I was recently at my mother’s reading a magazine with the title, How to increase Conflict. My mom looked at me with a strange expression and I realized how the title must look to the non-writer. Who wants to increase conflict? Of all the self-help books on the market, I doubt any of them have that title.
Most of our lives we try and avoid conflict and tense situations, but then we have to turn around and create them. This was a major issue that came up for me in my substantive edit: my main character was avoiding conflict. In a good-humoured way, my mentor did say she sees this a lot. Writers tend to avoid conflict in their own personal lives, and then do the same on the page. The good writers realize that’s where to get it all out, all the conflict they’ve been avoiding.
So my major re-write has me focusing on creating the right amount of conflict and tension in my novel. How much is too much? Depends on the story and the reader. Ultimately, there is no one answer. It’s a balancing act known as pacing, and only the reader will tell us if we get it right. And each reader is looking for something different.
But there are some guideposts to follow.