Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the Writing Scene: Conquering the Inner Demon

We all have an inner demon, that one area of our life or tragic event of our past that we struggle to overcome. This inner demon doesn’t have to be something terrible; it can be something as simple as pride or a tendency toward selfishness. For many of us, it’s more than one thing. Some people wear their inner demons for all to see, or talk about them ad nauseaum. On the flip side, there are those who are reticent to speak of their struggles or who hide them well. 

In our stories, inner turmoil is an essential element to creating a realistic hero or heroine. As writers, we go to great lengths to develop outside obstacles for our characters to overcome, often forgetting to make the hero/heroine real to our reader. A reader will connect with a character whose inner conflict they can relate to. 

Before you set pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, know your Most Likely Reader (MLR) and target the problem most common to their age group. With my MLR being mothers whose children are grown and gone, the heroine in Murder on the Ol’ Bunions is experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome, she just doesn’t know it yet. Having invited all of her children “home” for Easter dinner, LaTisha Barnhart finds herself sinking lower and lower emotionally as, one by one, her children call to cancel, albeit with valid excuses. LaTisha has a hard time grasping the fact that her children have their own lives, which doesn’t include her. Of course, being a cozy mystery, LaTisha also has a murder to solve. 

Solving the death of her former employer Marion Peters helps distract LaTisha from her quickly dwindling dinner guest list. This distraction also adds a dimension of realism to the character—how often do we experience the need to cork our emotional turmoil (inner turmoil) in order to deal with outside problems? 

Take characterization to new heights by making sure your hero/heroine has a solid inner conflict. This conflict can work to strengthen (or in the case of a villain, to weaken) throughout the story. Make sure it is a characteristic common to your MLR, or one your MLR will understand and identify with, then weave it into your story, or even put the inner conflict at odds with other characters. The best stories often use this tool (one character’s weakness is another character’s strength) to improve the conflict or tension in their novel.

Murder on the Ol' Bunions is book one in the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series. Polly Dent Loses Grip and Your Goose is Cooked are books 2 and 3, respectively. Available through Smashwords for all platforms, or on Amazon for Kindle. For more information about S. Dionne Moore's books, visit her at

S. Dionne Moore started writing in 2006. Her first book, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions has just been released in Ebook format and her tenth book, A Heartbeat Away, releases as part of the Abingdon Quilts of Love series in May 2013. She is a two time Carol Award finalist for Polly Dent Loses Grip and Promise of Tomorrow, and was voted a 2010 Favorite New Author by Barbour Publishing.


  1. Awesome post, Sandy. So many of us have ENS (empty nest syndrome), actually, anyone with children get it eventually! I like the way you incorporate realism into your books. Great tip, my friend!

    ~Nancy Jill

  2. LOL! Thanks, Jill. From one soon-to-be empty nester to another. . .

  3. Hi Sandy,
    As a writer of cozy mysteries I needed to hear this - to be reminded of what can connect our characters to our readers on an emotional level. I was just talking to Ane Mulligan about this very thing today. Great post I'm going to print it off and save it!
    Deborah Malone
    Death in Dahlonega

  4. I guess it unravels part of they mystery of why a writer needs to know their MLR. The other part of the mystery is the knowledge helps in marketing the book. Thanks, Deborah and Nancy. It's a pleasure to be here. Just hope I can add something unique to the mix of greatness posted daily!

  5. My what good information you all have! Writing is one thing, marketing is another, and we writers need to know about both. Thank you for sharing.