"Woah, Nellie!" moments -- re: internal conflict

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Thread: "Woah, Nellie!" moments -- re: internal conflict

  1. #1

    "Woah, Nellie!" moments -- re: internal conflict

    Okay, yes, this is a little explanation heavy. Probably more than you need to form an opinion. But humor me here. Please?

    At this point in my current WIP, my main protagonist (a widowed doc in her early 30s, whose husband was murdered a year prior) and my secondary protagonist (a chef in his mid fifties, made a widower and single parent when his wife died in a car accident ten years prior) are in the very early stages of a relationship. Despite the disparities in age and background, they gel in ways that make them feel alive again. So everything should be fantastic, right? But my main protagonist still has some misgivings about it at times. Especially considering the guy has an adult daughter who seems none too thrilled that Daddy has been keeping non-platonic company with a woman twenty-two years his senior. And she (the pro.) isn't the type who likes to go around upsetting familial apple carts, something she sees to often in her work as a pediatrician. There's more, of course, but down to brass tacks now --

    She's always been a planner. Even as a kid. But when her husband was murdered, every plan she had for the rest of her life got obliterated in a hail of gunfire. Once the dust settled a bit, she started planning the next phase of her life. At the time she meets the secondary protagonist, a romantic dalliance of ANY kind is the last thing on her agenda, but she can't deny the attraction. Physical and otherwise, especially after he finds out he lost his wife in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver. Finally, someone who understands what it's like for someone else to make a decision that ends the life of the one you love! In half of the first and all the second chapter, she describes the feelings of exhilaration and utter panic she feels. Feeling hopeful and terrified at the same time, because she's looking down the road and not at what's in front of her. But in my last chapter, she decides, "the hell with it." And decides to just take her friend's advice and stop overthinking and enjoy it.

    BUT . . . as I'm embarking on Chapter IV, I'm thinking old habits die hard. And she still has these "Holy Crap!" moments. She fears it will destroy her. That she'll somehow drive a wedge between him and his daughter. Or what if things are great and then they start to implode and things get really bad? I have scribbled down somewhere that maybe she even says something like, "The thought of ever looking upon him with jaded eyes physically sickened me."

    SO . . . what are good ways to ramp up this sort of internal conflict without making it cliche and stupid?
    "The passion for freedom of the mind is strong and everlasting, which is fortunate, because so is the passion to squelch it." A. M. Rosenthal

    "When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt." Wes Studi as The Sphinx, Mystery Men

  2. #2
    I would think the most important thing is relevance, so she has a minor disagreement with his daughter , but her thoughts colour her response, or things are great ,but something happens that makes her reaction cautious in case it sets off a chain reaction.
    A new story

    I finally got 'A Family Business' recorded and loaded, all 37 mins of it, much longer than any I have done before.
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  3. #3
    Foreshadow it. Set the seeds of fear, uncertainty and doubt in readers' minds some while beforehand.

    I say that without understanding what "Woah Nellie" means or what these "Holy Crap!" moments pertain to. What are these old habits that die hard? I assume that it's the conflict between wanting things to go well and fear that they won't, but it's hard to know how best to approach it without knowing what the end game is. If I was writing this, I would want to sweep the rug out from under your protagonist's feet; have the guy die or do something bad, something to drape her narrative arc over, and then, whatever that terrible thing is, hint at it before, make us not want it to happen, make us dread it in fact, but make us unable to stop reading on. But as I say, without knowing what's coming, it's hard to know how to foreshadow it correctly.

    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge

    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    - Propaganda, "Duel"


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    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

  4. #4
    A lot of it is going to depend on where the story is going and the type of story you are telling. Since she is such a planner, any unexpected events can ratchet up the tension (and these can be outside the relationship as well). A potential way to add tension is also to make her choose between what she had planned and the new relationship (like a job opportunity she's been working toward suddenly becoming a reality).


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