Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Spanking Stories Wednesday---Conflict

There are a number of different definitions of what a story is, but generally it's something like:

A character who wants something and is willing to face conflict to get it.

If we just have a character who wants something, then that's someone sitting in a chair daydreaming. But, if we add conflict, internal or external or both, that creates a story.

Conflict creates action, or the anticipation of action, and that creates suspense. And that's what makes a story compelling.

In Underwear Probation, Daisy wants professional success, but she also wants to learn to submit to her husband. In this scene, those two desires appear to be in conflict, which creates tension.

           Time for your inspection. Please lean over the desk.”

Daisy looked toward the door, then back at Reece.

“The rules are meant to be followed immediately and without hesitation. Don’t you trust me to know what to do?”

“Y-yes,” Daisy was torn. She wanted to follow the rules and please Reece, but what if someone came to the door? How could she ever return to work once everyone in the office found out that she’d been caught bent over her desk with her bare ass exposed?

“I was going to lock the door,” Reece said, “but since you didn’t follow my instructions right away, I’m imposing a new sanction.”

Daisy watched in horror as he walked to the door and opened it a few inches, then turned to his wife. “You are my wife and you need to trust me. So, you can either trust my judgment and bend over that desk right now, or you can walk out that door. It’s your choice.”

In a spanking story, the question of submission can be a source of conflict. Even in a romance where you know there will be a happily ever after, the question of how they will get there, can they resolve their conflicts, is what keeps you reading.

In Cara Bristol's False Pretenses, Dan and Emma are totally hot for each other and rapidly falling in love. But, they each have a secret that the other doesn't know about. Keeping a secret creates conflict. How does Emma keep Dan from knowing what she's up to? Will he find out? What will happen if he does? As readers we know these two secrets are going to collide and that's what keeps us going. (Plus the hot sex and spanking...)

So, last week we talked about story ideas. Now that you have an idea or two, how can you create conflict? Conflict doesn't have to be two people arguing with each other. It can be an internal conflict: a woman wants to find love but she doesn't feel sexy because she's overweight, so when a man hits on her she ignores him because she assumes he just feels sorry for her. Her desire to find love is in conflict with her attitude about herself (which is NOT the same as saying she won't find love because she's fat).

An external conflict---they are on opposite sides of a hot button issue, or at least a hot button issue for the two of them. In the movie, You've Got Mail, the conflict is between the small, personal bookstore and the mega boxstore bookseller. Most people might not care, but for Meg Ryan's character, it was a big deal.

Conflict also molds the characters and at least one of them ends up changed in some way in order for the story to work out.

What are some ways to create conflict that you've seen in books or movies? Which ones work and which ones don't? Are there any that you think are overused?


  1. Thanks Celeste, I love these little lessons. It gets me thinking. I certainly want to be a better writer.

  2. Conflict is the engine that powers the story, no doubt about it.Recently I've used all kinds. Some of my stories are crime/mystery dramas with good guys and bad guys. But sometimes the conflict is internal, totally inside the mind of a character. Recently I've written a couple that call for an act of self sacrifice because that theme fascinates me. Those are interesting because it allows the reader to accompany the character as she goes through the agonizing decision making of whether to accept the challenge. In one, an old last will and testament called for three students at a girls prep school to submit to a ritual of chastisement in order to keep the school open. The story follows one of the three as she tries to decide what to do. In another a young woman has to act out a role that requires that she accept punishment to gain access to a secret location to retrieve a valuable document. So conflict is not always external, but it's always there if you are to have a good story.

  3. It's funny...I work the other way around in setting up a story. I start with my characters, get to know them, and set them in a situation. They get into masses of trouble and create conflict all by themselves! (What do you mean, they're like their author? :D )

    I think that even the most cliched conflict (an example for a spanking story cliche would be spanked for bad grades or a speeding ticket or smoking) can work if the author takes care in crafting the telling of the story.

    I also think a really great conflict can fall flat if we don't care about or believe in the characters. I can set up the most interesting character in the world, but if the spanker is a bully (and that's not built into the story) or the spankee is a tiresome frivolous character just trolling for attention (and that's not built into the story, either)...the power of conflict dissipates.

    Whereas even a trite conflict can hold power if we really and truly care about the characters involved.


    1. Ana---Thanks for stopping by. Are you the same Ana that Minelle has been telling me about? She says great things about your writing so I'm looking forward to checking it out too.

      You know...when I started this series it was trickier than I expected because writing isn't really a step one, step two, step three sort of process so breaking the different parts into weekly segments has been a little challenging. I agree that you need to know the characters well or else they are flat and no one cares about them or they start doing things that don't make sense because they aren't well thought out. Hopefully there will be a post about characters soon. :)

      Good point about the characters being likeable. I've read books and later thought "not much happened in that story, but I like the characters, so who cares?"

    2. Yes, indeedy! Minelle told me that she'd talked to you about me. I am signing in with my story blog this time so you can go there. Minelle is an unbelievable sweetheart. Blogland is lucky to have someone like her.

      I like your approach to teaching about writing. It's a very, very difficult thing to teach--and mostly it's taught very badly. People pay a lot of money to learn the kinds of things you are sharing. I just like to make things more complicated and difficult. :D

      But you are right...if we have wonderful, likable, believable characters and no conflict, it is boring. I keep writing my characters trying to resolve all the masses of trouble they've gotten themselves into, but it never ends. I guess if we write a resolution to all the conflict, we've written ourselves out of a job. :)

      I loved the snippet you put on PK's site this morning.

    3. Thanks! I'll check out your blog.

      I think interesting characters, by their very nature, are going to have some sort of conflict because interesting people get themselves into interesting's just not always what we thought would happen when we started the story. :)

    4. Thanks! I'd love to have you visit. If you're wanting just a quick taste without reading the entire 160 pages (so far), I'd recommend "Cafeteria Tray Sledding" or "The Roommate Agreement" or "An Interesting Thanksgiving". Those tend to be the favorites. :) (Hope your spam filter lets this go through even with three links..)

  4. Creating conflict and making it seem believable, yet exciting and not cliched is a challenge. Conflict in romance is especially tricky cause the focus is on the relationship. How do you bring two people together while simultaneously trying to drive them apart with conflict?

    In romantic suspense, which I call heroine-in-jeopardy, the conflict comes from outside the relationship, so you don't have that problem. In between dodging bullets and bad guys, the H/h can fall in love and screw like bunnies.

    I'm more of a character driven writer so I find the basis for conflict with the characters themselves. Pick two people and make them total opposites. In real life, they'd kill each other; in fiction, it makes for good drama.

    What bugs the hell out him? That's what she does. What does she have to have to be happy? That's what he won't give her.

    Anyway...that's my two cents. Thanks for mentioning False Pretenses. That was pleasant surprise!


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