Years ago, when The Emotion Thesaurus came out, I scoffed. A tool like that would make everyone’s books sound the same, right?
I have one of those natural brainstorming personalities, so I didn’t think I needed a list of possibilities. But the truth is, having a list to “shop” from frees up my creativity and inspires new ideas that aren’t in the list at all.
Their books are brainstorming food.
Two volumes are planned, but honestly, the story development ideas in the first volume will already last me a lifetime.
The introductory chapters gave me lots to think about
A thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is always equal parts master class and story shopping list. The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles was no exception.
Story theory from earlier Thesaurus books is deepened and connected here, so experienced writers will find excellent reminders and new insights.
Doesn’t every writer want to know how to make external conflicts trigger internal conflicts in their characters?
Does it work for children's authors?
I write books for ages 9 to 12, so I look at writing tools with that audience in mind. While working on the fourth book in my Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale series, I took an early review copy of The Conflict Thesaurus for a test drive.
My story has something to do with friendship and rules and the conflicts between them. I browsed The Conflict Thesaurus for help:
- Breaking the Law for a Good Reason
- Having to Steal to Obtain Something Vital
- Making a Discovery that Threatens the Bond of Friendship–Bingo, Bingo Bingo!!!!
- Needing to Sabotage Someone to Win
- Bureaucracy Tying One’s Hands
- Having to Punish Someone–Yes, this is going to be SO hard on Vlad!
- Having to Hurt Someone to Save Them from a Worse Fate–Ohh!!! This one looks like a winner!
In each entry, I highlighted anything I thought would apply to my main character.
His nickname is Vlad, the ultimate ruler. He’s an eleven-year-old prince and is expected to grow up to be the judge for the High Court in the Seven Kingdoms.
Each conflict includes the following sections:
- Minor Complications
- Potentially Disastrous Result
- Resulting Emotions
- Possible Internal Struggles
- Negative Traits That May Worsen the Situation
- Impact on Basic Needs (This includes a short description of how the conflict might affect Self-Actualization, Esteem and Recognition, Love and Belonging, Safety and Security)
- Positive Traits to Help the Character Cope
- Positive Outcomes
Obviously, there’s no way to use all of this in one story. Anything that made my main character come alive got a highlight. I like to export my highlights from my ereader and paste them into Scrivener.
Instant plot ideas list! Banish writer’s block at your house. 🙂
What did I find?
Fresh plot twists, potential antagonists, emotions for a highly-charged moment, character reactions to draw the reader in, and deep-seated motivations to help Vlad grow into a hero the reader could love and admire.
Excuse me, I have to go write a scene I’m kind of excited by . . .