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This week: Romantic ConflictEdited by: Lonewolf
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Stories must have conflict, but we're rarely told why, or what conflict means. A lot of writers make the same mistake. When they first hear about putting conflict in their stories, they envision adding chase scenes or fist fights. However, conflict can hinge on something as basic as two people in love arguing about their future together. Just like real life. A story where the readers don't care about the characters is going to fall flat, no matter how many bullets fly past them.
What stands in the way of your hero and heroine falling in love at the end of Chapter 1? To make the romance satisfying for the reader, you must not only make the conflict believable, but make it substantial enough to carry the story.
In simplest terms, conflict is important to a story because without conflict, there is no tension, no reason to keep reading and find out what happens. Conflict stems from the fact that your characters' lives aren't perfect. Like you, they don't have everything they want. Even if they found everything they thought they wanted, they would probably realize there was something missing. Characters have to try to attain something, not necessarily wealth. Your main characters have to take risks to set things right. Other characters, or circumstances have to get in their way to make things interesting.
Conflict has a special place in romance novels because romances have something that other novels don't have -- a strong emphasis on the relationship between a man and a woman. In a way, they don't just have one main character, they have two main characters. While most writers only have to worry about strengthening the conflict for one main character, you have to juggle the conflicts for the two characters. This is because the crux of the romance novel is the relationship between these main characters. It isn't just a subplot, it's the main plot. In the best romances, this relationship is intense.
However, this also means that if the hero and heroine are always at odds, your readers could throw the book against the wall in frustration.
The romantic conflict is probably the most important conflict in a romantic story. The major conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart will be introduced in the first chapter. This issue will follow the characters through the course of the story - sometimes appearing resolvable, sometimes not - and will reappear even stronger in the darkest moment of the story. While the main romantic conflict will drive most of the story, it is common that a book will have more than just one romantic conflict.
In most novels, the hero and heroine will have their personal reasons for not wanting to fall in love, or for not wanting to fall in love with each other. It's important to know which conflict carries the book, and make sure secondary conflicts are set up and resolved in a way that it doesn't lessen the story flow.
Excerpt of Longing:
Thin wisps of clouds were hanging up in the night sky, blocking out just enough light from the quarter moon to cast an eerie glow down upon the street. Actually it was not all that eerie, but it seemed so when you were moving quietly, trying not to be heard. Alexis Worthing contemplated that as she moved unheard (hopefully) to the front door of her house. She knelt down and softly removed the key from under the mat, thinking her father really needed to come up with a better place to hide it. She put the key into the lock, very slowly, which just seemed to make it louder. It was kind of like pulling off a Band-Aid. It would be less painful if you just ripped it off, but no one ever does. They always slowly tug on it out of fear of pain. There was an echoing click and she pushed the door open, slipping inside.
The living room was no more friendly looking in the dark then the outside had been, but at least she was one step closer to her goal. She walked quickly through the pitch black room, knowing it by heart after so many late night excursions to parties or some other kind of respite from her home. Now was the tricky part, The stairs. She moved up those like a cat, eliciting very few creaks from the floorboards underneath. At the second story of her house she turned left down the hallway and crept to the end door where her bedroom was. With a triumphant smile she placed her hand on the doorknob just as a deep voice from behind her growled.
~ ~ ~
Excerpt of Sara's Port, Ch. 1:
Oliver Kelly couldn't quite remember the exact moment he fell in love with Sara, but it was very soon after discovering her portfolio of writing on the internet.
It happened over the course of several autumn months while he was on location in California, during the filming of his third consecutive best selling novel, the legal thriller, Simon's Choice. Although he normally lived in Virginia, Hollywood was his home away from home during filming.
With final approval of all script changes, he felt the need to be on the set to work effectively with the Director, David Aaronson, and all the other screenwriters.
"Ollie, would this happen?" and "Ollie what do you think of this script change?" were questions most frequently asked during his days on the set.
David relied heavily on Oliver's opinion and they shared a mutual respect as well as a good working relationship.
~ ~ ~
Excerpt of Good Bye in Your Eye:
In the pleasant moonlight, a car pulled up to the edge of the bluff and stopped; the loud anxiety of highway smoothed out to the calm of serenity. Loud clicks opened the doors wide, swinging out hard. From the driver's side, her boy, her man, tall and lanky with imperfect features and a subtle smile, that beamed. His walk was careless but impassioned, his head darting to the other side lest he miss a precious moment or glimpse. From the passenger's side, his girl, his woman, short and slim, with a line of beauty curving her face and a subtle smile that hurt. She walked slowly, holding back an emotion that was not wanted, a tear that wanted to trail down her face a ragged scar. Her glances were furtive and distracted, always her eyes were fixed on him, but always she stared the ground. They walked toward the hood of the car, expectation growing like a flame in their bodies. A trembling tingle worked inside and out, making the air spark with an electric feel. Their bodies met at the center of the grille, and a kiss stopped the beating of their hearts.
~ ~ ~
Excerpt of The Office:
It was a lonely office. No one came in there often, not until she moved in. Usually it was dark, dusty, even damp when the ceiling leaked after one too many neglected plumber's appointments. Someone needed to rescue it, breathe life into it, restore it to its former glory.
The boss never gave anyone that office. The latest office rumor was that the office would remain empty due to the fact that it was the last place her husband had worked before he died. People began to get superstitious; those who wanted it were never offered the isolated room, and those who were offered it quickly turned it down in case it was cursed.
It was the office right next to Gavin's, and although he was easily the best-looking man in the building, he didn't help matters due to his reclusive and dark personality. He had even been called the office grouch, named so by those feeling a little less than festive during the holidays.
To be honest, Gavin West couldn't care less about the petty names he had been dubbed. Even less did he care about the woman who had taken on that dark office, being the first to occupy it in six years. He never understood why she was so excited about decorating the darkest office in the building three weeks before Christmas. It was just the holiday season, dammit; there was no need to get so worked up over a tree and a few strings of Christmas lights. Damn her and her festiveness; she hadn't even said a word to him and already she was annoying him to the point of insanity.
~ ~ ~
Excerpt of Never Forgotten:
School was finally over. It was now or never thought Nalia. She had to tell Seth, her best and only friend, that she was moving. She saw him waiting for her at the corner. They always walked home together; today would be the last for Nalia. She studied him as she walked; he was small and lanky, like most of the other 12 year-old boys in her class. He had black hair, and deep green eyes that almost seem to laugh at an unheard joke.
"Hey," said Seth when Nalia finally reached the corner.
"Hey..." said Nalia, her voice squeaked.
Seth looked at her, "What's up?"
"Um...lets wait till we get to the park," said Nalia, her voice still squeaking.
The park was right behind their houses; Nalia's house was only 4 down from Seth's. They walked in silence till they reached the park then Seth sat under their favorite tree; it was middle point between their houses.
"Alright, Nalia, what's up?" said Seth as he looked up at her.
Nalia paced slightly in front of Seth and messed with the end of her shirt. She finally faced him, "we're moving...I mean my family and I are moving...we...we leave tomorrow morning."
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