The Two Question Novel Quiz Part 1: Conflict

Everybody knows that– much like the plot lines in the Wesley Snipes  
vehicle Passenger 57– a good novel needs to have conflict. My novel,  
for example, has so much conflict that my thesis advisor actually  
wants me to call it either Conflict(ed) or Hot Damn!!: A Novel. But  
today we’re focusing on you. And if you’re reading this, you’re more  
than likely writing a novel, or at least a thinly veiled memoir.  So  
DVR “The View”, sit down and answer these two simple questions and  
let’s find out if your novels got beef.

1. Which description most aptly describes your antagonist’s  
relationship with your protagonist?

A. My protagonist Casey likes Romantic Comedies whereas my antagonist  
Drew only kind of likes Romantic Comedies.

B. My protagonist is a 15 year old boy named Casey interested in  
seeing an R rated Romantic Comedy starring Michael Cera, but standing in his way is the ticket  
collector, a 17 year old boy named Drew who’s a stickler for the  
rules. It’s kind of a short book.

C. My protagonist Casey wants nothing more than to write the greatest  
Romantic Comedy of all time but standing in her way is the  
antagonist, Drew, who has made it his life mission to preserve  
Failure to Launch as the greatest romantic comedy of all time, and  
will stop at nothing (Nothing!!) to keep it that way. Plus they’re  
married.

D. My protagonist Casey is at Blockbuster with his antagonist Drew.  
Casey wants to get a Failure To Launch because he heard it’s the  
greatest Romantic Comedy of all time. Drew kills him with a longbow.

2. In How To Write a Damn Good Novel, James N. Frey discusses the  
importance of keeping your characters in a “crucible”, which he  
describes as “the container that holds the character’s together as  
things heat up…or the bond that keeps them in conflict with each  
other”. Pick the letter that best corresponds to the crucible your  
characters are in.

A. Drew dislikes Casey’s views on politics and they both live in the  
same city so they could, like, totally run into each other at Trader  
Joe’s and it would be awkward. The city is their crucible.

B. Drew hates Casey but Casey is his driving ed instructor. If Drew  
doesn’t pass Driver’s Ed, he has to take it again, which is a total  
waste of a summer. The class is their crucible.

C. Drew hates Casey but Casey is his sergeant in the army during the  
Mexican-American war of 1846. And they’re forced to share a tent. And  
Casey is married to his sister, Taylor, who’s a pretty good singer.  
The army, marriage, and shared space are their crucibles.

D. Drew hates Casey because Casey started to walk across the street  
when the Don’t Walk sign was blinking. F*ck a crucible, Drew kills  
Casey with a longbow.

Key:
Mostly A’s: Um, no, this isn’t going to work. I’ve seen more conflict  
on “Dora the Explorer”. In fact, go watch it.

Mostly B’s and C’s: Now we’re talking. Or maybe fighting. But in a  
good way. You’ve got all the right ingredients to have a potentially  
interesting and novel length conflict. And that Mexican-American war  
story seems like a surefire blockbuster. You’re welcome.

Mostly D’s: Unfortunately, you’ve got a case of what the pros like to  
call “jumping conflict”. Things accelerate without building up and  
don’t really add up. You’re like the Jerry Springer contestant of  
novel writing. Put down that longbow.

Let me know how you fare in the Comments. Have a great weekend.

Get Crunk,

KA

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

7 thoughts on “The Two Question Novel Quiz Part 1: Conflict

  1. Sierra

    I went with C’s, however all this discussion about longbows has given me the idea to include one in a scene, no doubt one where the conflict is dragging and I need to juice it up.
    As always, thank you for your unfailing inspiration. Your name will surely appear on the Acknowledgments page of my first novel, and yes- of course I will clarify that I am NOT thanking the K.A. heartthrob from “The School of Rock”. ;)

    Hugs,
    Sierra

  2. Latham

    B and C. The antagonist is always in the background – always mentioned as a potential threat, and each encounter is worse up to the climax.

    It is not a romantic novel but a fantasy. The quiz works whatever the genre.

  3. Kevin Alexander

    Nathan,

    Thanks for writing in. To answer your question, I’m not a romance writer. I don’t really know how to define the kind of fiction I write other than to say it doesn’t (yet) involve longbows. I do enjoy and frequently discuss romantic comedies though… especially those involving Hugh Grant and/or Julia Roberts.
    And Higgs…yes. Yes I do.

  4. Vicky Bell

    Although right now *I* am tempted to kill both my antagonist and protagonist with a longbow, I am pleased to say I chose all Cs all the time. Well, twice. Things are looking up.

    I love this blog ever so, by the way.

    Cheers
    Vicky

  5. Nathan Perror (Horror_Writer)

    Hey Kevin,

    This has nothing to do with the blog posted above.

    I took your novel quiz last night, I got mostly B’s, and no I’m not pretending. I’m actually normal.
    I’ve noticed that you mention romance novels a lot, is that because you’re a romance writer?

COMMENT