Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Obstacles Add Tension in Story #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


As in life, obstacles can add tension in fiction or memoir stories. When I say this, I mean literally whatever keeps your protagonist from reaching her story goal is an obstacle. 
http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/


Obstacles can be physical things like:

Wild animals blocking the path back home
An evil villain forcing your protagonist to retreat or hide [antagonist]
Any treacherous trail to negotiate in order to find freedom [landscape]
An ice storm or bitter cold or icy waters to traverse [weather]
Government or societal corruption

But obstacles can also be internal things like:

Lacking physical ability to do something
Lacking in knowledge
Mental or physical illness
Regret
Mental or physical abuse
A bad relationship your protagonist can’t break free of
Inferiority
Any belief contrary to a logical standpoint [if someone’s being nice to you, that means they want something]

Writers should include both internal and external obstacles for their protagonists—in varying degrees of intensity. They can’t all be life-threatening in a story or the writer will run the risk of exhausting his reader. The writer needs to choose obstacles that mean something important to his protagonist. How the protagonist interprets these obstacles is the reason why writers include them in their stories.

If we turn to my college memoir, Victoria’s main obstacle in keeping her from obtaining her college degree is internal. It’s her belief that she can actually do it. It’s her feeling of inadequacy when compared to other college students.

A few external obstacles in this college journey are:
            Her children – Although they are the impetus for Victoria to begin college, the time they require in their growing up years collides with Vic’s ability to focus on college.
            Failing the math portion of the entrance exam.
            Professors – their teaching style and Vic’s ability to learn collide.
            Dropping a course in order to save sanity
            Vic’s always fighting the clock, trying to find time to complete assignments
            Vic struggles with learning subject material

Feel free to offer any insight regarding my obstacles in this college journey. It would be truly appreciated.

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here



30 comments:

  1. Hi Victoria Marie - if you can do it ... we all can! I admire your tenacity - and yes obstacles crop up all the time ... keeping sane, can keep us above the fray and not drag us down too far.

    Having a positive outlook would be key ... no point in being negative - which doesn't get anyone anywhere ... though inevitably we all experience it, til we get out of it.

    You can do it - and all obstacles can be overcome somehow - even if like my recent post - I admit failure ... it's a positive in its outcome ... but because we're bloggers we can mix and match.

    Well done - you get there ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Hilary. I truly appreciate your positivity here at Adventures in Writing. As you say, positivity is what keeps people trying to accomplish a goal. Yes, obstacles are a part of life. And everyone fails once in a while. The key is to become better because of it. I'll jump over to your blog to read your post.

      Thanks again for your positivity here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  2. Most obstacles in life tend to be the ones between our ears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. My. Gosh, Alex. That is so true. Thank you for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  3. I love Alex’s comment! That being said, as you point out, the obstacles can be internal and external. What a timely post, as I just read a blog about how a logline should be created. It basically has the protagonist, her goal, and the obstacles keeping her from reaching that goal. Which is also how a book should be put together. Weirdly enough, I never saw my memoir from that light. Yet, it is built around internal (not being able to choose, always wanting everything in life, being immature) and external (the weather, immigration issues,...) obstacles to reach my goal of freedom, love, and adventure.

    It looks to me that you have a whole list of obstacles to reach your college degree and you have integrated them well in the story. So, well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liesbet, I'd be lost without your logic here at Adventures in Writing. Thank you so much for sharing your insight. You are correct; your memoir has internal and external tension, too. And boy! Do you have adventures.

      Thanks again for your kind words regarding my memoir. They are truly appreciated. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  4. This is a great way of thinking about obstacles. I love how you've divided and explained things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing, Raimey. I really appreciate your comment. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  5. Love your list of obstacles! I'm going to try a few of them out :-)

    Ronel visiting on Author Toolbox day How to Set Up Instagram to Grow Your Author Business

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad these obstacles are universal, Ronel. Good luck with trying them out. And thanks for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you.

      Delete
  6. Great list of obstacles, thanks for sharing :)
    I'm trying to sort out my plot at the moment, so this is really helpful!
    I find I learn better if I take lots of notes, and if I'm struggling I rewrite them until they make sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very good idea, Louise. I take lots of notes, too, to help me understand. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  7. Great list. I think it will definitely trigger some creative sparks. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing, M.L. I sure hope you're right and that the obstacles do trigger creative sparks. Enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  8. Great point about the level of the obstacles. A lot of us can be derailed by things that may seem small to some. Love the lists!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing, Allie. I'm glad the points I make in this Obstacles post hit home with a lot of writers. Thanks again for your comment. All the best to you.

      Delete
  9. I find in my romance novels the internal obstacles are often about trust. In my fantasy novels, there are more external obstacles to add to the tension.
    http://susangourley.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust in romance sounds key to the plot of a couple coming together at the end. Fantasy demands external obstacles, Susan, but we need to remember that all characters are overcoming some internal force that plagues or bothers them throughout the story.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It's appreciated more than you realize. All the best to you.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anna. I truly appreciate that. And thanks for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you.

      Delete
  11. I always find the internal conflicts the most interesting. The external conflicts are easy to solve (especially if the author and audience don't mind an unbelievable coincidence or two). It's a lot harder to have a believable instant personality change - that has to be a journey, and the journey is what I find so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The internal conflicts are the most interesting, Iola. You are correct. Readers always want to know what's troubling the protagonist on the inside. And yes, to solve this internal problem, there needs to be a journey of change. The reader wants to see the protagonist change--on the inside.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It's appreciated more than you realize. All the best to you.

      Delete
  12. The biggest obstacle for me is definitely myself, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    www.ficklemillennial.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure, Gina. And thanks for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you.

      Delete
  13. Internal obstacles are the hardest to solve. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Aren't they, though? I think it's because of the difficulty of getting outside our own heads. Thanks so much for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend, Michelle.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. Money Amulet Thailand

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Ankita Dave! Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated. Have a beautiful weekend!

      Delete
  16. My character's internal obstacle is her bias against state welfare. She's her own worse enemy. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Many times our protagonists are their own worst enemies. I know I am in my college memoir. You have a great obstacle for your character's internal problem. State welfare is a wide problem, so make your character's problem with it personal.

    Thanks so much for your note here at Adventures in Writing. All the best to you!

    ReplyDelete