In high school I'm certain most of my classmates labeled me a suck-up, teacher’s pet, brown-nose, and all those other unflattering terms good students were called. (Unfortunately, many kids still face that same kind of bullying.) Only my closest friends got a peek beneath the surface to the seething, sarcastic, smart mouth rebel lurking inside.
That may be a smidge of an exaggeration, but I was and still am more rebellious than my casual acquaintances realize. So it may seem counterintuitive that, like Janet and April, I avoid confrontation. Most of the time. If I believe something is unfair or needs to be changed, I’ll spray some “Bug Be Calm” on the butterflies in my stomach and take up the charge. I've stood up to city councils, bosses, and police officers, to name a few, and almost controlled the quaver in my voice.
But this post is about confrontation in story, not life. Without confrontation or conflict in a novel, there is no story. Characters need to struggle against something: enemies, forces of nature, or their personal demons. Otherwise, they’ll sit placidly on their little status quos munching popcorn and not grow or change in the slightest.
They’re like people that way.
If Ori in Fairest of Them All hadn't developed alopecia and lost her gorgeous blond hair, she wouldn't have learned how to make friends and work as part of a team. In A & L Do Summer, Aspen and Laurel would still be nobodies if Buttferk hadn't decided to make their lives miserable. Characters with nothing to overcome can't possibly succeed or fail. If characters don't face conflict, readers have no reason to laugh out loud, wipe away tears, or hold their breath as they turn the page. What’s the fun in that?
P.S. Mary at The Book Swarm has teamed up with my fabulous publisher EgmontUSA for an Outrageous Summer Story Writing Contest/Book Giveaway. Through September 19 post your most outrageous summer story at http://bookswarm.blogspot.com/2011/09/tell-outrageous-story-win-awesome-books.html for a chance to win a pack of Egmont Original Paperbacks, including A & L Do Summer. Second and third prizes are signed copies of A & L Do Summer. If you have a fun, exciting, outrageous summer story to tell, go to the blog and get in the running!