{guest post} The SECRET to Explosive Building Conflict and Tension in Every Chapter

LJ Clarkson

Today I am hosting the wonderful LJ Clarkson on my blog as part of the “From Australia with Love” blog hop.

Pst. Yeah you. Mik Hail, Protector of the Realm, here. LJ Clarkson entrusted me to deliver her TOP SECRET weapon to plot your chapters and build explosive conflict and tension. She thought it be best I teach you, as I’m a conflict hardened soldier, and if I can’t whip you into bestselling author-soldiers, then no one can. Plus, she’s covering for me, smiting some monsters.

*scans the area for any spies* All clear. Ok. For LJ’s secret method, she first prepares outlines for each chapter of her novel, breaking them down into 6 sections: character goals, conflict, unexpected turn, character’s reaction, new course of action and decision made. Copy that soldier?

DO NOT forget to create internal and external conflict for the main characters in the chapter, soldier, or I’ll have you dropping and giving me 50 pushups! For those of you who haven’t battled any conflict before, internal conflict takes place in a character’s mind, where they wrestle with a choice between right and wrong or mixed feelings or emotions toward something. An external conflict is a struggle between a character and an outside force such as another character, terrain or weather. Did I hear you say roger that?

Next LJ fills out these headings based on what she wants to have happen in the chapter, adding events that create conflict and tension for the characters.

Here’s an example based in the day and life of me:

Character goals: Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve been dying to join the circus as a performer. Circus practice keeps me fit and strong and I’ve got a great session coming up this afternoon.

External conflict: Pop gave me the job of protecting the humans. Every time a little bit of conflict breaks out, I miss out on practice, because Pop orders me to kill a King here, a despot there, all to ease tensions between neighbouring countries and free the people from oppression. That means I miss out on a lot of circus practice, and I’m not happy about it.

Internal conflict: A lot of the times I don’t agree with Pop’s choices. Often, my soldier senses tell me the power hungry brother will knock off the new king. But does Pop listen to me? No. What am I to do? An order from my commanding officer is an order, and if I disobey, I’ll cop the wrath of Pop. I’m sick of taking orders, and mighty tempted to just run away and join the circus.

Unexpected turns: Oh boy. Over the millennia, Pop has been notorious for messing up my plans, like this morning when he ordered me to protect him whilst attending to a few duties. Too bad I already had a mission planned to rescue 18 hostages and couldn’t just abandon them or my men.

Character reaction: I will admit, I exploded a few volcanos in the New Zealand region and started a few earthquakes to blow off steam, but no one was hurt.

Decision made: Unfortunately, time was ticking for the hostages. Ever the reliable soldier, I juggled both missions, and took Pop along to rescue the hostages.

New course of action: Thanks to Pop, my mission went pear shaped. A few of my men were killed and had to be brought back to life, and I was facing treason for disobeying a military order not to kill. Instead of throwing another tantrum, I taught Pop a lesson, and had him locked up for assisting the enemy. Hey! At least it got him off my back.

*sniffs the air for intruders* Enemies are approaching, so I better ward them off for you, and leave you to your new plotting technique. I’m confident that if you follow my instructions, you’ll blow the tension out of the water, and become a master of conquering conflict, like me!

Author Bio:

LJ ‘fibber’ Clarkson tells everyone she gave up her Environmental Engineering career to study a Creative Writing Degree and pursue her writing dreams. But that’s not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Playing spider solitaire consumes 5% (bad, bad habit). Running Indicated, a promotional site for authors steals another 18.75%. In her remaining waking hours, she writes, laughs at her own jokes, reads and falls asleep whenever her boyfriend reels off geeky computer lingo (zzzzzz). If she were a Mastermind, she’d uninvent early mornings, grammar, broccoli, cleaning and her dog’s fussy eating habits.

You can find out more at www.mastermindacademy.net or www.indicated.com.au (Indicated is a site providing all the resources an indie or small press author needs)

The Silver Strand blurb:

The Silver Strand

Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes.

The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle’s source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It’s also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn’t count on is that there is more at stake than just her life.

The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.

Buy eBook – Amazon.com

Buy Paperback – Amazon.com

Autographed copies from the author’s website – www.mastermindacadamy.net

 

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