Conflict – Essence of Fiction writing

Write a good mushy novel, where everyone is perfect, everything is immaculate and there is no conflict… I am sure, the reader would hardy make it to page 25, if they don’t already throw the book off before that. Without conflict, a work of fiction is what it shouldn’t be, extremely boring.
 
Conflicts like creeps need to jump at your readers, and grip them at the most unexpected turn, and make them glued to the pages to know what happens next.  Even better,  give a slight feel of what’s in store, to let them yearn for more!
 
There are many ways to add conflict. Microscopic view of a few here –
 
Make the character face internal conflict – turmoil, want, greed, ethics, anything where they are internally torn and don’t know which way to go. This will add internal conflict. This will also emotionally connect the reader to the character.
I make my protagonist fall for a man in a situation where she should hold herself back.  How she reacts determines her future. The inner turmoil she goes through while she makes her decision makes my reader connect with her.
 
Outer influences on my characters, give them external conflict. The macro world of my novel. The external forces, posing choices for my characters. How they deal with them will again add conflict.
 
Hooked to a place? My character may have strong affinity to a place and putting them in a situation where they can neither stay there nor leave, will add place conflict. However, they need to have enough reason for that conflict.
 
Similarly, opposing personalities can add conflict. The interactions, motivations and clashes can add enough conflict. It should not be a war situation all the time, but different personalities at cross-roads with conflicting ideas can add conflict interestingly.
 
Each chapter should have a conflict at various level. We need to control the pace of the conflict throughout the novel so as not to exhaust the reader and give them a breather… the phases, when everything sails smoothly and looks perfect, before another conflict hits them.

Building Characters

For a while, I have been wondering how to bring my characters to life. I want them to react the way each one of us does. Make them more believable, livable. Tonight is strange. I woke up about an hour back, when it was still 3 am and kept thinking of certain issues at hand. Just can’t go back to sleep. Whether it is the issue at hand or the double doze of antibiotics I am on, difficult to identify.
What’s interesting is the learning from the past hour, when I let my mind toy with various thoughts that crossed my mind. I am sure, this learning can be quite natural to a few of you, or maybe, well learnt as a part of some writing course, by few others out there, but for me, it was a lightening.
I realised that the characters behave out of their own experience. We need to create that experence around them for them to behave the way we want them to. If I want my character to take everything casually, I need to have his/her childhood experience or maybe some close people around them that would condition their thinking in that direction.
It is imperetive that we have a background that is a perfect match to our charater’s reactions. I cannot have a character who is happy-go-lucky when I am showing that the entire childhood of my charater was spent in turmoil and amidst violent parents.
These character traits are obvious, for some, but then, once we learn from our own experience, we know how valid they are. If I have a character who is timid, I need to have a reason for her to be that way.
Also, some of this backround can be withheld and revealed as the story unfolds, at a point where the antagonist realises the motive of the protagonist, or at a self-actualizing state.
It’s amazing, how sometimes, we get ideas at the most unexpected times of the day. I had to get up and write this and now I am off to bed again….