Writing Conflict – The War is Easy, The Skirmish is Hard

It appears that I am a serial writer. I thought I might jump back and forth in my manuscript, since I knew approximately what the shape of the story would be. But I haven’t. Each step has led to the next, and I haven’t wanted to jump around for fear of not knowing everything I would come up with in the chapters between.

So now I have done my set up.  I have placed the protagonist and her friends. I have placed the antagonists. I have defined the shape of the conflict. I have fired the opening shots. I have written some interstitial matter that doesn’t directly apply. I know what the final resolution will be to this war.

Now I have to come up with the skirmishes, and I’m finding that much harder. It’s a matter of pacing, I think. I don’t want to be too slow and lose reader interesting. I also don’t want to rush from the middle section of the book through the end in a hurry. I also don’t want to give my villains Bolo Yeung Disease1. There’s the constant threat of deus ex machina to keep your characters alive and hale until the cataclysmic final battle.

This has always been a problem of mine.

It’s caused my output to drop, despite my mental momentum going strong. I have some ideas, now. A few pivotal battles in the war on my characters.

How do you handle it? Do you have the same troubles I do?


1Bolo Yeung, perhaps best known as Han’s enforcer from Enter the Dragon, and Chong Li in Bloodsport, played the villain in martial arts movies throughout the 80s. His character was frequently unstoppable until the final battle, when he would inexplicably lose.

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