One of the first lessons I learned when writing was "Only Trouble is Interesting."
Conflict doesn't have to be earth-shattering, in-your-face, knock down drag-em-out. In fact, sometimes the best conflicts are the everyday events. They may not be "exciting" in terms of things like car crashes or explosions, but readers can relate to them. And these sorts of things can keep the tension going in between the big stuff. And too much of that 'big stuff' can either exhaust the reader, or get boring..
Recently, All Romance eBooks opened its doors to individual publishers, so I decided that I'd upload my two books, What's in a Name? and When Danger Calls to their online store. I'd already uploaded them to the Kindle Store and Smashwords, so I figured it would be simple enough.
Nope. First, there's no formatting provided. If you want to put your book on their site, you have to provide it in the formats they offer. Although I can handle PDF and HTML easily enough (those are simply "save as" options in Word), I was clueless about things like lit, PRC, mobi, and epub.
There are those who will do this, but there's a fee. And frankly, any time I can do something myself and save money, means that my royalties (which are usually minimal) won't have to cover paying someone else. I've heard of Calibre, a free program that's supposed to take documents in one format and convert them to others.
I downloaded the program, but the user's manual seemed focused on how to take an ebook you owned in one format, and convert it to another (so if you bought a Kindle book, you could convert it to something your Nook could read). I couldn't find how to take a document and make it a book. Luckily, a Yahoo group made up of people who are uploading books provided someone who told me where to start, and the basic steps to conversions. It took some trial and error, but eventually, I was able to create the books in enough formats to upload.
Then came the next challenge. Setting up an account, getting approval—those were the easy steps. Dealing with the upload form was a bit more challenging, as some of the fields weren't intuitive, and there was a lot of starting over.
Conflict? Not a whole lot. Some frustration, yes. Time consuming? (the first time) Yes.
Another 'everyday' conflict I faced was the fact that the books I'd ordered from one of my publishers were shipped to my old Florida address, and there's nobody living there. An e-mail to the contact person went unanswered. The next day, I tried calling, but the phone system wasn't working. I did finally reach someone who promised to look into it, but as far as a resolution goes – nothing yet.
How can you turn these setbacks into interesting conflict? You have to consider the consequences. What happens if either task ISN'T finished? Or what happens if the character can't do what he/she wants or has to do because these interfere?
I was "lucky" in that I didn't have a lot of other pressures. But I got almost no writing done. What if I was on deadline?
You have to go back and look at the character's goals – is it to upload the books? Or maybe it's doing something else, but she can't do it until the books are uploaded, and what she thought would be a simple task ends up taking too long. What happens if she doesn't get them done? Is your character good at multi-tasking? Or a 'focus on one task' person?
These are the questions you have to ask, and then decide which route will create the conflict for your character. There might not be explosions, or a gunfight, but these things keep tension on every page. And you can always have the "big stuff" later.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society