I read some great advice today:
Mistake #28: No Escalating Conflict
Mr. Mayer says that not only must every scene in a story have conflict, the level of conflict must escalate overall. Some writers will start with a great hook and then let everything slide downhill from there. But to keep the reader engaged, the conflict has to rise, for both the protagonist AND the antagonist.
I’ve tried to keep that message in the forefront as I begin each writing day. Escalating conflicts has lead to dead bodies I hadn’t planned for, estranged family dynamics, kidnapping, explosions, more dead bodies.
The thing I hadn’t really considered was the need to also raise the stakes for my antagonist. Mayer says that the antagonist and protagonist are locked in conflict and the key is to make whatever is at stake grow more important to both of them. What happens if Bad Dude fails? What if my male and female protag fails? Over time, advises Mr. Mayer, “each one invests more and more into what they are doing so that failure becomes more and more unacceptable.”
Up to this point in the manuscript, all of Bad Dude’s machinations have been off stage. Neither the reader nor my protags know that he is the person they are fighting against. So, my escalating conflicts have focused more on putting my protags in various conflicts rather than pitting them against the antag.
It’s a subtle distinction and what it means is that come December, I may need to re-think whether some of the crises I’ve developed are necessary to further the plot because they don’t serve the needs of both protag AND antag.
hmmm. . .
Well, that’s December’s problem.
For now . . .
today’s word count 2647.