Adding Depth with Conflict

ADDING DEPTH WITH CONFLICT: 

It is my belief there is no such thing as a bad idea. However, it is important to stop and think before you begin writing about how your story will be doing something new, interesting and engaging. 

So, assuming you have a bank of ideas to draw from, how do you work out which are the strongest? Most marketable? And how do you make them even stronger? 

As we’ve said, it is perhaps useful not to be too precious about your ideas when they strike. Experiment with them. Let them evolve. Try turning your idea on its head or combining it with a second, different idea and see what happens. Try out a few different arcs and decide which is the most entertaining. This is useful practice because coming up with standout ideas is difficult. Really difficult! Your first and even second could be rather ordinary or have been done before. Maybe even the third, too. You will most likely need to actively think bigger, better and deeper. 

If you’re about to start writing and your idea isn’t WOW (and perhaps a little mundane)… 

e.g a bear on picnic, a mouse in a house, a pig in mud, girl on beach 

…STOP and give it some active thought. Try adding depth and originality to your idea by taking it further and making it as BIG as it can be. Amy Sparkes gives excellent advice about how to ‘stretch’ an idea. She talks about making sure you have both an internal arc and external goal. 

For example, instead of a girl on the beach, what about a curious girl on beach with a stubborn limpet

The girl’s curiosity is the internal arc and the stubborn limpet is the external goal. This particular idea works well because the two are in direct contrast to one another. Conflict creates tension and excitement. It also drives your character to make choices and face problems, creating a far richer and more unique story. A curious girl and a friendly limpet might not be as strong. (If you haven’t read the story of Sally and the Limpet by Simon James it’s one of my favourites!) 

I have written more about making sure your idea is BIG enough to go the distance here:

https://write-mentor.com/2019/10/06/picture-books-how-to-distinguish-the-good-ideas-from-the-not-so-good-by-clare-helen-welsh/