A Unique Way to Develop Conflict in Your Novel for Pantsers

Today is the sixth in an 8-post series on preparing your novel for Nanowrimo. In today’s post, we focus a unique way to develop conflict in your story for pantsers. 

If you missed it, the first step in your novel preparation is your elevator pitch and the second step is crafting your story synopsis. The third post on preparing your characters is here. The fourth post is here on world building. The fifth post on plot and story building tips is here. (All the posts are here.)

Keep in mind: Take note of your genre and review the information you drafted about your characters.

Time to budget: I recommend you spend at least of 20 minutes to do this exercise for your story.


Uncover Your Character’s Worst Fears to Discover Your Story Conflicts

I’m a pantser. That means I like to write my stories by the seat of my pants. The problem was, when I started writing novels, the inspiration for my story and the love of my characters wasn’t enough. I needed a way to figure out the story, but all the standard plot tools didn’t work for me, or not very well. I was still stuck on how to create a compelling story that would keep me and my readers riveted to the page and caring what happened to my dear characters.

One day at a writing workshop, the teacher had us brainstorm our character’s worst fears, and then think of the worst thing after that, and even further, think of the worst fear after that.

I did this exercise and shuttered in fear at all horrible things I dreamed up for my character. And then I experienced an Aha. The Aha wasn’t that I scared myself with my imagination, even though that’s what happened. My Aha was about using my strength of knowing my characters well to craft the story from start to finish.

So that’s what I do now. I start the novel preparation process for all my novels and novellas with drafting my characters. Then I spend extra time on uncovering their worst fears.

Here’s how you can do the same…

Exercise: “List of 20”

On a piece of paper or on your computer, list from 1 to 20.

Then set the timer for 10 minutes. Now brainstorm your character’s worst fears. Keep moving your hand across the page to uncover more worse possibilities.

You may be surprised at what you discover.

Review your work and if need be, organize the fears from bad to worse.



Please share me on social media: Instagram, Pinterest, etc.!

Plan Your Novel 30-Day Writing Challenge, starts October 1st

If you’d like hands-on support to plan your novel for Nanowrimo with your peers and with experienced instructors — Beth and Ezra Barany, then join us for our next course starting October 1st: 30-Day Writing Challenge to Plan Your Novel.

All the details for the course here.

Follow our tips on Twitter with the hashtag #30dayWC.





The Five Kingdom series about Henrietta The Dragon Slayer by Beth Barany

The Five Kingdom series about Henrietta The Dragon Slayer by Beth Barany

Award-winning novelist and creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany has been making up fantasy and adventure stories all her life. She writes magical tales of romance and adventure for women and girls to transport them to new worlds where anything is possible. She empowers novelists to write, publish, and market their genre novels.


Books by Ezra BaranyBook marketing mentor, Ezra Barany is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Torah Codes. Contact Ezra today to begin the conversation on how he can help you design your book cover or pitch via FacebookTwitter, or contact him through this blog, or email: EZRA at THETORAHCODES dot COM.

Tip #7: A simple tool to design your plot called “Problem-Solution”

List of all 8 tips here.

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2 Responses

  1. Arresting stuff here, Beth. The worst fears angle re characters caught my eye.

  2. Beth Barany says:

    So glad, Godffrey! It’s one of my favorite ways into a story as a novelist.

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