I was reading this article on conflicts you can use in your books. And there was one paragraph that stood out to me:
Opposing Goals: Throughout your story, your hero should have something he’s trying to achieve. But at the scene level, he should also have goals—smaller micro-goals that move him toward getting what he wants overall. Conflict comes in the form of people, forces, things, etc. that block the character from getting what he wants. Oftentimes this comes in the form of the antagonist, who is actively working against the character. But what if the character with the opposing goal is his friend? Fireworks, that’s what happens, between the hero and the person he thought was on his side.
Opposing goals. It doesn’t mean evil-twirling, out-to-get-you opposing goals. It means what the protagonist wants is opposite what the other person wants.
One of my favorite scenes from Cordelia and Keenan’s book (otherwise known as The Devil and the Duchess) is a scene set in a bar, with Keenan and two people near and dear to his heart. When I read this paragraph above, it shed a little light on why that scene is one of my favorites.
In that scene, his two friends want something totally opposite what he wants, but they never really say it. It’s in the subtext, it’s there throughout. Keenan is on a mission, they want him not to be heading down that road. Conflict boils down to something as simple an opposition as that, but when I wrote the scene, you could feel their opposing wants as strongly as if they were chairs under your butt.
That scene was a surprise corner I ended up turning around. I was writing. My character started walking, and this bar is where he ended up. Then he introduced me to his friends. It wasn’t in my outline, and yet it’s such a big part of the book. I’ve always ended up with one or two scenes like that, totally unexpected, sometimes added later, that add something so real, so vibrant, that they become one of my favorites.
And I love the scene, because it’s about friendship, because it’s about loving each other, and because it damn near wrote itself. (That last one is always a plus.)
Tell me, what’s a surprise corner you’ve turned down that became a big part of your story?
If you’re not a writer, I’ll bet you have a few corners in your personal story, too.