Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Time to be Tough By Patti Jo Moore

If someone used only one word to describe you, what do you think that word might be? Talented? Funny? Kind? Outgoing?

I can guarantee that one word that would not be used to describe me is TOUGH. 😉

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a kindergarten teacher in my other life (before writing full-time) and I absolutely loved working with young children. I especially loved working with them when they were nice to each other, and I didn’t need to intervene with little talks about the importance of playing nicely, sharing, and treating others the way we want to be treated.

Maybe that mindset of “wanting everyone to get along” is why I struggle with adding conflict in my stories. Yes, I know that without conflict and strife in our characters’ lives, there’s not really a story (or one that others want to read!). And even though I’ve been writing a while, I still find it difficult to - - as one of my author friends phrased it - - “be mean to my characters.” That goes against my kindergarten-teacher nature! I don’t want to be mean, even if those characters aren’t real people (although we writers know they seem very, very real to us).

Yet, since I enjoy writing stories, and want my stories to be entertaining and have a meaningful message, I must have conflict, and in my stories the conflict must be resolved by (or before) the happy ending.

So - - being a seat-of-the-pants writer, I make myself pause at certain places in my writing, and check to see if I’m being “tough” and adding conflict that will make my story stronger. If I’m not, then I take a break, pray some more about my writing, and then later return to my project with a renewed spirit - - determined to be as tough as necessary. Yes, it’s an ongoing struggle, but one I’m working on. 😊

What about you? Do you struggle with having enough conflict in your stories?

In Tune With Romance 

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Meg Mills is thankful she relocated to Coastal Breeze after becoming widowed two years earlier. As she makes plans to achieve her dream of owning a small bookstore, she begins doubting herself after being harassed by her late husband’s stepmother. She’s also confused at her strong attraction to the shy, lanky piano tuner who arrives for an appointment one day.

Todd Davis is grateful for his aunt’s encouragement to move to Coastal Breeze after a painful divorce, and is soon captivated by an outgoing piano tuning client. But he’s an introvert, and feels certain the pretty widow wouldn’t be interested in him.

When Todd is hired as the local church’s choir director, he hopes this will help him get to know the attractive widow better—if he can come out of his shell. When the cousin who bullied Todd as a youth unexpectedly arrives in Coastal Breeze, Todd must confront his greatest fear, while getting past the pain of his memories. Meg worries that her exuberant personality has driven Todd away—until she learns the truth about his past.

Can two people who are polar opposites help each other & find romance in the process?

Patti Jo Moore is a retired kindergarten teacher and lifelong Georgia girl. She loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee, and is blessed to be published with Forget-Me-Not Romances. When she’s not spending time with her family (including her sweet grandbaby) or writing her “Sweet, Southern Stories” Patti Jo can be found feeding cats—her own six and local strays.

She loves connecting with readers and other writers, and can be found on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore or her personal blog at http://catmomscorner.blogspot.com

16 comments:

  1. Patti, it is so hard to add conflict. Why can't everybody just get along? Lol. Life isn't that way, so our stories shouldn't be that way. But if we have happily ever afters at the end, I guess in the end, we have everybody getting along. We just have to get there. Thanks for the great post!

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  2. Thank you, sweet Sally!!
    Yes, it's the "getting there" that I struggle with---having enough conflict before that happily-ever-after. *sigh* But I am determined to get tough, LOL. ;)
    Thank you so much for stopping by - - you are a blessing!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  3. Patti Jo - I thought you were describing me for a second there. If I could write stories with no conflict and people would still read them - I might just do it. But alas, a story without conflict is not a story. I think that's why we write romance. You can usually depend on that HEA ending! What a blessing you are and thanks for a great post.

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    1. Hi Cindy, Oh wouldn't it be great if only we could write those stories without the conflict and they'd be read, LOL! But yes, those HEA endings make that conflict worthwhile.
      Thanks so much for your comment, and for being a precious friend.
      Hugs, Patti Jo

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  4. As a former kindergarten teacher...and a non-confrontational person, I understand your difficulty in being "tough" with characters. Yes, as you stated, writers need to keep conflict so our message of hope and faith reaches our readers. Overcoming difficulties to find that treasured happily ever after makes our stories interesting and strong. Great post, my friend, on why we writers must be tough!

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    1. Hi Sherida - - my fellow former kindergarten teacher! Yes, you understand exactly why I struggle with being tough, and why we must make ourselves add that element to our stories.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for being a dear friend!
      Hugs, Patti Jo

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  5. I share your sentiments and struggles with adding conflict, Patti Jo (and my mother was a kindergarten teacher/director for years). The way I see it, life has enough angst, and not every relationship has deep struggles in "real" life. I remember when more seasoned writers used to tell us that we needed to throw every bad thing we could at our H/h to keep them apart. I've found a nice balance in my books with outside forces working against a couple which, in turn, makes them work together (and thus draws them closer). In my humble opinion, couples fall in love when they face the struggles TOGETHER (not apart) and learn lessons in love and faith. Climbing off my soapbox now. All to say, it CAN be done. :) Blessings in your writing projects!

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    1. Hi JoAnn! Well-said - - and I agree. I enjoy reading stories that feature a couple needing to work together to solve a problem (or face a struggle).
      Thanks so much for commenting, and you hop on that soapbox whenever you need to, LOL! ;)
      Blessings, Patti Jo

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  6. Oh I do have trouble creating conflict between two people...particularly when I know they will walk off in the sunset together. But I've come to relish the value of the conflict, nurturing ideas unique to the characters. It truly does add entertainment value for the reader. Great post!

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    1. Hi Mary, I love your comment about the conflict adding entertainment value for the reader---YES! And that's what I have to remind myself (quite often) because we want our readers to be entertained and glad they read our books, rather than feel they were wasting time.
      Thank you so much for commenting! :)
      Blessings, Patti Jo

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  7. Some of my stories have more conflict than others. Thank you for this post. I will be more aware of the amount of conflict in my stories. :-)

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    1. Hi Melissa, Thank you so much for commenting!
      Yes, I have to really make myself aware of the amount of conflict, because I tend to have my characters go on their merry way, but then I have to stop and "be tough" with them (cringe!). It's an ongoing effort for me.
      Thanks again for commenting!
      Blessings, Patti Jo :)

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  8. Hi, Patti Jo! I've been fortunate to meet you and I'd use two words to describe you - peachy keen or Georgia peach. I struggle a lot with internal conflict as I tend to rely more on external conflict. Thanks for sharing why we need to be tough on our characters!

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    1. Oh Tanya, bless your heart!! :) Your "peach" comment made me smile! I still have wonderful memories of meeting you in Nashville at ACFW several years ago, and how kind you were. I enjoyed being around you, and wish we lived closer.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, sweet friend!
      Hugs, Patti Jo

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  9. Patti Jo, the person who introduced me to you told me you were the sweetest person. I totally agree!

    You know how some people love drama in their lives and aren't happy if something isn't going on? Not me, I like things peaceful. Unfortunately that doesn't work well with my characters. My grandmother used to tell us to play pretty, which meant no fighting. I've discovered playing pretty makes my hero and heroine boring. I'll try and be tougher on my characters in the future. Thanks for the reminder.

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  10. Terri, I LOVE your grandmother's phrase - - "play pretty" - - that's perfect! But yes, you're right about that making our H/H boring, so it's something I am continuing to work on.
    I'll share this also: Just recently my sister and I were talking about people we've known who seem to thrive on drama. Not us! We like peaceful, smooth times!
    Thanks so much for commenting---you are a special friend.
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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