Most writers can summarize their story by stating the main conflict their protagonist must overcome, but what gets forgotten is the inner conflict the characters must face and overcome in order to reach their goals.
Conflict is never simple. If it were simple, it would be easy to solve. For many people, the conflict arise when standing in the way of what we want, but the adversary doesn’t mean its a person. The adversary could be ourselves.
Take for instance every writer’s dream to publish. Obviously there are obstacles in the way such as writer’s block, time constraints, agents who reject the story, and the ongoing struggles every writer need to contend. You also find obstacles of ourselves that stand in the way;
Fear is a bit obstacle for writers. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of writing badly, fear of edits, fear of confronting agents, and the list goes on and on. Courage is not the lack of fear, but facing those fears, just as the writer must continue to write through writer’s blocks, submit their work, and sign the contracts should they be accepted.
Lack of support from friends and family also provides a unique obstacle for some writers. This is the husband that doesn’t take the writing seriously, or the children who can’t stay quiet for the hour the parents needs to write, or even the friend who advises that ‘writing might not be the best way to make money’.
I’m fortunate I have support from friends, but what I find is lack of enthusiasm. I discovered I need someone regularly telling me ‘You can do it”, and to believe enough to nudge and offer the occasional pep talk. My writer’s group offers tons of this for me.
Ego often gets in the way of our goals by either being over-inflated to the point the writer can’t take criticism (they know best), or the ego falls so low the writer can’t possibly believe they will get published.
Set aside the ego for a moment and consider your goals. Trust me when I say that plenty of books get published for various reasons. Sometimes its a compelling plot, excellent writing, or interesting characters, or only one of the three, or something else entirely. It depends on the demand and judgment of the agent.
If you’re not good enough- work on it. Take the time to improve your writing by learning the craft. Take a class, read some books on how to improve writing, or practice, practice, and more practice.
If you find that you’re not taking the advice and criticism of others, re-assess your work against their opinion- they are, after all, a reader just like any reader who will pick up your book. If this person says you’re characters are flat, the style boring, and there’s errors, other readers will likely think the same thing.
Find your own story within the story to face your own conflicts to find the resolution to your own story.