Conflicts and consequences
One of the most import rules I learned about good storytelling is sustaining conflict and tension. No one wants to read a story about a character who gets everything they want without ever having to struggle. My first attempt at a novel died when I realized I was writing an endless stream of this happened and this happened and this happened without any real conflict. Things might have happened, but It was boring to read.
A trick I try to use in every scene is for each character, even the minor ones, to want something and be moving toward their respective goals. And my job as the author is to introduce conflicts that frustrate the characters into taking action. Letting Go features a cute cat and mouse game between the hero and heroine. Whenever desire warms between them in the story, I would make someone or something interrupt the moment.
Alex and Molly are both single parents and love their kids without question. I gave the kids an uncanny ability to detect parental desire to frustrate the budding couple. Anytime Alex or Molly attempt to embrace or kiss, one of their kids pops up doing the peepee dance.
The other side of conflicts are the inevitable consequences that follow. Sometimes even when you get what you want, you find it wasn’t all you’d hoped. I use those same rules in storytelling. Never give a character (or reader) what they expect. I love to set up a conflict, then change direction just when it appears to resolve just to crank the tension even higher.
In Letting Go, Alex is introduced in his opening chapter receiving a threatening phone call. His entire life at that point has been focused on the threat of something bad happening to him or his kids. Then when something bad actually happens to Alex in the story, no one notices or believes him. Worse, they think he is a nut for reacting the way he does. By keeping the situation unresolved, the tension mounts until the real threat is revealed.
One of the recurring themes in the reviews for Letting Go is how the tension and suspense keeps the readers going through to the end. Conflict is the winding spring of the story and powers the plot until it is finally resolved. And add spice by making sure that the consequences are never what the readers expect!
Despite his wealth, Alex Thompson has been living in fear since his wife died in childbirth. A frivolous wrongful death lawsuit, harassing phone calls, and anonymous threats drive him and his five-year-old twins away from their home in Houston and into the crosshairs of a sniper.
Molly McDill is a struggling single mom who lives next door to Alex and his twins. When she helps them adjust to their new life in the country, she exposes herself and her son to the same threat that followed Alex.
An attempt on his life throws their lives into chaos, inviting more threats, public scrutiny, and Molly’s ex-husband back into her life. The tension tests the attraction they feel toward each other as they struggle to keep life normal for their kids.
Alex still doesn’t know who wants him dead but suspects his former in-laws. As the threats become a visceral danger, Alex and Molly race to uncover the secret that died with his wife before it costs them everything.
About A.L. Awtrey
After working more than twenty years as a technologist and scientist, Anthony started writing fiction again for the first time since college. Developing white paper studies and proposals for years provided a foundation in technical writing, but telling a compelling story was much harder than it appeared.
Four years of practice where he wrote eight novels and dozens of short stories improved his dialog, description, tension, and pacing. With his latest novel, Letting Go, Anthony is ready to release it under his own name. He’s a member of the Central Florida Chapter of the Romance Writers of America and Florida Writers Association.
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