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Short Story Writing Tips - Are Problems Escalating In Your Story?
by: Nick Vernon
In order to see the character struggling weíll have to introduce problems. These, your character will solve as they occur and these are going to be problems associated with your conflict.

Each of these problems will vary in intensity - some will be easier to solve than others. Some will be less important Ė but still preventing him from reaching his goal. Others will be enormous. We vary them in intensity for a bit of variety. We donít want our stories to be dull, do we?

Letís see an example of problems escalating in a storyÖ

Basic plot: Your character has been unemployed for a while and finally receives a job offer.

Letís give this story a time limit so it can become more intense.

The character has a week to decide whether heís going to accept the job or not.

Characterís goal: To find a job which suits him

Conflict: The character is contemplating whether to accept the job because it will require him to be away from home a lot (being that the job is miles away from where he lives) and away from his children where he is a sole parent.

The conflict arose: Because although the character is pleased about finally been accepted for employment, this particular job doesnít suit him.

What is character going to do to make his goal a reality?

We can show how he desperately tries to fit in as many job interviews, hoping that something closer to home will come up before he has to make a decision about the original job offer.

Here is where weíll throw obstacles in his way so his goal will seem unreachable. We can introduce a variety of problems such asÖ

1. He receives a letter from the company who accepted him for work outlining their generous salary structure (this will make him think. But because heís serious about finding a job closer to home, this little problem will solve itself.)

2. Heís on his way to another job interview when his car breaks down. (He borrows a neighborís car and solves the problem.)

3. One of his kids comes down chicken pox. (He asks the same neighbor for help but is informed that she hasnít had the illness herself and canít baby-sit. This problem will take a while to solve because itís a more serious problem than the previous. He nurses the child for a few days then solves the problem by leaving one of his older kids in charge.)

4. He ring up for another job and they ask to interview him the next morning. Another problem arises. During the night, the rest of his kids catch the chicken pox and he misses out on this interview also. (How is he going to solve this problem? He nurses the children.)

Whatís going to happen now? Iíve introduced as many problems as this story will take. Now I have reached my climax where I have to resolve the conflict. Will he take the original offer? At this stage I donít bring in more problems. I concentrate solely on the conflict because all the problems have been building up to this.

Are problems escalating in your story?

About the author:
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers funny stories. Visit

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