Roadblocks and Pitfalls

What are roadblocks? What are the various ways we as writers put stumbling blocks in the paths of our characters?

Blocks come in every shape and size, physical, mental, emotional, and for some genres – supernatural or metaphysical. Road blocks can be combined and in some stories, they seem to multiply like bunnies. In my latest story, Kay, the main character, experience roadblocks because she’s the wrong subspecies, the wrong pay grade, the wrong experience level for the assignments she’s given, and the wrong attitude for the whole mess. Still, she finds a way, sometimes in spite of herself.

Let’s take a better known example. The Once Upon a Time television show includes a character called Regina Mills. She has complete power over the town she lives in, and when magic returns to that town, she’s even stronger. You wouldn’t think power like that could be a roadblock but for her, it is. How does someone with that much going for her learn to leave it behind, for the sake of her son? The show has a strong theme of power and sacrifices made or not made for children (who are also roadblocks for multiple characters.

Roadblocks can change as well, morphing with the character changes. Some of the best stories do this to great effect. Keep that in mind the next time you sit down to read or to write. What’s between the main character and what she wants? Is it constant through the story or does it change? Does the story mirror this struggle with another character to show multiple views of the same conflict?



  1. It definitely is a good way to overcome writer’s block by putting more roadblocks in our poor characters way. It’s probably a sign that there aren’t enough blocks in the way if you can’t think of anything to write…Good reminder!

  2. Thank you Sandra. I’m outlining a new novel to do for the April Camp NaNo and one of the main things I already see wrong is the conflict in the story. It’s too weak. Thanks for the reminder of how roadblocks work within the story to make it better.

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