The weather channel says that much of the US is in a pressure cooker with the latest heat wave. I’m melting as I type this on my smartphone at the side of the pool, and I think they might be onto something.

The heat is making a lot of people miserable, and it’s driving my sinuses nuts, but there’s one good place to have great like this-between your characters.

Most of us naturally avoid conflict. In stories, however, that’s the last thing you’re allowed to do.

But as any writing coach will tell you, conflict is not arguing. Conflict doesn’t come from “po-tay-to, po-tah-to.” It comes from forces in opposition to each other-the horse fly that wants to land on me, and my desire to remain unmolested. My skill with a shoe will determine that outcome.

You have to know not only what your characters want, but also what they really want. And it helps to know the stakes, but sometimes it’s actually better if you don’t know the stakes right away. Your characters and you can discover that together as part of the process.

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