I think the main thing for me is getting the internal conflicts to really be an integral part of who this person is- they can’t stay in a relationship with the other person unless they grow and change emotionally, but they won’t be the same person able to keep living their life the same way if they DO deal with whatever that internal issue is. So it’s a big deal, because their whole belief system about themselves and love and relationships has to change.
I also want to make the internal and external conflicts relate to each other. I was thinking “Yay, I’ve done that!” with the next story that I’m planning for the new HMB comp, but I’m wondering if it’s too tied up with their current relationships with their families of origin. I seem to remember Jackie Ashenden being told the editors didn’t want that, that past issues were okay but current issues are a no-no. I wonder if that’s because often current issues mean family members might be too much in the story as characters themselves, taking some of the focus off the hero and heroine? So would it be okay if the conflict is current, but the relevant family members are kept out of scene as much as possible? Easy for him, because he’s an American in London, so his family are off scene anyway; harder for her, because her father plays a significant role.
Anyway- here’s what I have for the next story. It’s very messy as I’m thinking this out as I go!
A key issue for this story (working title The Heiress and the Hotshot – wonder where I picked up that hotshot from?!) is that the heroine’s internal goal is to win her father’s approval as she’s always felt second best and unworthy of love and has worked very hard to prove herself to him by always being a good girl and doing what he wants. Then she meets the hero and they have have a weekend fling.
That sounds uncharacteristic but it does ties into her need to please and be seen to be doing the right thing, in a funny way- they get stuck in a lift together, which means she will be late getting to the friend’s wedding her date has just let her down for, he offers to drive her out to the country village where the wedding is being held, she asks him to help her out by posing as her date, they end up spending the weekend together. What she doesn’t realise is that he is her father’s business rival, so maintaining a relationship means giving up all chance of gaining her father’s love (not that there’s a “relationship”, as such, they agree up front it’s just going to be a fling). Her emotional growth is gaining her own internal sense of self-worth, which frees her from the need for Daddy’s approval. The first stage in this is dealing with her belief once she finds out who he really is, that the hero knew who she was all along and was only using her to get the upper hand in his business dealings. She went into their fling knowing it was only a short term thing, but she doesn’t like feeling used, it spoils the whole thing and makes it sordid and dirty instead of something special. He genuinely didn’t know who she was, and coming to believe that and that he had the fling with her just because he was attracted to her, and hey, it was great for him too, is the first step in her developing self-belief.
The hero’s issue is the opposite, he also grew up in a family with crippling high expectations, so extreme that his brother committed suicide as a way out. He dealt with it by running away and becoming a maverick free spirit who doesn’t value commitment or family at all, doesn’t even believe in love, seeing it as a tool used to manipulate people. So his journey to being able to love is even tougher, he needs to believe in love again and see being in a family as a good and desirable thing. I haven’t thought out his stages of emotional growth yet, but it needs to be escalating challenges to his beliefs too, like Nell’s.
What really makes the proverbial sh*t hit the fan for Nell isn’t so much finding out who Mace is, as later on when she finds out she’s pregnant. I think that will be a massive biggie for Mace too, but there needs to be more to it than that.
I dunno, does that sound like it would work, or is it all too tied in with family stuff?
Edited two hours later to add-
Oh my gosh, this is getting more complicated! Hanging out my washing not thinking about the story at all and the idea popped up that Mace also thinks that Nell must have know who he was along along and cooked up the whole broken down lift thing to help her father get a hold over him in the business negotaitions (they are in her father’s flagship hotel at the time- he’s checked in under a fake ID to check it out from the inside before making an offer on it, and she lets him believe she just works there) and he says some pretty nasty things coming out of his belief is that women are manipulative and deceitful. When Nell’s father finds out she is pregnant, he demands she have an abortion. For the first time in her life she stands up to him and refuses. She knows she can’t tell Mace, she’s already heard his opinion of women who use pregnancy to trap men into marriage. So she simply disappears, taking herself off and getting a job in another hotel right away from London (the one they stayed at when they had the weekend fling?), determined she will stand on her own two feet and somehow make a life for herself and her baby. Mace finds out about the baby, and comes looking for her. He’s realised that he loves her, but he’s angry that she didn’t trust him enough to tell him herself, couldn’t see that he would be willing to change. He realises that this is a woman who is not manipulative, who isn’t making demands on him, and the fact that she didn’t try to make him change is paradoxically what allows him to change his beliefs, making their HEA possible.
Hmm, don’t know if this is going from bad to worse! Is this internal or external conflict?