Short Story Writing Tips - Does Your Character Overcome Each Problem?..
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Short Story Writing Tips - Does Your Character Overcome Each Problem?.

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by: Nick Vernon
Think of a conflict you have been through.

Why was it hard to resolve?

Was it because, beside the conflict itself, there were other problems associated with it? There was a lot at stake for you, wasn??t there? You weighed the consequences of each option and tried to come up with a solution, one that be satisfying, and in which you didn??t stand to lose.

Let me tell you of my experience?K

I once worked in a company where I clashed with a colleague. The conflict was created because of our personalities.

She was the bossy type ?V I didn??t like being bossed around.

The problems associated with this conflict were?K.

?? We couldn??t work together
?? Our dislike for each other disrupted the harmony of the workplace
?? Production suffered because we couldn??t work as a team

So, in order to overcome the conflict, we had to meet half way. I had to take orders from her occasionally and she had to be less bossy.

How was the conflict resolved?

It wasn??t.

She believed she had a right to order me around because she had been with the company for many years, where I had just started.

I believed she had no right because she was an employee of equal status as myself.

So the conflict ran up to the time when I decided to leave six months later for a better job. It was never resolved ?V we simply kept out of each other??s way.

This example is taken from real life and in real life conflicts at times don??t get resolved. But if I were to write about this incident in a short story, I would have to come up with ways to solve the problems, which in turn would resolve the conflict.

Because a story that doesn??t go anywhere, like my real life example didn??t, isn??t a story worth writing about.

So let??s make this incident into a short story?K

First, as I begin the story, I will introduce the conflict, stating what created it etc?K Then I will introduce the problems associated with this conflict. I will introduce one problem at a time; solve it before going onto the next one. This will keep my story running till it??s time to resolve the conflict.

So let??s start with problem number one?K

1) My two characters are unable work together

What can I do to solve this problem? I could throw them into a situation where they had to work together and would be unable to avoid each other. Perhaps give them a task that only they could perform. They wouldn??t be happy with the arrangement but that doesn??t matter.

What matters is that I solved the first problem in a believable manner.

Problem two?K

2) Their dislike for each other is disrupting the harmony of the workplace and affecting the other employees.

I could show the employees taking sides with whichever character they believe is right. This will divide the employees and create disruption in the workplace.

How can I solve this problem? I could have the situation solved by the employees themselves. When things get too bad, I could have the employees realize that it??s not worth fighting with each other.

I could have them realize how the atmosphere was pleasant before all this started, when everyone used to treat each other in a friendly manner. This realization would leave the two main characters to fight by themselves.

Side Note -

Just a special note here. It??s okay for others to solve a few of the problems in your story. For instance, you can have another character solve a problem, or nature or luck or coincidence or whatever. But?K

The conflict has to be solved by the main character himself.

End Of Side Note

3) Production suffered because they couldn??t work as a team

I could have one of the managers tell them in no uncertain terms that they??ll have to come up with an arrangement to work together or they will both be out of a job.

And now for the resolution of the conflict?K

Because the conflict arose from the way they are, they will have to change in order to resolve the conflict. This doesn??t mean that they will automatically start liking each other.

This won??t be believable. But they could come to realize that their colleagues might be right.

After losing their support, the main characters can come to realize that it would be more beneficial for them to make an effort to work with one another, rather than have to come to work everyday and work in an unpleasant atmosphere.


Problems are like stepping stones, which your character has to overcome in order to reach the conflict.

The conflict will be running throughout the story. It will be the source of where other problems come from. During the story, the conflict, although still visible in light of the other problems, will be in the background and it will only come forth when the other problems are solved.

When we bring the conflict forth, it means that other problems have already been solved and we are now at a stage where we can pay full attention to it and resolve it.

Problems should be addressed as they occur.

You??ll have to get each one out of the way before you can go to the next problem. We don??t leave a whole heap of problems and solve then when we reach the stage of solving our conflict.

This will require too many words of explanation and our story will loose its intensity. Too much information at once also bogs down readers.

Your story will need to unfold in a logical manner, in a manner where readers can digest the information given, before we give them more.

Also, be selective with the problems you throw in the character??s path. The problems should be ??thrown,?? in proportion to the story. Your skill as a writer will dictate how many problems the character has to face according to the length of your story.

If your skill hasn??t reached such a level, then you??ll be able to pick it up when you reach the final draft. If you see you have too many problems and the story drags on, cut them out.

If you see you have too many problems, which are left unresolved because you don??t have the time to solve them, cut them out also.

Take into account the relevance of your problems. They have to be relevant to the conflict.

To give you an example?K

If at any stage I introduced a problem, such as one of the character??s taking the other character??s parking space, this wouldn??t be relevant to the conflict. The conflict is about their personalities clashing (because one is bossy and the other doesn??t like being bossed.)

Problems are there to make things difficult for our characters, to keep our stories running.

About the author:
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers funny stories. Visit

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