What fabulous sunshine we’ve had in the south of England this last week! That’s all very nice for us, but sunny weather and everything going swimmingly doesn’t make for a good story.

Every good story needs a problem – some kind of conflict. And goodness, there are so many desperate situations you could make a story out of. I’m sure you don’t need reminding.

Suppose it’s a lovely sunny day, and William and Izzy go with their family to the beach. If they have fun making sandcastles, enjoy swimming in the sea, searching rock pools for crabs, have a delicious ice-cream, then go home happy, readers might feel cheated.

Why?

There was no problem for the characters to solve.

Now let’s suppose William and Izzy go with their family to the beach. While they are making sandcastles, their dog gets lost. Now you have a story! You can bring in a baddy, a rock fall and a scary cave before the children find their dog, if you like. How exciting/scary you make it depends on the age of your readers, of course, but even small children can understand looking for a lost dog, and be delighted when he’s found, safe and sound.

It doesn’t matter if the problem is an earthquake, a monster, dragons, pirates, stolen clothes, poisonous jellyfish or a shipwreck… but you have to give your characters a problem, and/or a dangerous quest.

Is your story too ‘nice’? You may have to get mean!

Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing

Hope that helps!

See you next week,

Janet

P.S. We look at conflicts and your story plan in detail in the Write for a Reason Academy. If this has whetted your appetite, come on over and join us!

You’ve Got to Have a Problem
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