Wednesday 7 July 2021

#WEP #WINNER's #GUESTPOST – Steph Wolmarans' Writing with Change in Mind

Hello everyone! Renée here! 

As you all know, the winner of the WEP Challenge gets the opportunity to write a guest post. Steph Wolmarans' story Storm of the Water Dragon moved its readers from hopelessness to hope. As our judge, Nick Wilford said: "Very imaginative and otherworldly. Impressive world-building in this short piece."

Today Steph has addressed Writing with Change in Mind. So take it away, Steph!

 Writing with Change in Mind

When I taught writing to elementary students I used to tell them no one would care about Cinderella if her father never died, or her stepsisters were really nice to her. People want to read about conflict, otherwise what is the point?


I also taught them to look for a change in the character from beginning to end when reading stories. Did the character want to change? What happened to their feelings?

I had plenty of time to think about these lessons while I worked on my manuscript this past year. I focused a lot on the story arc, character arc, and moral arc. Simply put, arcs occur because of change. The conflict causes a change or prevents it. Whichever occurs is generally the opposite of the main character’s original desire or goal.  

I feel like this is more relevant to readers today than ever before. It seems like everyone has “change” on the brain. Some fight for change, others fight to prevent it. Humans have accomplished so much by adapting to change, and preserved truly beautiful cultures by refusing to change. No matter which side of change we find ourselves on, we are generally very passionate about it.


I think because of the recent intensification of change, authors must also step up their game. Perhaps it is my personal preference, but I tend to relate better with characters in extreme situations. For this reason, I prefer speculative fiction. It provides a lens through which I can contemplate reality. The best authors create elaborate, but tidy worlds that allow readers to see the conflict with crystal clarity. The result is an emotional attachment to the characters caught in the arc of change.

I was recently stuck in a car dealer waiting room awaiting repairs. I worked on my manuscript to pass the time, but the other woman was glued to the HGTV episode. In the show, wealthy celebrities were “giving back” by fixing the yard at their friend's house. The writers for the show pulled her in by discussing all the hardships this “poor” woman had suffered with the loss of her mother and husband in the past year and her move to a smaller mansion. Each time they mentioned these hardships, the woman in the waiting room would utter a sound of sympathy. I could not help but think she was crazy for caring about this woman. Is that outdoor kitchen and luxury spa pool really going to make her life better? Obviously, the recent events in her life were tragic. If the same happened to me, I would be devastated. But I had a lot of trouble attaching to the story. They could build an entire subdivision of tiny homes for refugee families for what they spent on this woman’s backyard. Is it just me? My age or personality?  

For me, these writers failed to create a relatable story. Personally, the show would have been more enjoyable without the “story” part. It was reality TV, but it was a very narrow view of reality. That is why I like stories that push readers beyond reality. I think authors have a big challenge to keep up with the drastic changes in our world today. The next generation of readers may have trouble relating to the conflicts of yesterday. What do you think?


Steph Wolmarans is a speculative fiction author. Her short story,
The Utten Mission, was recently published in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology Dark Matter:  Artificial. Steph’s flash fiction, short stories, and novel updates can be found at


Thank you so much for your guest post, Steph. How about you, readers? Is conflict key in your writing?

We'd love for you to tweet this post or share it to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchalleng

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner Storm of the Water Dragon #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner Storm of the Water Dragon #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge


Our next challenge will be here before we know it! We hope many of you will consider joining us for our August challenge. Freedom of Speech! We'll post about it on August 1.

See you all there!