22 March 2013

Betrayal and conflict

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend." (William Blake)

Betrayal can create the strongest conflict in any type of story. It fuels a wide range of emotion from anger to depression. It can take an otherwise average character and turn them into a vengeful hero, heroine or villain.

There are a lot of great examples of betrayal and its aftermath in one of my favorite television shows: Once Upon a Time. From a young Snow White's innocent betrayal of a secret, to Rumpelstiltskin's manipulation of, well, everyone, to get what he wants... the show is ripe with examples of betrayal and conflict.

In a television series, it's a bit easier to deal with conflict because as a writer you have plenty of time and room to play out a storyline without it feeling forced or rushed. In a novel, however, it isn't quite as easy. Your space, as it were, is more limited. If the betrayal is too unforgivable, but you need the character to forgive, as a writer you have to craft the story very carefully.

I've written characters that have betrayed one another or seemed to (Jason and Sabrina in SECRETS AND SHADOWS). I have characters that betrayed themselves through addiction (Ian in DREAM WALK) and other bad choices. Then there are characters motivated to become heroes by a betrayal of some sort (Camille in DREAM WALK).

Finding that balance between the desire for justice and the need to forgive -- it's a conflict as old as time. What act or action is just too unforgivable? It depends a lot on your characters, the story itself, and how you handle it. Telling a secret is more forgivable than, say, infidelity, which is likely the most difficult conflict in any romantic relationship, be it fiction or reality.

Now I need to get back to my work in progress (wip), and another betrayal of sorts: withholding the truth. Telling the one you love a lie is a big no-no in the romance world. It creates mistrust and can destroy a relationship unless, at some point, the one lied to is willing to forgive. Will she? Won't she? I'm not telling... but just remember I do write romance, and there's always a happy ending.

~~Meg Allison
 Sultry romance cloaked in suspense...
Sweeter stories laced with laughter.
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