As I’m wrapping up the writing of the fourth Hidden book, Strife, and putting some serious work into outlining book five (which will be the last book in the series) I’m thinking about conflict and how it fits into Molly’s story.
There is no shortage of fighting. Molly has plenty of people who want to cause trouble for her. External conflict has never been a problem; really, one of the challenges I’ve had has been in not just making the series one big fight after another.
I’ve seen a comment or two about Molly being too powerful, that there is no one who can really stand against her and she needs a major big bad to be her nemesis. It’s kind of the Superman thing. If he’s the most powerful being around, then where’s the real danger? Where’s the excitement?
For me, reading any comic book or novel in which the main character is the biggest, baddest thing around, the conflict that matters most, the one that gets my blood pumping, is not watching the hero beat up on people. It’s watching how they deal with the fact that what they are endangers those they care about. Everyone who matters to Superman or Spider-Man or whoever is in almost constant danger, just by being part of a superhero’s life.
Even more interesting to me is watching the hero struggle with what they are. How far can they take their powers before they cross some line that never should have been crossed? Where does good become evil, and what does it do to your mind, your personality, to be the baddest one in the room all the time?
At what point do you lose touch with humanity? What keeps a hero like that on the straight and narrow, fighting for the good guys, rather than using all of that power for their own gain?
That’s the stuff that interests me. I’m not going to lie; writing a hero like Molly is challenging, because she herself is very rarely in actual physical danger. She gets beat up and pops up again to fight another day. Her concerns are bigger than herself. She has friends, lovers. An entire city she feels responsible for. And each and every person involved with her is in danger, simply because of what she is.
Add to that that Molly has never felt comfortable trusting people and letting them into her life. Add the fact that she constantly doubts herself, that she can feel that sibilant, provocative whisper all too often telling her she can do whatever she wants, because who’s going to stop her?
Her conflict is not with one big bad. It is with those who would harm the people she loves. It is with the constant battle to keep herself sane and under control. It is with the ever-present temptation to cross that line, and once she crosses it, there will be no going back.
The toughest enemy many of us have to fight is the enemy within. It’s that voice inside that tells us we can’t, or that we’re not smart enough, not worthwhile. It’s the way we talk ourselves out of things, simply because we don’t believe we’re capable of doing more, doing better. Molly’s no different from any of us in that way. She just has a lot more power to deal with, which means even higher stakes. When people say that she “feels real” as several reviewers have, I believe this is why.
Internal conflict: something we can all relate to! 🙂
All right. Back to work on book four. Have a great week all!