Peace and Safety Fear and Conflict

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by Davalynn Spencer

Okay, I admit it. I talk to my characters. Sort of. Basically, they let me peek into their lives and see what they’re up to. I’m glad they trust me that much, because how else could I accurately tell their story?

However, we don’t always see eye to eye.

For example, I recently stood at the top of a hill with a heroine while she loaded two caged kittens, a Queensland heeler pup, her lap top, and a few clothes into her new Mercedes roadster. Not interesting on the surface, apart from the wild-land fire roaring over the ridge right behind us.

Hurry it up, my inner voice screamed.

I saw her pause, wondering what to do next.

Get in the car and drive away!

Of course she didn’t. She went back for one more load of junk and left the car door ajar.

No! If the dog escapes, that will change everything.

The puppy squeezed out. The heroine dashed from the house toward her Mercedes, arms full. She screamed at the puppy. Terrified, the dog bolted down the hill-in the wrong direction. (Who’s writing this story, anyway?)

We can save this scene. Let him go. He’ll be fine. Animals have an innate sense of self-preservation. Just get in the car.

The heroine actually turned to look at me, like she knew I’d been there all along but didn’t care. We had this little mental tug-o-war about plotline. Would she drive down the opposite side of the hill (like she was supposed to) and find the puppy later? Or would she go after him on foot over the granite boulders and risk dying in the flames?

I don’t like conflict and unforeseen complications. I’m uncomfortable with flames dancing at my heels and melting the tires on a great little car. I want peace and safety. I want resolution already.

I don’t have to tell you who won the tug, do I?

Conflict is all about goal-thwarting…which I hate in real life. That’s not how I want things to go in my day-to-day routine. But in fiction, which is simply real life with someone else’s name attached, the absence of conflict is the absence of interest.

I’m learning to be interesting.

Thanks to my characters.

Davalynn Spencer is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and adjunct writing professor whose inspirational romantic suspense is represented by Hartline Literary Agency. As Your Are at Christmas releases December 2012 from the Pelican Book Group. Find her online at or

Comments 0

  1. What a GREAT post! And so true. It’s a constant battle between wanting everything to tie up nice-and-neat at the end of every chapter, and letting our characters be wayward children and get themselves into heaps of trouble. Loved this, Davalynn!

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