Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Conflict July 11, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hmm. I know I’m supposed to be editing, but I’m thinking about my new story idea today, the one for the Presents/ Modern Heat competition.

My opening is possibly a little too coincidental, too cute a meet, but my real concern is the conflict. I thought I had it nailed, but I’ve just realised the conflict I have in my plot outline so far is much too externally based. The heroine has her emotional issues, which are hooked into nicely by the external conflict, but I have no idea at all about the hero’s conflict. It’s all too “women’s fiction” so far to work as a series romance, focusing on the heroine and her emotional changes.

 A bit of a flaw given that Presents is mainly the hero’s journey, and Modern Heat is probably both characters journey to overcoming their relationship blocks.

This is the exact same problem I had with my last story!

I did just find this excellent discussion on conflict on the eHarlequin writers’ forum (you may need to log in to the Forums to see it). The thing I’m really taking away from it is that there must be layers to the conflict. The easy, superficial answer just is not enough. There’s another layer under that and maybe another layer under that again until we get to why whatever the conflict is over is really so important to the character. And the conflicts need to link together. The heroine must challenge the hero’s defence mechanisms and coping strategies for dealing with his issues, and he must do the same to the heroine. They really do need to be the worst possible person for the other to fall in love with, and not just for obvious external reasons like they are business rivals.

Hooboy! I need to do some serious thinking on this before I write myself in too far.


Edited to add- I just tracked down another  discussion on conflict on eHarl I read a while back. I need to reread this now. I remember learning a lot from it at the time. I love Ellen Hartmann’s idea of coming up with ten reasons “why?”, so we don’t go with easy but cliched internal conflicts. Like the hero is commitment phobic because his Mom left his as a kid and his first girlfriend dumped him. (Luk’s weak motivation for being a work hard, play hard/ love ’em and leave ’em type. I must do better next time!)


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