Conflict Makes the World Go Around

Today’s guest is J. R. Lindermuth, a retired newspaper editor and the author of 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick crime series. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society, where he assists patrons with genealogy and research.  He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. Lindermuth’s  latest novel is The Tithing Herd, a classic Western.  He will give a digital copy to one of those who leaves a comment.  I’ve read the book.  I suggest you leave a comment.

All of us are defined by our desires. What we want, as well as what we need to sustain our lives. What a person is willing to do to achieve these desires creates conflict, both within ourselves and with others.

These conflicts–big and small–make the world go around. That is, our personal world–how we navigate in our personal lives as well as in our interactions with other people.

Conflict, therefore, is a necessity in any work of fiction if we want readers to accept the “reality” of our characters. Kurt Vonnegut suggested writers make their characters want something on every page. These desires, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, reveal the nature of the character.

Such little revelations may not be important to the overall plot, but they give even minor characters a hint of humanity, something the reader can relate to and help stimulate interest in your people. Still, they shouldn’t be mediocre. Some psychological crisis or a secret which could relate to the plot would be better than Charley J. worrying will he have enough cash left this week to paint his porch.

Lester Dent, the prolific pulp writer and creator of Doc Savage, suggested introducing the hero and swatting him with a fistful of trouble right at the start and keeping it up throughout the story. That’s certainly conflict and guaranteed to keep the pot a-boiling, essential in a pulp story. But sometimes it’s better to spread the conflict between all the major characters and sort out the problems between them as happens in real life. We’re all individuals, but relationships with others are important to our overall welfare. Action is important to move a story, but it doesn’t always have to involve gunfights or car chases to be interesting.

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In my latest novel The Tithing Herd, Lute Donnelly is a former lawman obsessed with the idea of vengeance against the outlaws who murdered his brother. Lute is diverted first from his goal by compassion for Tom Baskin, a youth duped by the outlaws and falsely accused of rustling. Helping Tom enables Lute to regain a semblance of his true nature. He’s diverted once more when Serene McCullough, the woman he loves, begs his help in moving the herd cash-strapped Mormons have gathered to pay their church tithe. When the outlaws kidnap Serene and hold her ransom for the cattle Lute’s desire for vengeance is supplanted by desperation to rescue her.

Each of the other major characters in this story also have desires driving them to act as they do. Granted, most of those desires are of less significance than that of my protagonist, but they are essential to the action of the story and to their relationship with Donnelly.

The Tithing Herd is available from Sundown Press http://www.sundownpress.com/, the publisher; on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major booksellers.

For more about the author and his books visit http://www.jrlindermuth.net

And remember to leave a comment – even a short one – for a chance to receive a free copy of this classical western.

 

 

Add a Pinch of Stress

Many years ago, I took a flight from Houston to Oklahoma City. It was a normal flight for me. But this time, I was seated next to a psychologist. He worked in central America, but was traveling back to Oklahoma City for a visit with his mother. He was very sell-assured and did not for a minute mind telling me of his accomplishments.

I noticed that we had arrived in the Oklahoma City area, but rather than landing, we were circling. Having landed at the Will Rogers Airport many times, I was familiar with the normal flight patterns. This was not normal.

After awhile, the pilot came on the intercom and said that while all seemed okay, the light that indicated the landing gear was locked into position had not come on.   We were returning to the Dallas Airport. (Dallas was the home base for this airline.) We would pass low over the airport and let the technical people study the situation and then make a decision on what to do.

This caused a great deal of conversations around the plane. But my seat partner suddenly became very quiet. The flight attendants asked me to help them prepare and I agreed. We took blankets and asked people to put their shoes, purses, glasses, etc. into our make-shift bags. When we filled up a blanket, we stored it in a restroom.

At this point, I observed a strange phenomena.   Women would hand over their purse with little objection. But when it came to the shoes, many were not easily convinced. They did not want to give up their shoes. (I never understood why this was necessary, but the flight attendants were adamant about it.)

By the time this was accomplished, we were in the Dallas area. We made a pass , slow and low, and we could see many people with binoculars, studying the landing gear of our plane. After a few minutes, the pilot was back on the intercom, telling us that the landing gear looked okay. So, they were not going to put down foam, because If the gear was securely locked in place, it was safer without foam.

My psychologist seat partner refused to give up his shoes. Finally, two flight attendants, both barefooted, came and told him that every other person had complied and we were in a holding pattern until he complied. Grumbling loudly, he handed over his shoes.

At this point, he became very vocal. He blamed his mother for his being on this flight. He hadn’t wanted to come at this time, but no, nothing would do for his mother but that he come see her. She wasn’t dying or anything. He ranted and griped the seat back in front of him so severely the person seated there ask him to stop shaking the seat.

This self-assured, confident man, became a basket case once a little stress was placed on him. My thought was that he really needed to see a psychologist.

As we approached the runway, we could see many fire trucks and emergency equipment lined up along our path. he pilot set the plane down softer than any landing I’ve ever been on, before or since. A cheer went up.

We padded into the terminal, all without shoes. Then airline employees brought out all the shoes, purses and glasses. It was a jovial group now that we were safely on the ground. They didn’t even complain about having to look for their shoes.

So, put your characters under some stress and see how they change. It happens in real life. It should happen in the lives of your characters. Even if they are not psychologists.

Share your moment of stress with us.  Thanks.

Award for A Silver Medallion

Another Award for A Silver Medallion

An Interview with Juan Grande

Interview with Juan Grande

Jim: Today, I’m interviewing Juan Grande. He lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and as I understand it, he was a big help to Crystal Moore in A Silver Medallion. How are you today, Mr. Grande?Cover - A Silver Medallion

Juan: I am fine, gracias. I not know where “Grande” come from. Please call me Juan.

Jim: Okay, Juan. Of course, Juan Grande translates to Big John. You must admit, you are a stout person.

Juan: Please forgive my English. I not know “stout.” My wife call me solid.

Jim: Okay. That works for me. How did you get to know Crystal?

Juan: My amigo Bull O’Malley call me . Ask I look after her. Help her if possible.

Jim:   Did he tell you what help she might need?

Juan: He say she want rescue two niñas, ah, girls, from bad man in San Sebastian.

Jim: Just how bad was this man in San Sebastian?

Juan: Muy bad. Kill people. Steal. Lie. I think drugs.

Jim: Kills people? Who is this man? What is his name?

Juan: He is called Josè Rodriquez de Allende.

Jim: Can’t the police arrest him, lock him up?

Juan: He is rich, powerful. Many men work for him. Maybe police also. He own police. We no get help from police.

Jim: That’s sounds like a big order. How did you go about it? And were you successful?

Juan: I no can tell you. Author tell me no give away plot.

Jim: It sounds dangerous. Did Crystal work with you? Did she help any, or did she just come down and ask you and your men to do it?

Juan: I ask her stay in Puerto Vallarta. Me and my men rescue girls. But she say no. She must help. She no can ask me do it and not help. I beg her stay in Puerto Vallarta. But she no let us go and not she go.

Jim: Did she actually do anything to help?

Juan: Si. Yes. She muy importante. She take girls away.

Jim: Took them away? How did she do that?

Juan: I no can tell you. Author tell me no give away plot.

Jim: Juan, your English is pretty good. Where did you learn it?

Juan: Mi esposa, ah, wife, take university in Texas. She speak good English. I learn some.

Jim: How do you know Mark?

Juan: Bull have home in Vallarta. I meet him long time back. He ride the bulls. He ride one time here. We have much memories.

Jim: Juan, it has been a pleasure talking with you. And I’m anxious to find out if you got the young girls free, and how you – and Crystal – accomplished it if you did. Thank you for your time, and stay safe from Josè Rodriquez de Allende.

Readers, as I understand it, Juan Grande was instrumental in the rescue of the girls. And while he wouldn’t say if they succeeded of not, I believe they were successful. Otherwise, Juan Grande might not be here today. But, I’m getting on the Internet right now to get a copy of A Silver Medallion.   Would you like to join me?

Kindle:  http://amzn.to/1WxoEaF

90 secondTrailer:   https://animoto.com/play/key7NqR0qbmN1JVWrCe8RA#

 

 

Make Flawed Characters Likable

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The 10-day Writing Challenge

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