Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Return of the Sheep

Sheep #1: We're baaaack.

Guardian: I just got the brain cleaned up after your last visit. Who knew that sheep shed?

Sheep #2: We did.

Guardian: Why are you back?

Sheep #1: Conflict.

Guardian: You don't have enough?

Sheep #2: We're sheep. Of course we're conflicted. Who's going to lead, who's going to follow, it's a power struggle.

Sheep #1: It's the writer. She's worried about conflict.

Guardian: I thought everything was going so well.

Sheep #2: Well, you were wrong. She's having a struggle with internal versus external conflict.

Guardian: We're back to the car chases and maniacs lurking in the attic, aren't we?

Sheep #1: That's right. Is it enough for a story to have its conflict takng place within each character and between characters? Is psychological conflict sufficient? Or do you have to throw in the equivalent of car chases and people rushing about lugging meat cleavers?

Guardian: Some of the best books involve psychological conflict.

Sheep #2: Yes, but those are important books. Books dealing with the riddle of life and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. Literary fiction. She's writing a mystery. Completely different genre.

Sheep #1: Don't get us wrong. We love mysteries. We love well written mysteries. But can she write this type? Will it work?

Guardian: I'm confused. She just read her draft and was quite pleased. I know. I felt the grin.

Sheep #2: She's conflicted. Ironic isn't it?

Guardian: What's the plan?

Sheep #1: We're just going to frolic about for a bit. Maybe jump a few fences. Usually if we show up she figures it out.

Sheep #2: I'd recommend keeping a watchful eye. Knives and speedy roadsters could be making an appearance.

Sheep #1: I've never driven before.

Sheep #2: Maybe that will be enough conflict.


  1. Elspeth - Oh, those *sheep!* It's always a challenge to figure out how to integrate conflict into a mystery. To my way of thinking, it's got to be subtle, but obvious enough to get the reader drawn in. On another level, I know exactly what you mean about being conflicted about one's work. I often am about mine. I like to think it's a sign of really caring about what one's writing, and wanting it to be one's best. ...or maybe I'm just obsessive-compulsive ; ).

  2. Oh, good ending!

    But I know how conflicted any writer can be over internal and external conflict. It gives me fits, too.

  3. I suggest lamb chops for dinner. Then you can get on with your writing.

  4. Margot; I want it to be the best it can be. Tell me how to achieve obvious subtle conflict and I'll buy you a sheep of your own!

    Carol; I'm glad someone else is given fits as well.

    Alan; Bring on the mint sauce.

  5. conflict is such a tricky word, no? How about - what does each person want? And what does it cost the others or herself? See what the sheep make of that.

  6. What a delightful dialog and way to make a point about writing. Loved it - especially the last two lines, lol.

    Marvin D Wilson

  7. Jan; What do I want? It's the old acting training coming to the fore.

    Old Silly; It was delightful? Thanks!

  8. I'm a multiple genre reader and I like a good balance of internal and external conflict in most books. In the interest of mass appeal, I don't think throwing in the odd "car chase" hurts. I'm not real big on meat cleaver scenes though :D

  9. In a mystery, it's never too much to have both internal and external conflict. And there are so many types of mysteries that you can decide how much external conflict you need.

    Straight From Hel

  10. Karen; I'm so pleased the sheeps' return made you smile.

    Deb; I would think living on a ranch you'd be all over the meat cleaver.

    Helen; It's so true isn't it? Let's hope I it the right balance.

  11. I think each mystery will have its unique balance of internal and external conflict. Depends so much on the situation and the characters.

  12. I find talking sheep disturbing. Do they interrupt you when you're writing? :)

  13. I have some cousins who are hunting fanatics. Lemme know if you need a hit on some sheep. :)

    The more conflict the better!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  14. I wondered where those sheep went when they weren't frolicking in my bedroom! As long as the story is moving forward at a good pace, I don't think it matters whether the conflict is external or internal.


Please leave a comment as I love to hear from you!