Use Avoidance to Heighten Conflict

As I rewrite an early chapter, it would be convenient to have the main character prefer to avoid conflict. My first reaction was: no way I can do that. It will reduce my chances for conflict. But then I started thinking…

  1. The stakes in any given chapter or scene won’t let her avoid conflict. So she will have an inner conflict (the wish to avoid conflict warring with the need to reach her scene goal) as well as an external conflict.
  2. If the main character was argumentative by nature, any conflict with another person would mean less because she’d be following her nature rather than fighting it. More tension there.
  3. When I change POV and the scene goal pits two other characters against one another, it will be natural for her to play peace-maker. Which makes for three-way tension because the strength of the scene goal and opposition won’t let them make peace without first resolving the dispute.
  4. If she avoids conflict when the stakes don’t matter, then she isn’t communicating truthfully and it can lead to misunderstandings and isolation from other characters. This presents problems she will be reluctant to address – much less solve.

Three guesses as to what I decided. Come on, surely you can come up with at least three possible paths forward…

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