Internal Conflict

man facing the mirror

The main character in my debut novel, Fantastic America isn’t a fierce warrior. She does get into dangerous situations, but she’s not (at least not yet) a fighter. What she does do is struggle internally. She fights against running from danger, avoids conflict with her family, and balances her faith against the weird events she reports on around the country.

On the surface, that may not be as thrilling as Circe outmaneuvering Daenerys, first of her Name. I’d argue there is a place at the table for fighting and overcoming what holds a character back. The stakes can still be high. Will Ashley turn away from what she sees happening, or embrace the changes to help save life as we know it? The internal struggle in other words, can and should impact the larger setting. The impact of the emotional journey should reflect how the character addresses events and characters as those internal changes progress.

Some of the most satisfying exchanges between characters happen because an internal struggle is going on or was resolved. Luke tossed his lightsaber away, refusing to bow to the Emperor. There were consequences for that choice, and the same should be true for characters in a similar situation. Ashley faces a series of tough choices, she’s not always ready to face those decisions, and that too is part of her journey. Just like in real life.

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