Scroll down for the link to part 2.
I love seeing what books rise to the top of my to-be-read pile. This past weekend I read DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. I turned pages so fast I could feel a breeze on my face. And I learned some practical applications for my own wip. #nospoilers #Ipromise
The way the external and internal conflict played off each other was incredible. And I grasped how powerful the Debate section can be in hooking your reader.
In Save The Cat, Blake Snyder talks about the Debate section. During the opening, the hero is faced with a question or choice. She/he knows the answer but really shouldn’t make that final decision to go on the quest until the end of Act I. So a big part of Act I is this debate – the main character figuring out what they should do.
In DIVERGENT, Beatrice belongs to the Abnegation faction in a dystopian world. When teens turn sixteen they take an aptitude test and attend a choosing ceremony. If they choose a different faction, they leave their family. Forever. #immediateconflict
From chapter one, Beatrice is not sure what to do. She has always felt she doesn’t fully belong in her faction. And then, during her aptitude test, something goes wrong, and she is left with no clear path. She must decide.
All the way through Act I, in every single chapter, every event that happens, every choice she has to make – the internal conflict is ramped. As it should be. She debates her decision before and after she makes it.
So, how can you increase conflict in Act I?
This is what I wrote in the top of a notebook while reading DIVERGENT.
Every outer event should cause the main character to question her very beliefs and who she is in order to expose her flaws, increase conflict, and develop reader empathy.
Seriously. Go read the book. And feel the tension on every page.
How do you create tension in the opening chapters?