Rising Tension: Roy and James Play Cards


The purpose of today’s excerpt from “A New Kingdom” is to reinforce some of the concepts discussed in my last two posts, building stakes and increasing tension. If you don’t have any idea what either of these terms mean, I suggests you click those links^ and check them out.

I’ve highlighted any lines that are specifically designed to increase tension, establish the stakes, or foreshadow problems to come. This scene is about Fitz and the threat he poses. He is the antagonist of the underground scenes. Enjoy.

* * *

        “What about Fitz? He’s not going to want us back there.

Let me worry about Fitz,” said Roy.

The pair got up and made their way down the corridor. The yellow lights helped make daytime feel almost authentic. Many families sat in the hallway, exchanging their horror stories from the night of the invasion. The cute blonde girl with the yellow rubber boots sat alone, and for a moment James thought about introducing himself, maybe even inviting her to play cards. He wondered if she were dealing with the loss of her parents as well.

Placed at the end of the hallway was a cardboard box, labeled “ELECTION.” When they finally reached it, James peered inside and saw it was filled with napkins – write-in votes for the new underground ruler.

“I don’t get why we are having this damn election today, you know? We’re done if Fitz wins – might as well as be underground slaves from here on out. And why are we voting for a ruler? Shouldn’t we vote for a leader? Somebody oughtta speak up about this stuff,” said Roy.

They entered the backroom that Fitz had strictly reserved for underground council meetings.

Roy dealt James a couple of cards, who turned them around to see a queen and a seven.

“Why don’t you speak up?”

Roy checked on his own hand, “Wouldn’t do no good. None a’them are gonna listen to me, kid. Most adults don’t like me.”

With a quick hand, Roy flipped over three cards on the table. There was an eight, a nine, and a six, giving James an open-ended straight draw. Roy bet and James called.

“Maybe you should try to make them like you? You never know unless you try.”

Roy laughed, “There’s some people I prefer to dislike me. If a guy like Fitz liked me, I don’t think I’d like myself.”

A fourth card was flipped on the table, and a ten was turned over. James had a straight. Roy bet and James re-raised all in. Roy put his hands behind his head, sat back in his chair, and looked as though he were thinking his move over.

“I’m sure you got a seven, which gives you a straight. The damned thing is, I flopped one too, ‘cause I got a five-seven. So I gotta call, but I’m gonna be pretty damn upset if that last card gives you a better hand.”

Roy pushed all of his chips into the center, and both of them were all-in. He flipped over the final card, a jack of clubs. James revealed his hand, and Roy tossed the entire deck into the air.

“C’mon kid, how could you do that to me?”

James didn’t see it at first, but when he studied his hand further, he realized why Roy was upset – The last card gave James a higher straight, Queen-Jack-10-9-8. He got lucky. Roy’s frustration died down, as he chuckled at his bad-beat and picked up the scattered cards.

“You see, in this game, all the brains in the world won’t guarantee success. The skilled professional can lose to the young novice, any day of the week-

The office door flew open, and Colonel Fitz’s entered in.

“Pick up your things and leave. This isn’t a game room – it’s for official government meetings only.”

Roy shuffled the cards and dealt out a new hand. “With all due respect, sergeant anus, there are only four rooms in this place. If there were more, I’d understand. But we may be down here for a very long time, so I’d ‘ppreciate it if you eased up a little bit.”

James pretended not to notice the escalating tension between the two grown men as he picked up the cards.

Fitz marched over to Roy until he stood over him. “It’s Colonel Fitz, low-life. And I will not stand for any under-age gambling. This meeting room is for grown-ups only. That means both of you need to leave.”

Fitz used his arms to pile up all the poker chips into the center of the table, erasing the winnings for both opponents. Roy stood up and put his face to Fitz’s. “Look, Colonel Dick head, when you and your friends finally come here to play ‘pretend government,’ when you make huge decisions like ‘who showers when?’ Then we’ll get out of here. But until then, I’m gonna enjoy life the little bit that I can, and me and my buddy James are gonna play cards right here, whenever we want,” He said, then pounded his fist against the glossy marble.

The colonel took a step back. “Today, go ahead, play your silly game. But I got news for you.” Fitz pressed his finger into Roy’s chest. “I am a military man, Roy, and you don’t wanna start a war with a military man. When I win that election, you’re going to change your attitude.

Fitz left the room. Roy grabbed the deck of cards and returned to dealing them like nothing had even happened. After a couple minutes, James finally broke the silence.

“I think you might be right about some people not liking you.”

Roy shook his head. “If Fitz wins that election, ain’t nobody down here is ever gonna see the surface again. That man is power hungry, James, and hungry people don’t like sharing their food.”

* * *

–  Thomas M. Watt

Author of “A New Kingdom”

James meets Penny Part 1 – Building the Stakes


The quest of your protagonist will matter more to your readers when the repercussions of failing at that goal will have known devastating internal or external consequences.

In the following scene, James puts Penny on such a high pedestal that his initial encounter with her will have a drastic effect on his psychological well-being. All of this build-up is being done to create greater tension and conflict later on, which you will see in the second half of the chapter when it is posted tomorrow.

Every piece of dialogue or description that is designed to increase the stakes (the importance of James’ 1st conversation with Penny) is in bold typeface. The following is an excerpt from my novel “A New Kingdom.”

* * *

CHAPTER 12    

TSSH TSSH TST. The clamor from pots and pans being whacked together rang throughout the room. James slowly wiggled out from his bed and peeled his crusty eyes open. The clashing metal meant that it was time to wake up and get some breakfast, at least for James’ group.

It’d been nearly ten months since the invasion. Life in the underground military base consisted of the same monotonous routine, day-after-day. But group breakfast was the moment James most looked forward to – that was because Penny’s group always followed his.

Penny was the name of the blonde girl who always wore the yellow rubber boots. He still hadn’t ever spoken to her, but a couple times she’d caught him staring at her. This day, though, James planned to ignore her completely. That way he could tell if she liked him back. If she did, he’d catch her staring at him. It was a foolproof plan.

James and his group made their way into the long hallway. Juan put the pots and pans down. James wished him a ‘buenos tardes’ and received a smile back.

“I hate this friggen hall,” Roy muttered. He never woke up in a good mood.

“Morning Roy,” Janie said, as she past him.

“Morning,” said Roy. When she was far enough away, he whispered to James, “What a smoke-show.”

“Good morning guys!” Said Bill, who was walking right behind them.

“Morning Bill! Uhh, Great day, huh?” Called back Roy.

“Sure is.” Said Bill with a chipper voice, before letting out the standard giggle that came at the end of his every sentence. He skip-jogged to catch up with his wife.

Janie, who was second chair in the Underground Council, led James and the gang through the plant room and into the food area. Roy refused to refer to it by that name, and insisted on calling it the, ‘Homeless Buffet.’ He called it that because the ‘Food area’ was no more than an aluminum trashcan. It was filled twice daily with palm-sized portions that were determined by the council. Conservation was a fundamental rule for survival, Fitz had declared. Even those who were whittling down to skin and bone, and spent their days with arms over their bellies, were not permitted to eat more than their allotted share.

Janie handed out a packet of instant oatmeal to each of the bedmates, as well as canned pineapples for them to share. On the clipboard hanging from the trashcan, she wrote down exactly what foods they ate and the size of their portions. To avoid mistakes, each person had to sign off. This process was required by every group, for every meal.

James waited anxiously for Roy to sign. Penny and her group would be coming down the hallway any minute.

“Canned pineapples again, huh? You really ought’a talk to Fitz about changing it up a little,” Roy said to Janie.

“I would, but every man I talk to around here looks at me like they want to bend me over and-”

Roy popped the can open and spilled juice onto his chest and stomach. He hurried over to the sink to let the excess liquid drain out.

“Are you alright, Roy?”

“Uh, yeah… How do men look at you?”

James poked his head outside. Penny’s group was coming down the hallway. He didn’t want her to spot him sitting by himself, though. Then she’d think he was a loser.

“Like they want to bend me over to their perspective on things.”

“Oh. Course.”

 “C’mon Roy, sign the sheet,” said James.

 “What’s your hurry, kid? Got a date?”

 “What? No. Why?”

Roy laughed as he dried his shirt off. “All right, all right.” He signed the sheet and walked along with James out into the hallway. They reached their typical spot and sat down. Roy and James always played Go Fish during breakfast.

“Hurry Roy, deal them out,” said James.

“Geeze, hold your horses, I will!”

James wanted to look like he was busy when Penny walked by, so that she wouldn’t know that he was ignoring her on purpose.

After Roy dealt the cards, he spotted Penny and her group coming up the hallway. Roy looked back at James with a troublesome grin.

“What?” whispered James.

Roy shook his head and continued to smirk.

James adjusted his sitting position to be more upright, and when he spoke he did so with a manlier voice than normal. She might have been close enough to hear. “C’mon, let’s play.”

“That’s it kid, I can’t watch you embarrass yourself any longer.” Roy tossed his cards, stood up, and walked toward the group. James looked away nervously, hoping to God that Roy wouldn’t do what James was absolutely certain he was about to do.

To be continued…

* * *

Hope this helps!

– Thomas M. Watt

Author of “A New Kingdom”

A Case of the Dirty Dick

red beard

“Stand the fuck up. Time to settle this like men.”

Alex curled up on the couch and sat up, clutching his stomach. He rubbed his weary eyes and lifted the blanket – there was a condom on his limp dick, and it looked dirty.

“I said get up!”

Alex took his first glance at the imposing figure staring down at him – he was shirtless with brutal tattoos, burly, and had that thick, curly red beard only farm boys could grow. A cute dog lie on the ground at his feet, whimpering like a dying pet.

“Huh? Who are you?” said Alex.

“Who am I? Cut the shit. Don’t act like you forgot what you did last night.”

Alex set his hands on his knees, stared at the ground, then burped. In truth, he had absolutely no idea what he did last night to set “farm-boy John” off. He gulped back some throw up, then turned to look up at the big man again.

“Listen dude, I have no idea what-”

BAM. Before he could get another word out, farm-boy John cold-cocked him. The massive fist sent Alex off the couch to a colliding crash through the coffee table. Alex spit a piece of tooth out, then groaned as he stared at the broken wood he now lay on top of. What the fuck did I do?

“Get up!” Farm-boy John lunged to kick Alex in the gut, but Alex rolled away before the toe of his boot could connect. Alex picked up a table leg then shot to his feet, then wobbled briefly before finding his balance.

“Look dude, sorry about your girl. But I swear she must’ve come to me.”

“Girl?” Farm-boy John crossed his arms and started to laugh. “You that dumb to think this has got to do with a girl?”

Alex took another good look at farm-boy John – pasty-white skin, red curly beard, tobacco shreds in his teeth, red curly beard, dirty, calloused hands, red curly beard.

“No, obviously not… I’m sorry for whatever I said to you last night.” “Said to me?! You didn’t say shit to me! This is our first time talking face-to-face you dumb shit!”

“What the fuck did I do then?” said Alex.

“Don’t act like you don’t know.”

“I don’t.”

“Maybe this will help you ‘member.”

Farm-boy John picked up a tall lamp, then began swinging it wildly at Alex. Alex dodged and weaved as he backpedaled. He bumped into the couch, the kitchen table, then some pots and pans. His back was against the wall as the metal clanged on the kitchen floor, and he finally realized what he’d done.

“Wait!” said Alex. Farm-boy John stopped swinging the lamp

. “I remember now,” said Alex, staring down at one of the pots that was filled with a red paste. “I dyed your beard red.”

Farm-boy John spat on the floor. “‘Bout time you remembered.” Alex let out a sigh of relief. “Aw, man! I was worried I did something you were gonna kill me over.” Farm-boy John chuckled for a moment, then in a flash turned deadly serious. “You didn’t die my beard red you dumb fuck. And what you did is the reason I’m gonna kill you.” Alex looked around and gulped. “What… what did I do?” “You see this house?” Alex looked around. “Yeah?” “Recognize it?” “No?” said Alex. “That’s cause you broke in, drank my booze, puked on my floor, then had sex with my bitch.” Farm-boy John broke off the base of the lamp, then aimed the sharp pointed end at Alex’s gut. Alex gulped. “I thought you said no girls were involved?” “You had sex with my dog you sick-fuck.” Farm-boy John thrust forward, again and again, until soon Alex’s stomach was entirely empty.

* * *

Ok I’m not proud of that one, but let’s point out some of the reasons this kept you reading.

1. Starts with and revolves around a question – What did Alex do that made this big stranger want to kill him? The question begins right there with the first line from farm-boy John – “Get up, time to settle this like men.” – Those are fighting words ladies and gentlemen, and when a fight is about to break out we all look over and wonder the exact same thing – what happened?

2. Rising tension – It starts with words, then a punch to the face, then a swinging lamp. In other words, Alex finds himself in more dire trouble as the story progresses. If it were written so that Farm-boy John began the scene holding a loaded gun, then set it back in its holster, tension would be decreasing, which is always a no-no for drama.

3. False ending – I’m new to this, but it’s an area of craft I need to get better at. You know them as twists – you expect one thing to happen, then another thing does. Alex having dyed Farm-boy John’s beard red makes logical sense, because a lot of attention is drawn to that nasty thing throughout the story. It would have been a suitable ending, but never settle for suitable – aim for surprise and gratification.

4. Sorry dog lovers and respectable human beings.

As always, thanks for reading!

– Thomas M. Watt

Conflict: Lesson 1 – Damien vs. Ronnie


Conflict is the most important element of storytelling. Failure to incorporate it guarantees that your works will flop. It is a subject worth going over again and again. There are more than a few types of conflict, but the common link of all forms is that they create adversity. Conflict worsens the predicament your protagonist is in, and she must grow stronger if she is to overcome it. Let’s start with an easy scene with no conflict, and watch how the scene improves as we amp up the adversity.

* * *

Level 1

Damien left the office building at five o’clock, because that’s when he got off work. Once outside, he kissed his wife on the cheek, just as he had a thousand times before.

Level 2 – Let’s add a ticking clock.

Somebody had left a time-bomb on the bottom floor. Nobody knew where it was, but word spread like wildfire – 5 O’clock it was gonna blow. Damien hurried out of the building, where his wife was already waiting for him.

“Damien, what’s-”

“I love you babe,” said Damien. He gave her a fat kiss on the cheek, and was thankful to be alive.

Level 3  – add a human antagonist (the antagonist can be a force of any kind, it doesn’t always have to be a bad guy with a mustache)

The elevator doors split open, and Damien found himself face-to-face with his greatest fear – Ronny McDee.

“Good to see you again, Damien. I noticed your wife was waiting for you outside. It’s too bad, she seemed so sweet.”

He didn’t have time for this – the bomb was set to go off at five. That gave him about three minutes to get past this lunatic clown.

“Shouldn’t you be flipping patties somewhere,” Damien said back to him. It wasn’t until then that the words sunk in – Ronny McDee had seen his wife outside. Had he done something to her?

“Hahaha!” Began Ronnie. “I moved on from that long ago.”

“To killing innocent civilians?”

“No, fries mostly.”

“Cut the shit,” said Damien. “What happened to my wife? If you did something to her I swear I’ll-”

“Relax!” said Ronnie. “I would never harm your wife. Gentleman’s agreement.”

“Oh. Well… I appreciate that.”

“It’s nothing. Now we should really get going and work out our differences elsewhere. I’d hate to still be here when my bomb goes off.”

“Good point,” said Damien. He jogged out the office building alongside Ronny, then found his wife waiting for him there.

“Hey, how are you?”

“I’m good. The chicken’s in the oven already so we should really get going.”

“Oh, alright,” said Damien, before turning to Ronny. “How bout I come by your place tomorrow and we settle this?”

“Sure, that’d be fine. Just look for the palace with the golden arches.”


* * *

I know that the last scene got a bit wacky, but that was partly because I wanted to illustrate a point. Do you notice how the moment Ronny and Damien began speaking on friendly terms it took dedication to keep on reading? When you diffuse conflict in the middle of a scene, you require your readers to continue on out of kindness, rather than desire. We all want to see conflict resolved – but once it is, the story, or an individual scene within the story, is over. That is what happens after the climax – the conflict is resolved. But up until then, you must maintain conflict at all times, and the best writers are able to effectively increase conflict heading into the climax, something known as ‘rising tension’.

Notice also how corny this scene is? You feel like you’ve seen/read it a hundred times, don’t you?

But you still felt compelled to keep reading it.

Don’t be so hard on authors who are commercially successful. If you want to be a best selling author, you’re going to have to accept the fact that constant arguments, time-bombs, evil villains, and dames in distress are all useful ingredients worth including in any story, no matter how much of a literary ‘genius’ you’ve already discovered yourself to be. Don’t ever become formulaic, that’s not what I’m saying – just pay more attention to best selling works, and figure out why they’re best sellers. Don’t fall in line with those who praise works of literature that will never appeal to a mass-market audience, unless you’ve decided that artistic expression is more important to you than big-time sales. Neither approach is wrong, but you should seriously think about the path you’d like to take, and write accordingly. Don’t complain about the failure of the masses to recognize true brilliance. It has more to do with them not caring, anyway – the masses flock to stories that entertain them, and that’s never going to change.

Let’s return to this scene later. If you have any suggestions to increase the conflict, feel free to include them in the comment section below. It’s always good practice to find new and exciting ways to amp up the tension in any given scene. If you want to steal this scene and make it your own, feel free to do so. I don’t care.

Hope this helps!

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script Analyst for SpecScout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom

STORYTELLING ESSENTIALS: How to Create Intriguing Characters

STORYTELLING ESSENTIALS: How to Create Intriguing Characters


A common divide among great writers is plot vs. character. Some authors are better at creating vivid, so-real-they’re-human figures, while others are better at taking us through winding, fascinating, perfectly-calculated plots.

Great character writers – John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Stephen King

Great plotters – Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, Suzanne Collins

The debate of whether character or plot is more integral in crafting a compelling story has gone on since the beginning of time. That is not what this post is about. This post is about what separates cardboard cut-outs from fascinating personalities. Let us begin with two short examples. See if you can figure out the major difference before I point it out.

* * *

Scene 1:

Brad put the seventy-pound dumbbells back on the rack. He sat down, let out a giant groan, then smeared the sweat from his forehead with his towel. He stared eye-to-eye with his own reflection, glaring so intense that any lesser man would have looked away. His stare didn’t waver until she caught his eye.

She was blond, blue eyed, and kept her blond hair in a pony tail. Her outfit was hot pink, as were her lips. She caught him staring, then let out a short chuckle.Brad returned his gaze to his own reflection. He didn’t smile from her laugh – he never smiled. He was there to workout. And if some new beef wanted to flirt, then so be it. For now it was time for another set.

Brad picked the seventy-pounders back up and got back to work.

Scene 2:

Angela cut-short her chuckle. She’d caught the rough-and-tough guy staring at her and laughed. Maybe that was a mistake… just another, stupid mistake.

She shook her head, then walked behind him and over to the rack. She picked up the five pound weights and returned to her bench. He didn’t even notice her – didn’t even care. Was it her laugh?

She’d assumed he had been looking at her because she looked pretty good in her new, hot-pink get-up. Maybe he was staring because she looked stupid.

“Shut-up,” she mumbled to herself, then begin her triceps exercises.

Her friends suggested she wear this stupid thing, not her. This wasn’t her. Angela preferred sweat pants and a jacket when she went to the gym. This wasn’t her – God she felt stupid.

Angela quit halfway through her set. She moved to the front of her bench and stared at herself in the mirror. Who was she fooling? She wasn’t the flirty blond girl she felt pressured to be. She was the ice-cream-devouring, wannabe-mom who texted stupid sweet smiles to boys who didn’t even care about her.

Angela shook her head, then rushed over to return her weights. Her head was down when she bumped into somebody – oh great, it was the rough and tough guy who thought she looked stupid.

“Hey girl-”

“Get out of my way,” she said back.

She hurried around him, put back her weights, then stormed out of the gym. Time for some Ben and Jerry’s.

* * *

Spot the difference? If not, that’s okay.

But I bet you found Angela much more intriguing than Brad. You might be willing to follow her around for a while, stick with her as she tries to build-up her self esteem. One major difference between Brad and Angela is that Brad is a cock, whereas Angela is a sweet girl who we’d like to see believe in herself a little more. Depreciating persons are more likable even in real life, and in works of fiction they are easier to empathize with. Keep this is mind when you draw up your protagonist.

Yet still, this is not the major separation between these two characters.Brad is a meat head. Short and simple. What we know of him so far is entirely predictable – I’m sure he works out, hits the bar scene, gets laid, does it again. He’s that dickhead who greets cashiers with a stern expression no matter how brightly they smile at him and ask, “How are you doing today?”

These qualities themselves are by no means boring qualities – in all likelihood, Brad’s life of lifting weights and finding ‘beef’ is probably quite interesting. So why don’t we care to follow him around for a full length novel? Let’s examine Angela, and why we’re intrigued by her, to find our answer.

What did you think of Angela before you got to know her? I’m sure if you’re a girl it was something along the lines of, “Oh, there’s that stupid ditsy blond girl who every guy likes even though she’s a stupid idiot.” Or, if you’re a guy, it was probably something like, “Oh, there’s that dumb girl who’ll play you the second you treat her nice.” Up until her own scene, Angela was cardboard – she appeared to be just as stereotypical as Brad, and we assumed she would think accordingly.

But she didn’t.

Much rather, Angela was uncomfortable wearing her ‘stupid pink outfit’. She didn’t like the way she laughed, she didn’t even like the way she looked. Angela was so convinced she was unattractive that she ran away from Brad before he had a chance to hit on her. Even more intriguing, she doesn’t really care about having a lot of eyes on her.

She wants one boyfriend, she wants to get married, she wants to have kids. But she doesn’t know how to go about doing any of those things, so she took up the suggestion from her friends to make herself more presentable. The funny part is, she is getting more attention from a guy – but her real issue isn’t presentation, it’s her self-esteem, which still hasn’t been resolved (And that’s probably what her inner conflict would be throughout a novel in which she is the protagonist).

One more spin before I tell you exactly what the major difference is between these two, if you haven’t figured it out already -Imagine Angela never wore that hot-pink outfit. Imagine she showed up in a pair of dirty sweatpants and a jacket. Imagine she sat down without ever smiling at Brad, and from Brad’s perspective she seemed depressed. The more we got to know her, the more we came to realize that this girl is the same self-loathing person we anticipated she’d be.

She wouldn’t have been as captivating, would she have been?

The number one way to create compelling characters is this – Give them contradictions. Show us elements of their personality that surprise us. Have them take actions that are out of the ordinary, that even you, their writer, didn’t expect them to take. Strange personality quirks create dynamic characters, and unexpected courses of action create memorable experiences.

Adding this depth to your protagonist will leave your readers with an intense desire to better understand them. Always remember, questions compel us to seek answers.

If you can get your readers to ask questions about your story on their own terms (such as, why doesn’t Angela believe in herself, and will she land the man of her dreams?), than you are going to give them a reason keep reading.

Hope this helps!

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script Analyst for Specscout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom


Inciting Incident

Story Telling Essentials: Inciting Incident

The inciting incident – This is the event that propels your story forward. It is the reason your protagonist changes, the reason they take up their quest.

So what is it?

The inciting incident is an event that fundamentally changes your protagonist’s wants and needs. It can be a sudden, unexpected kiss. It can be the loss of a parent. Maybe your protagonist was robbed, maybe your protagonist got dumped. Whatever the inciting incident is, it will always leave your protagonist different than she was before. It provides the motivation for her first plot point decision, which will be the decision to take up her quest.

While the first plot point of a story is the protagonist’s decision to take up their quest, the inciting incident is typically an event that occurs to the protagonist. In “A New Kingdom”, my latest novel, James watches his father get brutally murdered at the hands of giant red aliens. This provides his motivation to overthrow the alien race, the first plot point decision that he makes later on.

You want your inciting incident to occur as early as possible. Some argue that it is imperative to show your real world beforehand, so that the reader can better notice the change. Others prefer the inciting incident to occur right away, claiming that readers prefer action over back story. Where you place the inciting incident is up to you – whether you include it is non-debatable.

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script Analyst for SpecScout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom

Story Essentials: Internal and External Conflict

STORY ESSENTIALS: Internal and External Conflict

What keeps the viewer interested in a t.v. program? What keeps a reader reading? What is the most basic element of story?

At its most basic level, a story is about a protagonist who is after something, and the obstacles she must overcome in order to attain it.

The obstacles your protagonist faces present the conflict that keeps readers interested. Conflicts are either internal or external.

External conflicts are physical elements that keep the protagonist from attaining the object of their desire. They can be the distance needed to travel, the antagonist who fights against them, or even the giant box blocking the entrance to that room they desperately need to pass through. These obstacles exist outside of the mind of the protagonist.

Internal conflicts, on the other hand, are the mental blocks your protagonist must overcome within themselves to attain the object of their desire. This can be a fear of heights, short-temper, or fear of success. Your protagonist must learn to overcome these mental and emotional roadblocks throughout the course of your story. Done correctly, this will create an effective character arc and lead to an emotionally fulfilling climax. Ideally, the protagonist demonstrates they have finally overcome their internal conflict at the precise moment they finally attain the object of their desire.

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script analyst for SpecScout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom

The Walk of the Unpublished Writer

Walking down the street, the man snapped his fingers as he sang to himself en route to the coffee shop, where he would work on his novel for the next four hours.

“Get those words out on that paper,

Get those rhymes said now or later.

Get the work together fast,

Make it sharp, make that shit last.

Don’t fuck around with much discretion,

Don’t be afraid to change direction.

Get it goin’, from the heart, write them words boy like they taught.

See yourself in that paper, see your story now then later.

Don’t get fearful, don’t be afraid, don’t regret the choices made.

This is it boy, let it be, this is the shit that needs to breath.

Don’t give up now, don’t give up last, don’t put that pen down on that desk.

Keep it writing, let it flow, get those fuckin’ words down bro!

Don’t be lazy, don’t get tired, don’t forget you’ve entered fire.

Don’t be hasty, don’t be crude, make that mix perfection’s brew.

Get to typing, get to printing, get those fuckin’ heads a’spinning.

Don’t be wasting, precious time, you’ll only waste both yours and mine.

Let gets it goin’, get shit done, write those fuckin’ words down son!

Get that shit down on that paper,

Let’s publish this then rhyme more later.

– Thomas M. Watt

Let the words Rhyme

Let the words dribble and fizzle and squat,

Let them bow down to your pen’s fresh ink blot,

Let the words rhyme as they blow off your touch,

Let the story sink then release from your clutch.

Let the words do what reality screams,

Let the rhymes play as you tap both your feet.

Let the verbs act and let the nouns be,

A person, a place, a noun is a thing.

Let the world peek at the work which you’ve done,

Let all the poets enjoy reading for fun.

Let the words play with themselves for a bit,

Let the rhyme go and you never can quit.

Get them all out on the paper for you,

Let them all mix like the brew’s supposed to.

Savor the flavor and crinkle what rots,

Set the words down and then see what they’ve brought.

Take a good look at the rhymes for a few,

Then go to edit then write something new.

Nothing’s too tough when you understand things,

Nothing compares to the beauty art brings.

Say it alive and then say it forever,

Every time you write you learn to do better.

– Thomas M. Watt