Sunday, October 2, 2011

Internal and External Conflicts

I’m back at writing (and blogging) after a long layoff. I took summer off because I didn’t want to spend time with my family wishing I was writing, or vice versa. I’m glad I did, since with my children home from school, I wouldn’t have had much time to write. With the time I had, I worked on some other (paid) projects and queried several books.

When plotting, we talk about character’s internal and external conflicts. Internal conflicts are the forces that drive them personally, and external ones are forces in the outside world that impact the character.

In writers’ lives, we also have internal and external conflicts.

How will I find time to write when my job, school, or family demands so much?
Will I get an agent?
Will my agent like this idea?
Will I sell a book to a publisher?
What will my reviews be like?
Will the chains carry my book?
Will I ever be good enough?
Do I have permission to keep writing even if I never accomplish my external goals?
The internal conflicts are what stop me. How can I can take time from other demands – family and paid work – if no one ever wants to read what I write? In the summertime, the answer was that I couldn’t. Now I’m winning out that internal conflict, and I hope to knock a few of the external ones off the list.

More Links:
Donald Maass on Writing the Breakout Novel
Therese Walsh on Internal and External Inspirations
Mary Frame on Internal and External Stakes


  1. That internal struggle is sooo hard sometimes. I generally take the summer off from writing as well - or I use that time to work on poetry or picture books...projects I love but that are less intensive for me or that I can work on it smaller spurts :) Focusing on my kids when they are home has always been a huge goal for me so when they are around, I try to keep off the computer (unless they are engrossed in a movie or some activity...then I write what I can lol)

  2. Huge hugs! I live with just these conflicts. Good job finding a way back!

  3. I think more often than not the reason people don't get published is because of the internal conflicts, not the external. It's true that there's a lot to worry about in the external category, but if we stop believing in ourselves there's no way we'll succeed. Thanks for the post!

  4. This is so me, as well. And those links look very helpful! Thank you, Kelly!


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