Avoid the 3 Most Frequent Writer’s Failures

According to literary agent Scott Eagan of the Greyhaus Literary Agency, there are three scenarios for conflict that fail in a fictional story. Be sure to avoid them.

In one of his blog posts, Scott gives us the following sage advice to avoid these common mistakes:

1) The conflict is too easy to solve – This is a big one. If the story can be summed up in a single conversation, or one of the characters just has to make a simple decision, then the story has no legs. There is nothing that is driving the story. This is really that “sit-com” approach. You know what I am talking about. Someone overhears a conversation and thinks there is something bigger going on. In other words, had someone heard the whole thing, there would be nothing. This is part of the reason why these approaches only last for a 15-20 minute episode.

2) The conflict is impossible – In an effort to make the story really big, the author creates a conflict that simply cannot be fixed without an act of God or amazing coincidence. When readers see something like this, we simply tune out. We know the characters will never make it, and yet, we know that when the author decides to get them out of a jam, the resolution will be unsatisfying. Honestly, the only place I believe the impossible conflict works is with the James Bond series.

3) The conflict would never happen – This one is the last of the three issues. The conflict you created in your story is one the characters would have never gotten into in the first place. The girl from Beverley Hills dating someone that isn’t in her “world” and then goes camping in the back country of the Nile River. Ummm, probably not.

So, stay away from too much, too little, or absolutely outrageous conflict in your storyline, and you’re sure to keep your readers in rapt attention.

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