Monday, March 1, 2010

Get 'There' Already!!!

So, yesterday, I'm reading a book a friend loaned me. Very good book. I'm reading, reading, reading, reading and, on Page 141 to be exact, the conflict of the story suddenly appears. Yes, on Page 141!

This, dear readers, made me pause and go huh???? Shouldn't I have known about the conflict a bit earlier in the novel? Shouldn't I have had some clue about the major conflict, the force that will propel the main character forward into action just a wee bit sooner?

So, my thought was get there already, with the there being the introduction of the conflict.

Don't get me wrong. I love the book. I understand characters have to have their introductions, but . . . Page 141.

The question for the day: at what point should the conflict (insert big, echoing, computer generated voice repeating the word endlessly) be introduced? Does the reader need to know the conflict early, middle, or late in the book? Does the place (i.e., beginning, middle, end) of introduction matter as long as interesting stuff is happening up to the introduction of conflict?

As for me, I normally introduce the conflict early so that the readers know what the main character is struggling for, pretty much from the beginning. I don't wait until Page 141. I'm not sure why - again, not dissing the book, love the book, just wondering why - the author waited this long to say: here's the conflict, here's what the MC must do to . . .

Thoughts??

S

12 comments:

Tess said...

I would have put that book down long before the 141 pages mark. That is way too late, imho, to introduce the conflict. For me, it needs to be in the first 1/3 of the novel. Well, preferably in the first 75 pages or so.

Jody Hedlund said...

I have many different types of conflict in my WIP. Each of my main characters has an internal conflict, and I've introduced those very early. Of course, there's a relationship conflict (since I write romance!). But my external conflict is developing more slowly due to the nature of the story. I've dropped hints however of what's to come, but I may need to go back during my editing and add even more hints. In other words, we need to get the conflict threads started early for each area, but maybe they won't weave together more fully into a little later in the story. Hope that makes sense!

Scott said...

Tess - the book is good, otherwise I would have put it down by now. I was just amazed when I realized the main conflict wasn't revealed until Page 141! I pretty much think, like you, the conflict revelation should happen in the first 1/3 of the book.

Jody - I always, always have internal conflicts which pretty much drive the story, along with the major hurdle. In the instance of this book, the whole premise is pretty much built around this huge conflict . . . and yet the author waited a good while to say 'hey, here it is!'. Still, I'm not dissing the author, because the writing is good, the book is good, the placement of the conflict just made me go 'huh'!

S

Jayne said...

Hi Scott! I think it depends - the book obviously held your attention so did it need to state its conflict? I don’t mind a long build up as long as everything before it is good. If the book has sort of meandered its way towards the conflict then I’d have wandered off by page 141 - gosh by page 50 I'd be a bit cross-eyed.

Lady Glamis said...

Wow, that's LATE! It depends on how long the book is, though. I like to see the conflict at least in the first 1/3 of the. And there'd better be some dang good tension going on before it's introduced, too.

Scott said...

Jayne - the book is interesting, it is good, lots of stuff happened prior to the main conflict, but it's just the main, primary conflict doesn't get revealed until Page 141 and made me go 'huh' and want to know how other writers handle the revelation of the main conflict.

Lady Glamis - there were definitely good bits of tension and other stuff going on. I guess since 'conflict' is such a part of any story, that I was surprised the main 'conflict' happened so far into the story. With my writing, I normally introduce the conflict fairly early in the story so the reader knows what is at stake for the main character. By Page 141, the character better be doing something about resolving that conflict. : )

S

Elana Johnson said...

I can't believe you made it that far, honestly. I give books 100 pages and that's it. Recently, my agent told me I needed to move up my villain. By page 50, she said. So yeah. The earlier the better, I think. :)

Scott said...

Elana - had it been a dull and boring book, I don't think I would have made it that far. Since it was interesting up to that point, I kept reading and then - wham, bam, hit me over the head - the major conflict was introduced BIG TIME!

Davin Malasarn said...

The best case scenario for me is when the conflict starts at the very beginning of the story, but I don't know it yet. I love it when the conflict creeps up on me and then, I look back at what I've written and realize it was there all along!

Tamika: said...

Page 141! In today's strict publishing I'm surprised. This couldn't have been a debut author.

Conflict should be sprinkled in the first chapter. The reader should feel a struggle brewing right away.

Scott said...

Davin - I'm with you on that one. I try to present the major conflict in the first chapter so the reader has a clue what the MC will be dealing with throughout the novel.

Tamika - this is the first book in a series. I'm not sure if it was the debut book for the author or not. A friend of mine thinks the setup to the revelation was necessary since it was the first book in the series. I'm not sure I agree. Then again, rules were made to be broken. Ha!

Robyn Campbell said...

Uh! Swamp land. North Dakota. Be there, K? ;)

Yup the ol' email is out again. But. We are switching domain companies in April. So I'm using the hubs business email. Gee, it doesn't have my address book. And what if an agent contacts me?

*screaming* *loudly*