August 12, 2013


KIT receives more fiction than nonfiction.  I guessing authors believe it’s easier to write and to get published.  But that’s not necessarily true.  If authors fail to incorporate believable conflict in their fiction, they will probably have a harder time finding a market for their work.  

In a recent fiction submission, conflict was present, but misplaced.  The main character, a young boy, didn’t face a problem.  Instead, he learns of a tragedy through his parents.  After listening to his folk’s plan to help the victims, he too, decides to assist.  The young boy acts nobly, which sends a terrific message to readers.  But since true conflict is missing, the ending becomes predictable.

For fiction, conflict must touch the main character in a meaningful way.  Consequently, the stakes are raised and we care about the main character.  In this story, the author could have placed the child closer to the tragedy and had him personally affected.  This would have helped readers become more emotionally connected to the young boy as he learns to tackle the problem.  

Whether the story is for children or adults, all fiction must contain conflict.  Below is a conflict check list when writing for kids:

Present the conflict early in the story to hook your readers.
Create a meaningful conflict which directly affects the main character. 
Choose a conflict that kids can relate to.  
Build on conflict to create tension and suspense.
Have main characters solve the conflict themselves without any help from adults.

When you have provided a deeply personal conflict for the main character, then you have hit on advancing the plot and creating an emotional connection to your story.  Editors are keenly aware of the necessity and the prospects of good conflict.  When it is properly crafted, they won’t reach for a rejection slip.  They’ll be eager to keep on reading.  

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