The Perfect Life... Doesn't Exist

 by Charlotte Bennardo

Conflict- it's a part of every writer's life. While it's fun to put our characters in the midst of numerous conflicts, some life (or plot) changing, others mundane, it's important that every novel have more than a major plot; there needs to be several. Life is never that simple where we only have to deal with one conflict. 

Take my day for instance. I had a 'tiff' with my husband over the counter going into our bathroom that is under renovation. We settled it. Then I had a conflict over whether to write more query letters, work on the outline for my next novel, or continue revisions for my sci fi novel. The solution: I worked in my garden then worked on my new novel outline. Another conflict was should I use a single or dual point-of-view for my new novel. I resolved it by going with a dual because it fit the premise of the story better. There were other conflicts, but consider that's just one day. It must be the same for our characters; there must be multiple conflicts.

Photo by Monstera Production:

It can be hard to know which and how many conflicts to incorporate. We can't include too many conflicts or the novel will be bogged down and the reader overwhelmed. Is a conflict over what to wear to a school dance important enough to include? It is if the outfit and the conflict become important later on in the novel (maybe the main character wears her twin sister's dress without asking and ruins it just before an important event). From

Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.

Stephen Moyer

That's one important reason to write conflict into our novels, it helps the reader and even the characters see who our main is, along with other characters. We don't have to tell the reader what kind of person the character is, the character will do it with their actions and emotions.

Another reason for incorporating conflict is wanting to portray reality in our novel. Even in fantasy or any fictional genre, there is no utopia because humans, animals, or even non-human life forms are flawed, make bad decisions, get caught up in situations not of their own making, and well, stuff happens. Life is complex and messy and unpredictable, which raises conflict. 

So, no smooth sailing- for either us or our characters. 

Charlotte writes MG, YA, NA, and adult novels in sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal genres. She is the author of the award-winning middle grade Evolution Revolution trilogy, Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons. She co-authored the YA novels Blonde OPS, Sirenz, and Sirenz Back in Fashion. She has two short stories in the Beware the Little White Rabbit (Alice through the Wormhole) and Scare Me to Sleep (Faces in the Wood) anthologies. Having finished her MFA, she's applying what she learned and is working on several children's and adult novels, along with some short stories. She lives in NJ but dreams of a Caribbean beach house. 


  1. That's SUCH an important point about character revealing itself through conflict.


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