Mikey's just released his new book, The Dreamkeeper, so I had to ask him to write a post about conflict. He's great at it. Enjoy!
Conflict in Middle-Grade Books
By: Mikey Brooks
Conflict is a key element in every book. It is what moves the story forward. Without conflict the story wouldn’t happen and there would be no change in the characters. Not only does it help add depth to story it helps readers relate to the human condition—how we change and grow throughout life. I have found with writing middle-grade that the conflict needs to start right away. This can be an internal or external conflict, but the readers need it at the beginning to hook them in.
Think about Harry Potter. In the very first chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone, you have the conflict of this boy-wizard going to live with the worst family of muggles. This conflict is what grabs the readers and they stay with the story because they want to know what is going to happen to Harry growing up with non-magical-people. Of course that is not the conflict of the whole story but it is what gets us started.
There are many ways in which to add conflict to story. Some of the basic types of conflict are:
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· Man against man
· Man against nature
· Man against society
· Man against self.
Or, if we are speaking of Harry Potter, they would look like this:
· Harry against Voldemort
· Harry against the magic world (or the non magic world)
· Harry against society (or the negative views of half-bloods)
· Harry against Harry (his internal conflict with himself)
All of these conflicts are seen in the Harry Potter books and that is what makes the story so compelling. Once you think one conflict has been resolved we have another conflict to deal with. This helps to keep the book moving along and your readers interested.
You will find that successful middle-grade and young adult books have various levels of conflict in their story. They also have both internal (shows change in the character), like Harry’s struggles with himself about the potential for being a dark wizard (we see this in the first book with the sorting hat), and external (the BIG conflict that moves the plot), like Harry’s quest to beat Professor Snap to getting the sorcerer’s stone.
When you think about conflict in creating your story think about two things: What is the BIG external conflict that moves the story, and what is the internal conflict that helps your character change over the course of the book. These are what will give your book a fantastic depth that readers will love. I hope you found this helpful.
I am excited to announce the release of my middle-grade fantasy THE DREAM KEEPER. It is an action-packed adventure with a toe in both the real world and the fantastic. When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?
“Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME.”
What is the external conflict in your story?
What novel has your favorite conflict?
Who's Mikey, you ask-- He's simply amazing. Check him out!
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series, and author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.
Stalk him in all these places-just click on the link-you won't be sorry
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Mikey-Brooks/e/B00B8ICZ4W
Facebook at: http://facebook.com/writtenbymikeybrooks
Twitter as: @writtenbymikey
What's his Book about?
When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?
Want more? Here it is-
Loser—the most frightening word to ever be uttered in middle school. Even the coolest kids are afraid of being associated with it. 14-year-old Parker Bennett is no exception. He can’t even be himself around his friends for fear they might not accept who he really is. When circumstances force him to team up with Kaelyn Clarke, the biggest loser in the ninth grade, Parker has to decide what is more important; protecting his social status or saving the world. Nightmare named Fyren has taken over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, with the intention of controlling mortals, and it falls on Parker, Kaelyn, and Gladamyr – the Dream Keeper – to stop him. They learn being called a loser is no longer a fear, when compared to the terror of real nightmares.
What are people saying about The Dreamkeeper?
“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.
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Paperback Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/4260677
Want a snippet from the actual book? Check it out!
Parker was about to assassinate the general of the goblin army. It wasn’t murder, it was an assignment. He tried to justify what he was about to do as he jumped from the rooftop and landed just above the battlement wall. It was the perfect spot to scout the camp. The goblins filling the keep were everywhere, sharpening blades and axes or gathering weapons for the impending battle. Parker noticed a large troll in the right hand corner of the space below, hammering solidly on a sword large enough to split three men into six. He spotted his target.
The general of the goblin army was a large brute with golden braids hanging down his chest. He was the one who had ordered the burning of Parker’s home village. The one who had ordered the death of Parker’s family and friends. This monster, this villain, was the reason Parker had set out on his journey to seek vengeance upon the unjust. This was the creature responsible for Parker swearing allegiance to the Mightercore army, who quickly gave him the role of assassin-scout.
Parker maneuvered his way down the wall, careful not to move too fast or his invisibility cloak would lose its power. He placed his foot in one crevice, then his hand in another. After a few moments of skilled climbing, Parker found himself precariously positioned just behind the golden haired brute, leaving only a small distance between him and his foe. In a quick session tactic, Parker could ignite his blade with the magic of the Mightercore and his target would be no more. He positioned himself to strike, raising his sword and whispering the incantation that would release the blade’s power—.
He ignored whoever was calling his name; they did not matter. All he saw was the villain before him. The completed spell ignited Parker’s sword with a blazing haze of blue fire, and he had to act fast.
The loud call startled him and he swung too late. The goblin general had already turned and he struck, forcing Parker back against the rocky battlements. Parker parried the attack and thrust forward with a low slash. The general sidestepped and lunged forward again. Parker parried and rolled away from the wall. A lightning spell was the only magic he had left. If he could find enough time to call out the incantation, he could have the general radiating electrons from every appendage.
He rolled until he was a good ten feet from his opponent, then quickly stood. Lifting his hand into the air, he called down the lightning. The sky filled with a brilliant white light, and the crack of thunder reverberated off the walls. Parker briefly closed his eyes then opened them, praying he had hit his target. As the white dust began to clear, he made out an image before him. He peered at it, his heart thumping.
The screen went black.
“Parker, I’ve called you three times. Now get off that machine and go do your homework.”
What is your favorite genre? Do you love to dive into a middle grade book every now and then or all the time?