First off, let me apologize for not making a real entry in so long. Along with just being a bit of a slow reader, my literary life has been in a bit of a mess the past few weeks. You see, all of my writing – fiction, outlines, blog ideas, lists, etc. – were stored on a single jump drive. Which I lost. I’m still hoping to find it somewhere in my bedroom but, in the meantime, I’ve been attempting to recreate all of the important files. Like my painstakingly detailed book list. It is time-consuming. Fortunately, I do have a hard copy of nearly all of my fiction but I’m still heartbroken over the little bit that I have lost completely (unless I find that drive). I’ve learned my lesson (you’d have thought I’d have learned it after my jump drive went through the laundry). I now have two digital copies of everything and I have yet to write any of my fiction on the computer. I’m a coward. Also, I’m feeling uncommonly creative these days so my hand right hand is badly cramped by the end of each day.
But the woes of the disorganized are not the subject of this entry. In much of my education as a writer, I keep reading about how important conflict is to any story. I get it now.
I just finished reading Amy Rivers’s debut novel, Wallflower Blooming about a shy but successful young businesswoman who steps out of her comfort zone to help with her cousin and best friend’s political campaign for mayor. Along the way she gets a taste of the bad as well as the good that can come from opening herself up to a more social life and though there is a time she thinks it may break her and she will follow in her father’s footsteps, she comes out stronger and happier. It is a nice, uplifting story but I don’t feel that it reaches its potential. On the surface, it has conflict aplenty. The typical conflict between the two candidates; verbal and at times physical conflict between the incumbent and practically everyone; Val’s inner conflict about her father and her own discomfort with the spotlight, and the conflict that comes at the beginning of every new relationship. There is potential for a lot of drama here but each of these conflicts is resolved too easily. The two candidates don’t actually interact a lot and their interactions seem watered down. We never discover the cause of the incumbent’s volatile behavior even when it comes to a head in a scene that could have been so much more dramatic and empowering. Val’s family issues are on the mend after just one phone call, she’s a stronger, braver person after just one visit to the therapist, and she comes to terms with her trust issues and fear of the spotlight in a matter of a few short months. The romance only has one real bump that is quickly surmounted before everything is perfect. Everything is just too easy. And easy, it turns out, isn’t interesting. I found myself – more than usual – thinking of directions the scenes could have taken that would have made it more interesting and unpredictable.