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Agendas as a source of conflict

Nothing makes a story more interesting than conflict. One of the best sources of conflict is to take stock of agendas. You will reach a point where things start going well for your protagonist. It's just human nature for your thoughts and decisions to lean that way. It takes a while to train yourself to write with conflict at the center of character interactions.


Your characters will tend to be more in like helpers, partners, facilitators, sidekicks, or even smaller versions of one of your principal characters. As such, they tend to have compatible and complementary agendas.


Do these two things to get the flow going again:


1. Write down the name of every character and next to it that character's agenda. What does that character want or need?


2. Then go back through those agendas and mark those that are supportive or present no obstacle to your protagonist.


You will suddenly discover there's a bit too much cooperation and normal/non-conflicting motion in your story. Just as you would like it to be in your real life.


Don't be afraid to make characters needy, ambitious, selfish, self-centered, or protective to realign agendas, so that character relationships are far more tension, friction, or conflict-filled than cooperative and helpful.


Misalign your agendas; don't merge them into a cooperative traffic flow. Put characters on collision courses and even let those with compatible agendas at least have different senses of urgency or a difference of opinion on how to get somewhere or get something done. This is the source of conflict, and conflict is the currency of novelists.


Watch what happens to your story then.