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Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Guest Column October 9, As a romance acquisitions editor, I find that one of the biggest problems writers struggle with is creating a believable conflict, or series of conflicts, that will sustain the novel its entire length.
In romance, everyone already knows how the book is going to end happily ever afterso there is no tension over the outcome; the tension and the page turning must come from some other source.
At least some part of the conflict must be between the hero and the heroine. No romance reader wants to read about how the plucky heroine met the strong, sexy hero and they realized they were right for each other and everything was awesome once they got rid of those pesky cattle rustlers.
That might make an interesting story, but it is not a romance. A romance must have something a conflict! Use these three key questions to achieve just that.
She has the internal goal, perhaps never explicitly stated, but certainly implied, of finding a way to feel safe and loved again. Suppose she learns that the old general store on Main Street has finally come up for sale, and she realizes that she can buy it to start a quilt shop.
She can already imagine her cozy future, surrounded by things her grandmother once loved so deeply.
The quilt shop becomes the external goal that can help her reach her internal goal. She must have obstacles to reaching this goal. His internal goal is to feel connected, and the one time he felt that way was when his dad, who died very young, used to build model ships with him.
With this rich backstory, he already has lots of internal conflict beneath the surface when his internal goal of feeling connected becomes an external goal of wanting to start a hobby shop—and brings him into direct conflict with Greta.
The pair vies for the property. Each is emotionally invested in his or her external goal because it is a reflection of his or her internal goal. Each step of the way, being thwarted causes them both not just mere frustration, but real emotional pain.
That is the key to conflict in romance: It must have a deep emotional source, even when the story is lighthearted. As the author, you need to recognize from the start that for Hank and Greta to resolve the conflict between them their external conflict they must each resolve that internal conflict first.
Hank must learn to trust again in order to feel connectedness, and perhaps he realizes that despite their conflict, Greta has never lied to him or let him down, and so he learns to trust her. When they fall in love and realize they can both get what they want, they open the Main Street Hobby and Quilt Shop.
A believable conflict and a satisfying resolution.
This has to matter. Make the consequence big. Your hero will lose his job or your heroine, her freedom. However, she does if the bet is the external manifestation of something hugely important to the character—for example, proving that she is not a failure.
In romance, when you have two main characters trying to reach their goals, their competing goals must be of similar importance. Make sure your reader cares about both of them succeeding. Your characters should be working toward something important and meaningful—saving the ranch, winning the election, bringing the bad guys to justice.
Suppose you have a story where the Greek shipping magnate spearheads a hostile takeover of the financially imperiled business that the spunky heroine is trying to save. Her goal—saving the business—is meaningful and we can sympathize with it. But what about his?What’s the Best Dating Site for You?
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