on Writers Helping Writers:
Conflict is a key story ingredient, one we need a lot of, but this doesn’t mean quantity is better than quality. Fiction isn’t a video game; waves of bad guys with guns won’t keep readers tuned in for long. They expect to see a variety of conflict, including meaningful problems that deepen the story, raise the stakes, advance the plot, and provide opportunities for character development.
This last one is especially important, as it’s how a beloved character responds to adversity that really draws readers in.
The best way to reveal characterization and development is to use conflict to target our character’s soft spots. When we take aim at the things our character cares most about, trigger their fears or insecurities, or smack them right in the ego, they’ll react in a way that reveals their true selves, and that’s the person readers will connect to.
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