Plotting 4 Pantsers — Part VII

They are the glue that unites the internal with the external. The internal deals with our feelings. External deals with our relationship with others. Interpersonal struggles are the “bridge” between internal and external struggles. #Plotting4Pantsers #InterpersonalCharacterStruggles @donnalhsmith @a3writers TWEETABLE

Conflict, intimacy, and misunderstanding are possible with every interpersonal relationship we have.

Conflict—battle, fight, war, struggle, skirmish. Those are synonyms for the word conflict. Every scene must have conflict in order to help drive the story forward. Conflict in dialogue, in actions, etc. must be present in your scenes.

Intimacy—familiarity, closeness, understanding, confidence, caring. Every relationship has the potential to develop an intimacy, that closeness with caring we all need. With whom will your characters feel this familiarity? What needs to be overcome within the characters’ psyche to aid understanding?

Misunderstanding—mistake, error, confusion, mix-up, misinterpretation. Using this can help to build conflict in the interpersonal relationships of your characters. Our own personal “filters” push us into confusion or misinterpretation. It’s a great way to show the mix-up in understanding that characters get themselves into.

In my debut novel, Meghan’s Choice, I have three major POV characters. It’s a love triangle of sorts. There is conflict between Meghan, Duncan, and Scott. Both men pursue Meghan by courting her. But Meghan also has misunderstandings with Duncan as she tries to get to know him. She misreads their repartee and causes hurt. Scott doesn’t like the cowboy because he’s in competition with him for Meghan. Duncan has his own ghosts of the past that haunt him and affect his ability to communicate with anyone else.

Meghan and Duncan have an easy and fun banter almost from the beginning. But Meghan tries to take it further, and winds up offending Duncan. He seriously thought she should have missed him while he was gone for a few days acquiring a bull for his boss. She hadn’t really thought of him much.

“Did you miss me?” His eyes gleamed.

How well could he take a tease? She hadn’t really missed him. Well, maybe a little. She missed their bantering. And she did enjoy the day he drove her home from the doctor’s. She could shamelessly flirt, to send them into another repartee. He seemed to enjoy that as much as she.

“And why should I miss you?”

She walked past him, realized he wasn’t with her, then turned to face him. His eyebrows furrowed, and his mouth hung open.

“So—you didn’t miss me? Was gone over a week.”

She looked heavenward then straight at him. “Duncan Wilcox, you seem to have a pretty high opinion of yourself.”

He drew his lips together. His eyes widened, then narrowed as his expression changed. He stood there, one hand on his hip, the other rubbing his chin, looking up at her. Obviously, he was either confused or annoyed or both.

Whenever a character has unmet desires, there will be that inner initiative to resolve to achieve those desires. As people, we need each other. We seldom can do things completely on our own. That’s why interpersonal relationships are important. Our emotions get involved as we try to connect with others in meaningful fellowship. Characters are the same.

Interpersonal relationships provide a multitude of opportunities to provide conflict, intimacy, and misunderstanding with our characters to spice up our stories. #Plotting4Pantsers #InterpersonalCharacterStruggles @donnalhsmith @a3writers TWEETABLE

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