I looked through my old files recently to see if there were any stories worth resurrecting and found eleven (count 'em--eleven!) that I had started but didn't finish. They all had something in common: I stopped working on them because I couldn't come up with a good external conflict, and decided that I needed to do more research before I could finish them.
You see, I hate conflict. I've spent my entire life avoiding it as much as possible. I mean, really, actively avoiding it. That makes it hard for me to write it--I don't even want to face it in my fiction.
Now, internal conflict, I have no problem with--my characters have plenty of that. But as far as I've seen, very few books sell on the sole basis of internal conflict. It's important, sure, but they still have to do something. Something has to happen, darn it. They need jobs, lives, external conflicts. Sadly, that always throws me. That's when I say, "Oh, well, I need to do some more research on this" and move on to the next exciting character.
As in real life, I avoid conflict like the plague. My stories may be rich in character, but they're painfully poor in plot.
Does anyone else have this problem? Is it just me? Makes me feel like I shouldn't even attempt to write. The most common advice I see when there's a plot stall is to kill a character, but obviously those people are missing my point. I like these characters--I don't want them to suffer. I don't want them to run for their lives and have to save the world with only a stick of gum and a shoelace. (Especially since I don't know why they have to run for their lives and whom they're running from--I'd have to do a little research on that and get back to it.)
Unfortunately, the market for character driven, introspective "quiet stories" is as thin as my plots. What's a cowardly gal to do?