Interesting question, right? It is a true (mildly sarcastic, but true) statement. I see it every day at work and in my personal life. Why don’t we just say what we mean? Is it because we are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings? Is it because we don’t know HOW to verbalize what we mean? I know in reading the emails I get from some people that we don’t know how to write it succinctly in a way that makes sense ;).
It therefore isn’t a surprise then that many stories are based on conflicts that could be resolved if the two characters actually told each other what they were thinking. Ultimately conflict is necessary to move the story along and keep the reader invested in wanting to read until the end. But that doesn’t mean that a misunderstanding or an inability to tell the other character the truth is the way to accomplish this successfully. Sure it can play a part in your story, but it shouldn’t be the MAIN conflict. In one of the writer’s workshops I attended, someone put it best by stating that “If the two main characters could solve the book’s conflict by sitting down over a cup of coffee and having a conversation, then that conflict is NOT strong enough.”
So how can you write the RIGHT type of conflict? Well, it needs to be fundamental to the characters. Is there some belief that they are diametrically opposed? Does the way the person was raised or live now, conflict with the other character? Does the other character threaten the other’s security? For example is the heroine a land developer and the hero a struggling farmer? Or Is the heroine a peace activist and the hero a Marine?
Or think about it this way…the characters should be flawed and need to grow and change through the story. Does the other character help with this growth? Do they take them out of their comfort zone and help them change or face a fear that they didn’t even know was stopping them from being a better person?
Evon more interesting questions, right? Glad I got you thinking. Keep tuned in while I continue to work on my communication skills!