I love coming up with characters, but struggle to give them genuine problems. And then I struggle to find them genuine, quality solutions to those problems.
I find it really, really hard. Reeeeaaaallly hard. And given that it is the majority of what writing a novel is all about, that can make life as a writer a bit of a nightmare at times.
I recently watched this clip with Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame. They offer some simple, yet amazing advice to writers who are plotting their story. Instead of thinking, “And then …” when you are plotting out the beats of your story, you need to be thinking, “Therefore … but ….” This constantly creates conflict and tension in your storyline and prevents smooth sailing for your characters.
I’m testing it out at the moment and trying to use it on the next piece I’m developing. I wouldn’t say that it is a quick fix, but it definitely helps to stop me creating a simple, linear storyline without much real conflict. If I can’t fit ‘Therefore …. but …” in between my plot points, they probably aren’t exciting enough to be there. Do you agree? Have you tried this strategy and did it work for you?