Nanowrimo Weeks two and three: Conflict and complication!

The Middle of Your Novel

If you divide your novel into three parts, the beginning is roughly a quarter of your book. That should be over now, after the first week of Nano. The middle is roughly half your book, and that’s where we are now. That means that it’s time for what really drives any story…



Conflicts keep the interest of your readers and help pick up the pace. There are a few ideas to keep in mind concerning conflict:

  1. Remember you have options:

  • PHYSICAL: anything outside the body…a blizzard or a boxing match!
  • EMOTIONAL: torn between two emotions concerning the same event…like feeling sad and happy the first time you leave home. Sad to be leaving behind family and friends, happy to be starting life on your own!
  • MENTAL: some kind of problem to solve. It’s not life-threatening and it’s probably not your main conflict. A math solution does not make for sexy reading.
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL: Also in the head, but this is more likely. A constant worry–something your character can’t stop worrying about. Am I going crazy? Is that person stalking me?
  • SPIRITUAL: Where she’s forced to go against something she believes in. For all the volunteer work she did, they surprised her with a BBQ–every kind of meat dish you’ve ever seen…and she’s vegetarian. Oh, uh, thanksssss…

Whatever conflicts you slide into your novel, remember another key point:

  2. Don’t start with the worst possible conflict.

You need to be able to create suspense and rising action. That will only happen with complication…with the conflict(s) getting worse…


           Put your character into trouble and then more trouble and then oh-my-goodness-how-can-he-possibly-get-out-of-that-trouble kind of trouble. And speaking of kinds of trouble…

Tension on every page…and that will help you avoid a problem that many novelists and forty-something guys (ahem!) have… a saggy middle!

Good luck on the meat of your novel over the next few weeks…especially for you vegetarians!


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