Is Eavesdropping Good Conflict?
Everyone knows that eavesdropping is bad manners–no matter how juicy the gossip. But what if characters overhear something important, and just can’t help it? After all, the story could find them indisposed, perhaps taking a coffee break, enjoying a well-deserved rest under a shady tree or, in the case of action-packed stories, recovering from a particularly bruising encounter with a mighty adversary. Can what they hear while sitting on the story’s sidelines become good fodder for escalating stakes?
Week Five of How to Revise Your Novel takes a long hard look at the conflicts characters face in the course of their adventures, and one member of the class finds herself with a tough revision dilemma. Her character, combating grogginess resulting from an outburst of magic, overhears a contentious debate concerning her care. Does her character’s eavesdropping represent enough of a conflict to justify keeping the scene? Is there a stronger way to present the important information brought forth in this overheard conversation?
Members of the How To Revise Your Novel course can log in and join this conversation to discuss whether eavesdropping is good storytelling, and to toss around ideas for other ways to give readers the scoop.