Conflict: When is it too much and when is it not enough?
A friend and I were discussing this issue tonight and it got me to thinking, when does conflict in a story get to be too much? Sharon Sala, an excellent author of romantic suspense, can get a little wild with conflict. A few of her stories have turned me off, simply because the scenes were entirely too disturbing to read. Then again, some authors barely have any conflict. That's not to say they don't have a great plot, but there's simply very little negativity. One of the first things you learn as a writer, is to be sure your story has a deep plot, something that will take the reader beyond the budding relationship of the H/H. Something that will strengthen the middle, so you don't lose their interest.
I have a hard time with conflict in my stories. I fully admit this is an area I need to work on. Knowing this about my own writing, I've gone back to a few 'rejected' manuscripts and altered/added/thickened the plot. Needless to say, I can't hope to get them published unless I'm willing to look at why they were rejected to begin with. What kept the editor from grabbing it up? Why did she decide my manuscript 'wasn't right for their company'? So, as I made the decision to embark on learning how to better my own writing, I've found the following three things important to remember.
One: Reread the manuscript as if you were a reader, not a writer. When you open your mind and read with an unbiased attitude you see its strengths and its weaknesses more clearly.
Two: Be willing to change what needs to be changed. Don't shut your mind to the possibilities! The manuscript is a good one, that’s true, however, much like your favorite knick-knack, it may be gorgeous as is, but wouldn't it be even prettier polished to a glorious shimmer?
Third: Do not forget to read lots and lots of romances. Grab some of those New York Times Best Sellers and read them…intently. Because that’s what’s selling. That’s the stuff that editors want! It’s the best (and most fun) sort of research~!