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Internal Conflict and External Conflict in my Novel Manuscript, by Onil Lad

During the last month it became apparent that although my characters had internal issues and personal problems coming out of their ears, the external obstacles in their way were neither unique nor exciting. In effect, my unbalanced novel was aimlessly meandering through scenes that lacked coherence and direction. I’d just about written myself into a dead-end.

From the start, Steve Rossiter had pounded on about the virtues of creating a detailed outline. Maybe my “au natural” method would have produced results in a couple of years time, but I’d already wasted a year and the deadline for this endeavor was looming large on the horizon. So, I finally listened and decided to give it a go.

The detailed outline I created focused every scene and chapter on 2 things:

1.      Achieving the hero’s goal.

2.      Achieving the goal of the novel.

The outline split the novel into 7 sequences of 3 to 6 chapters. Each chapter will be structured like a short story in order to keep the readers interest up and each sequence or group of chapters will end with a cliffhanger that leads into the next section of the story. I’ve tried to give each scene and chapter a goal for the main character and a goal to progress the novel.

Something like this:

Sequence 4 – The New Parker Mayne.

Parker Mayne’s Goal:  To come to terms with his newly acquired dark side. To learn to use that pent up hatred to his advantage.

Goal for the Novel: To plunge Parker into the heart of a nightmare. To change him from a cynical loser to a cruel anti-hero. To feed the reader more details about the orphan-girl and to hint at the nature of his crime.

It’s meant that I’ve been able to keep my novel on track and ensure that every chapter has a point and that the story moves along as quickly as possible.

The detailed outline gave me a birds-eye view of the road ahead. With the overall picture in front of me, it was clear where the story needed pepping up. It was too depressing. For once I wanted to create something that delivered a magical and uplifting ending. I amended the outline to add in a few more upbeat chapters and changed the final sequence. I figured that my characters had been subjected to more than enough pain and suffering throughout the rest of the story. I chucked out half the chapters that I’d written before and changed the tone of the novel. The whole piece would be leaner and stronger.

The outline is now in place and I’m working towards filling out the details.

Trying to write almost every day has been a struggle. It has to get easier from now on, surely.

I don’t want to get carried away and claim that outlining is the next best thing unless it actually works. By the time the next blog comes around, I’ll have a better idea of where I stand with it.

I just wish that I could get it all written down quicker.


Onil Lad bio page

Writing Genre Fiction: A Guide to the CraftMany Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular FictionOn WritingWriting the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements into Your StoryThe Beginner's Guide to Writing a NovelSuccessful Novel PlottingScreenwriting: The Sequence Approach

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Good advice, Onil. I found that having a detailed outline has helped a lot. I’ll be interested to see if you feel it’s helped in your next post.

    May 30, 2012

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