have a formula for just about everything. They’ve been telling
me for years that a mystery novel can’t be complete unless
the protagonist is facing some sort of conflict away from the main
story line. He or she must be dealing with a personal crisis in
addition to being up to their neck in murderers, thieves, and terrorists.
It could be a marriage gone bad, an estranged family member, or
a sick dog but it seems that they are required to simultaneously
handle multiple dilemmas if the story is to going to be worthy of
publishing. I’ve even seen complex graphs showing how conflict
is introduced, escalates, and then simmers throughout much of the
story. Finally it reaches the apex and is eventually extinguished
along with the villain. Like I said, it’s a formula.
they never said that the conflict had to be something bad. I’ve
toyed with the idea of having my cop hot on the trail of a serial
killer when, all of a sudden he hits the lottery for a hundred million
dollars. What would he do then? I know what I’d do. “Hey
Chief, here’s my notebook, it’s got all the details
about the suspect in it. Oh, and here’s my badge too.”
my books, the conflicts are more of a distraction than a quandary.
Sometimes they’re a love interest and at other times they
relate to the responsibilities of parenthood or some other mundane
problem. In The First Domino I have a little of everything.
Detective Otis Springfield is in the middle of a homicide investigation
when his mother suddenly dies from a stroke. Then he begins to uncover
the fascinating story of the heroic father that he never knew. Even
the bad guy has a conflict in this story, being forced to deal with
fear, the sudden emergence of a conscience, and new found love all
at the same time. And while I was on a roll developing conflicts
for my characters I added a Mafia Don still suffering from a childhood
emotional trauma and a hit man who thinks about paying for his sins
when he dies. Everybody’s got conflicts.
just glad that real life isn’t that complicated.