Conflict and Character

One way to create conflict is through bonding. Bonding doesn’t have to happen with another person; the character could bond with a person, place or thing, but you have to show the reason for that bonding.

We all know how one person bonds to another person, but think of other things someone could bond to – a job, a place, a remembrance of a time past. We still have a candle that a family gave us for our wedding, forty-four years ago. The candle is starting to bend over, and I suspect it will fall over some day. Sadly, the family that gave us the candle died in a plane crash a few years after our wedding. We have a special bond to that candle.

You have to show the reasons for the bond. A reader needs to know what pulls a character to an item or what holds him in place. The reader needs to understand the inner conflict.

I got talking to a man who used to deliver special soil to our greenhouse. He and I would shovel it all into our shed. One time after we finished, we started talking. I asked him what he would like to be doing in five years.

“I don’t know.”

“Surely you must have some idea what you want to be doing.”


I could hardly believe it. But at this time he was content, just shoveling dirt every day. Nothing was bonding him to the future.

What is your character bonded to?


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