I've been giving a great deal of thought to the internal/external conflicts of my (new) characters.
OK,, this isn't "my" list--it's from this site and I don't believe I've seen this written in simpler terms. Well, since junior high, that is.
1. Conflict exists on two levels: internal and external.
2. Internal conflict is the battle between what the character wants to do and what the character must do.
a. Human nature wants to avoid difficult or unpleasant situations.
b. Conflict forces character to choose between the easy road and the hard road to achieve a goal.
c. Motivation determines what character will gain or lose by making the choice.
d. Characters must have a strong reason to stay in a situation they would rather avoid.
e. If they aren't in a situation they want to avoid, there is no conflict, and no story.
3. External conflict is the external problem that is standing in the way of the the character and his or her goals. The problem can be a natural disaster, loss of a job, death of a loved one, etc.
a. It must be a conflict the character can't resolve, can only deal with.
b. Goals must be so strong they cannot be abandoned in the face of this situation.
c. The external conflict can also be a collision of the hero and heroine's goals.
The Building Blocks of a Strong Plot by Pat Collinge
I need to play around with this as far as Dogfather is concerned before I write another word of the first draft. Conficts, motivations, choices...right now I can think of these only in the most abstract sense. Angelo's not very smart; in fact he may be officially retarded (apologizes to those of you who dislike that word, but it's a word that'll be used t/o the story). I'm playing around it now and no, it's not "Flowers for Algernon"-- he won't turn "brilliant" halfway through --and I swear im nt riting it lik thiz 2 mek it moor reyalistick.
For now I'm simply in Angelo's head, listening to his thoughts and occasionally writing them down. Writing in his voice is proving to be just as difficult as I'd anticipated..