What Conflict Really Means

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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Ask any agent or editor to list the top three reasons manuscripts get rejected and you’ll find “not enough conflict” on that list. Conflict is at the core of every story, and without conflict, there is no story. It’s so vital, “conflict” and “story” are almost interchangeable when writers talk about it. It’s common to ask, “What’s your story about?” and have the author describe the conflict.

Which is part of the problem.

Since conflict covers such a wide range of storytelling, it isn’t always clear what people mean when they say “conflict.” Does it mean the plot of the story? The character arc? Does conflict mean the characters have to argue? Does it mean a physical battle? Does it mean soul-crushing angst or a mustached villain plotting against the hero at every turn?

No. Conflict fuels the plot and character arc, but they’re separate elements. You can have conflict without battles, without major angst, and without evil villains bent on world domination. Some of the best conflicts are those between characters who love each other deeply, but can’t agree on what to do about a problem.

I think the biggest reason writers struggle with conflict is that it’s not just one thing. Conflict is a one-two combo of a challenge faced and the struggle to overcome that challenge.

  • The conflict of the plot (the physical challenges faced to resolve the problem)
  • The conflict of the character (the mental challenges faced to resolve the problem)

These are the two sides of conflict and they appear in every story (and scene) in some fashion. Let’s look at each of them a little closer. Continue reading What Conflict Really Means

Twitterific Writing Links

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

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The Ten Commandments for Detective Fiction (1929): A Brief History and Update

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by Gretchen Mullen, @GretchenMdm9524

“Thou shalt not cheat thy reader”

Ronald Knox (1888-1957) was an English priest who moonlighted as a well-regarded author of detective novels and short stories. His reputation was such that in 1928, during the Golden Era of Detective Fiction, when a group of British mystery authors gathered to exchange ideas and collaborate, Knox was included in this elite group. Officially known as The Detection Club, the group formally organized in 1930. Membership was and still is by invitation only. Original members included such greats as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and first elected president G.K. Chesterson.

Knox co-edited and penned the “Introduction” to The Best English Detective Stories of 1928. Knox’s essay (originally dated February 28, 1929), was later reprinted as “The Detective Story Decalogue” in 1946.

According to the Ronald Knox Society of North America, the Decalogue became known as “the Ten Commandments for Detective Novelists as a set of by-laws for the [Detection] club.” Often reprinted in short form, the commandments (also referred to as Rules of Fair Play) are meant to remind authors that the reader deserves a fighting chance to solve the mystery without the author’s use of cheap tricks. Continue reading The Ten Commandments for Detective Fiction (1929): A Brief History and Update

Instafreebie’s New App

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

In the early days of digital reading, we had to carry a device around to read on.  I still have two very early model kindles at home.

But now it makes so much more sense to be able to read on our phones.  We’re already carrying the devices and we’ll always have something to read if we have an app…no need to try and remember to bring an extra device along.  I’ve found that I get so much more reading now that I’ve got my book with me wherever I go (and reading is vital to writing).

The problem my mother had with devices and phones was how to get her book onto the device. I wrote her a detailed set of instructions, but it was still difficult for her.  She had librarians show her how to put library books on her kindle account, but it never really sunk in.

During giveaways, I’ve found that there are plenty of my readers who faced similar confusion about transferring the books to their phones or devices. I tried to walk them through it, but it was always tricky.  I’ve found that Instafreebie has helped a lot.  I’m able to provide readers (giveaway readers, ARC readers, the occasional disgruntled reader) with links to the free books and Instafreebie’s instructions (and support) are usually enough to guide them through the process. Continue reading Instafreebie’s New App

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open and 'Twitterific Writing Links' by ElizabethSCraig superimposed on the image

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links