Sunday, November 10, 2013

Balancing Conflict in Stories

Welcome to MuseItUp Publishing's 
Mystery and Suspense Week 
November 10-16. 

Meet the MuseItUp authors and discover their storytelling secrets. 

Balancing the Conflict by J.Q. Rose

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at 
Conflicts in real life are no fun whether it is with a family member, neighbor, or the cable company. But when it comes to reading mysteries and suspense, as well as any genre, a conflict(s) is what we want! Without that struggle there isn't much of a story.

If the sweet heroine is so darling and precious and life goes along like rainbows and lollipops, the reader will be very bored. That main character needs a bad boy to blot out all that sunshine. On the other hand, a hero who faces one hurdle after another and another and another can leave the reader on conflict overload.  Too little or too much conflict can turn off the reader. Balancing the conflict in stories is a challenge to a writer and quite an interesting test of storytelling skills. 

In my new mystery/romance, Coda to Murder, the conflict is between my main character, Pastor Christine Hobbs, and Detective Cole Stephens. He’s trying to prove she’s the one who murdered the Director of Music at the church. Now that IS a major conflict. The other problem is she is drawn to this handsome, broad-shouldered detective with the gorgeous brown eyes.

Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock 
that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

EXCERPT from Coda to Murder:

Christine couldn’t make the decisions.  The toppings for her sub sandwich all looked good.  She knew it was the height of the rush hour, and people were waiting for her.  Too many choices to enhance the turkey sandwich. 
            “Come on, Hobbs.  Make up your mind.  Mustard, mayo, pickles, white American cheese, lettuce, oil.”  Cole stood next to her, waiting for her to make her choices. 
            She glared at the pushy detective and then turned to the sandwich maker and said, “Yeah, all that plus tomato and onions.” 
            “Good, finally.  You can dress mine the same. No tomato and extra cheese.”
            Cole caught up with her at the drink station where she was debating about what pop to choose.  “I imagine you are a diet cola drinker.  May I pour?”
            “Oh, thank you.”
            “Ah, you need some caffeine, eh, Preacher?”  His eyes sparkled.  She relaxed and returned his smile.
            “I see you have your sandwich to go.  Me, too.  I’ll meet you at the lakefront park for lunch, under the big oak tree.  Lots of shade and a beautiful view of the water.”
            “Oh, but I have….” She stopped to check her watch. No, she didn’t have an appointment.  She had the lunch hour free today.  She had no excuse, and of course, a preacher couldn’t tell a lie. 
            “Okay, I’ll meet you there in a minute.”  What was she thinking?  He’s the man who’s trying to send her to prison. Well, what’s wrong with having lunch with a handsome policeman? After all there was that saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
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Purchase Coda to Murder from MuseItUp Publishing and order the formats you need for your e-reading devices.

Connect online with J.Q. Rose at the J.Q. Rose blog and MIU Publishing author page

Thank you for stopping by today. Who would you choose as your favorite hero/heroine? Please tell us why? 


Suzanne de Montigny said...

Good point! Remember the movie Caligula? Too much conflict for me.

Cellophane Queen said...

The male-female conflict has so many ways to play it out, it's a solid go-to plot line, but never boring if the writer finds a new way to present it. In Coda, the conflict the oh-so-nice Pastor accused of murder by a hard-eyed detective worked very well.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Suzanne, I don't believe I watched that movie, but I have seen those films with chase scenes, shoot outs, and so much action, I didn't cae if I saw the rest of it. Too much on-the-edge-of your-seat to enjoy the stor! Thanks for stopping by.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks, Marva. A Pastor is stereotyped to be a "good" person just by the career choice, so I had to write her as a likable woman, of course, but to add interest, she did have some shortcomings too. She was a lot of fun to develop into the main character in Coda to Murder.

Helena Fairfax said...

Hi JQ, I enjoyed the conflict between your two characters in Coda to Murder. The conflict was maintained throughout your book, and I certainly kept turning the pages to see how it was going to be resolved.
Nice post!

J.Q. Rose said...

Helena, Thank you so much. I appreciate your kind words.

Marsha said...

Great post, JQ. Conflict has always been the challenge for me. I personally don't like conflict. I'm a rule follower and I want everyone else to follow the rules too. Hah! Doesn't happen often. And you're right, the story is boring if everyone is always doing the right thing. You got it right on Coda. I had to keep turning the pages.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks so much, Marsha. Sorry this is late, but I don't think it ever gets too late to say thank you.