Monday, October 31, 2011

Combating Conflict

Congratulations, Cynthia Justlin! Enjoy your "Conflict Makes The Story" class with Cheryl St. John!!

Hi All! Audra here and I've got a surprise for you at the end of this post!

You know how the old adage goes -- You Never Stop Learning? Well, I'm a prime example of a work-in-progress. You'd think after ALL the years I've read books, studied the craft, attended workshops and conferences, I'd have this whole writing thing down pat.


There are so many areas in my writing repetoire that can stand improvement, and writing conflict is the among the biggest. I'm a romance writer at heart and really, I hate seeing anything stand between the hero and heroine, and happily ever after. Of course, that doesn't really leave much room to enfold the reader in a story not soon forgotten, does it? You'd think I'd have gotten past this little problem ages ago.

Nope. It haunts me still. (Happy Halloween, everyone!)

Now remember, I'm a big one for taking workshops. The advent of online courses has allowed me to pursue the selection of wonderful workshops offered for the month either through RWA or ACFW or word of mouth. Personally, I love the word of mouth scenario because if someone I like or admire cares enough to endorse a class by sharing their enthusiasm over it, well, how much better press can you get?

I'm really excited to share this class on Conflict I took in September given by Cheryl St. John. She is a master of her trade and the workshop she's developed had even me understanding the basics of good, solid, organic conflict. You've heard writers say conflict needs to be character driven so as not to appear contrived, right? Well, I'd heard it, too. But not until I took Cheryl's workshop, did I really understand how to reach inside the character and explored all their conflicted regions, LOL!

Debby Giusti, Ruth Logan Herne, Audra Harders,
Cheryl St. John and Sherri Shackelford
I had the opportunity to meet Cheryl St. John at the ACFW conference in September. She's a wonderful lady, very gracious and an absolute pleasure to talk to. By popular demand, the workshop she offered in September is being offered again in November. If you need any insight at all into conflict, please consider attending her class. The lessons are deep and informative, and her homework is quick, fun and enlightening.

Have a great week everyone!

DATES:  NOVEMBER 1 – 30, 2011
(a savings of $10.)

Only a little over two months left of 2011! Did you accomplish everything you wanted to over the year? Writing improvement challenges? A new story proposal? A finished project? Here’s an opportunity to sharpen your skills and be prepared for those new goals, which are right around the corner.

No matter what writing topic Cheryl addresses, she hangs the most importance on characters. Conflict is drawn from characters. It’s based on their goals, their backstory and their motivation. It is opposing forces that come from within the characters themselves.

Webster’s Dictionary defines conflict as “the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction.” This definition is the essence of fiction, and we need to keep it in mind as we develop characters and plots. If there’s no conflict, there’s no story.

Conflict, of course, can be either light or heavy. In a humorous story, the problem may not be life threatening, but it still must be important to the characters. The characters’ motivations must be equally important to them. In suspense, the conflict is often life-threatening. All well-developed plots stem from creative use of conflict, and conflict is what keeps the reader turning pages.

In order to understand conflict and how to develop it, we must first understand what conflict is, what conflict is not, and what conflict can be. The elements that make up a story are so closely meshed that at times it becomes difficult to dissect and make a firm delineation between them. In a masterfully developed story, characterization, plotting, and conflict are all intricately entwined.

Cheryl will explain opposing goals and how to create conflict that will sustain a story. She’ll give practical advice on:
Motivating characters
Creating characters with built-in conflict
Revealing emotion through conflict
Internal and external conflict
Simple and complex conflict

Among her achievements, which include forty published books in both contemporary and historical genres, Cheryl St.John has received multiple Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and four RITA nominations. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations.” She has taught writing on local and national levels, and is in demand as a motivational speaker.

The class will be conducted via subscription to a private yahoogroup, two lessons per week, followed by questions and answers. Brief exercises pertaining to the participant’s current work in progress may be included. Archived class will be available for one week after the ending date.

I believe so much in this workshop that when you leave a comment and your email address, I'll pay for one (1) lucky commentor's class fee! I'd love to leave the opportunity open for the week, but since the class starts Tuesday, I'll draw the name Monday night and announce the winner Tuesday morning.

Have fun!


Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring cowboys who haven't a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two teenagers about the leave the nest, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between remind her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit her at her website and her blog. Don't be shy!


Jamie Lee Scott said...

They say "kill your darlings" too, and I have a tough time with that. But I own a restaurant and I think about the crappy customers when I need to write conflict. Truly, there is no story without conflict.

Donnell said...

Sounds like a fantastic workshop, Audra, thank you for letting us know about it.

Audra Harders said...

LOL, Jamie. The things we can take our aggressions out on...and our characters still love us for it : )

Audra Harders said...

I can't say enough over Cheryl's teaching style, Donnell. Not only does she teach conflict, but she helps you get to know your characters.

Very, very helpful to me. I found it easy to back my characters into corners, knowing they were capable of getting themselves out of situations.

I loved it.

Leslie Ann said...

I went to her site and I'm in awe of all she says. Seriously, she's got a great way to create conflict that works, it's NOT contrived.

What a great offer you've made to the readers of the blog.

LA of the scribes.

Cynthia Justlin said...

Wow! This sounds like a great workshop, and as I'm in the midst of plotting a YA that's giving me serious conflict fits, I'd love to win this! :)

cynthiawritesromance @ gmail dot com

Gina Black said...

Sounds like a great workshop. Thanks for posting about it.

Audra Harders said...

Cynthia, I love reading YA novels! Maybe it's the fresh perspective, or maybe it's the subject matter, but I love the storylines.

Serious conflict fits, LOL. I know all about those. As a matter of fact, I do believe I am in the middle of one now...

Audra Harders said...

Hi Gina! Thanks for stopping by!

Jamie Lee Scott said...

I had to post a link to this on my blog. And I tweeted it out this morning. I hope people take advantage of this fantastic workshop.

Victoria Dixon said...

Ah, man! My husband and I went out to celebrate our anniversary last night, so I didn't see this until now. :( Congratulations to the winners and I am seriously considering this class. I need the help.

Cheryl St.John said...

Audra, you're the best! I'm honored to have my workshop be a prize.

Smooches. I loved meeting you in St. Louis.

Like the photo too!

Sherri Shackelford said...

I highly recommend the class!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Jamie, thanks for tweeting the blog. Soooo appreciate it!

Audra Harders said...

Victoria, sorry you miss the drawing, the workshop is just beginning. Plenty of time to sign up.

You won't be disappointed!

Audra Harders said...

Cheryl, so glad you dropped by. Your workshop made the perfect prize. I hope lots of folks take advantage of it.

Great meeting you in St Louis. I look forward to Dallas in 2012!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Sherri! Great meeting you in St Louis, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Audra Harders said...

It's snowing here in Colorado this morning. I'm brought hot chocolate for anyone needing a cold and wintery morning boost!

Oh and marshmallows and cinnamon on the side.

Can't forget the trimmings : )

Donnell said...

Audra! New computer old addresses deleted. Will you contact me please at if you're reading this. Just checked my PP account not enough money honey in it . Can I send a check or can ya'll wait three days for the bank to put money in my account. Would love to take this course!

Pam Hillman said...

Wow, this sounds like a really good workshop! Thanks for sharing, Audra.

Pam Hillman said...

Okay, I'm signing up!

Audra and Cheryl, any chance you can CLONE me so that I can actually take the time to participate?????

Audra Harders said...

Donnell, I know the feeling! My PP account always seems to have less money in it than I think.

Hmmm. Could I have miscalculated??

Audra Harders said...

Pam, I'd love to clone you...and me. Think about it, we'd make a fortune!!

Wait, that would mean twice the appointments kept in twice the appointment books.

Well, maybe I'll just dream about twice as much time : )