or police profile. But motives are usually money, sex, power, self-protection of the non-physical sort, or revenge. Each motive results from conflict in which two or more characters confront each other and the murder of one is the outcome.

Conflict may or may not result in confrontation, but of the two—confrontation provides the most action and dynamic force propelling the plot forward. The kill itself is confrontation, unless done by passive aggressive means such as poisoning. That too is confrontation, but of an insidious kind, like faceless terrorism that provides little action unless the author describes the victim’s death throes. Even in that type of confrontation, the main character, in the denouement, confronts the killer or gets apprehended by the police. A one-on-one face-off provides emotional satisfaction, which leads us back to my melodramatic father.

Confrontation for the sake of confrontation doesn’t provide the compelling drama to hook readers. There must be an emotional investment on a very human level that drives the reader. Two drunken brawlers, who fight every Friday night will bore readers unless used for comic relief or compound a real conflict. A fight over an iPod probably won’t get a reader to emotionally commit. But a child’s death, a good man brought down because another profits, or a woman’s struggle to survive abuse enlists the reader’s outrage and compels reading further.

What conflicts have you written into your novel? What confrontations has your main character faced? What fear have they overcome?






4 comments:

Dee Hendershot Gatrell said...

I find conflict the hardest thing for me to write. But I'm working on it!
You did a great job of describing the tension and how to show conflict.
Dee

Pauline Alldred said...

Maybe I'm an easily frustrated character but I think conflict is part of life from the very beginning. A child wants something with all his/her heart but can't have it. How to get it--how to manipulate Mom and Dad?

I give my characters internal and external conflicts. The internal conflict stems from a childhood trauma that the protagonist is able to work out through a battle with the villain.

E. B. Davis said...

Dee-my easiest to write is logic, deductions made in the investigation by my main character.

Pauline--I forgot to discuss differences between internal and external conflict and their function. Both are important. The first so that the main character reconciles the internal conflict and changes as the story unfolds. The external conflict to push the story forward through the investigation.

Warren Bull said...

Conflict is the basis of all drama regardless of genre. Without it there is no story.