Know your conflict

This should be fairly obvious, but I overlooked it in most of those thirty-page false starts. Conflict is the engine that drives any novel, and if you try to write one without first making sure you have an engine, you're not going to get far. Write out your conflict. (Or conflicts.) And don't go for the big generalities. "Gerri versus men," is a conflict, all right, but when you're stuck on chapter five and you look at your notes for something that will help you get back on track, something along the lines of "Gerri's hatred of her father drives her to take up with dependent men that she can then abandon, and the man she has now abandoned intends to kill her" might actually aim you in the right direction again.

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