Friday, November 21, 2014

Deepening Internal Conflicts in Romance Novels

Yesterday I sent a partial to a trusted friend for some feedback. I mainly wanted to know: Is the story strong enough? Do you like the characters? Is there enough tension?

Naturally, fifteen minutes after I sent it, I realized my hero's internal conflict keeping him from falling in love wasn't fleshed out enough in the opening chapters. He had a good reason to avoid relationships, but I hadn't really shown how that affected him emotionally.

This got me to thinking. My favorite romance novels stick right to my heart. It's as if I'm taking the journey with them.

A good reason not to fall in love isn't enough. We need to show how the good reason emotionally affects the character.

Example of a good reason:

John's girlfriend died in a car accident two years ago. He loved her and was devastated when she died. He hasn't been willing to take a chance on dating since.

John's beloved girlfriend dying IS a great reason for him to avoid romance. However, it's not really enough. How did her death affect him? Why, specifically, is he scared to try again?

Possible emotional reactions:

- John is afraid of his heart breaking again if a new girlfriend dies. (Afraid of getting hurt)

- John feels betrayed by God that his love was taken from him so young. (Can't trust that God is for him)

- John doesn't believe he could ever love anyone like he loved his dead girlfriend. (He's unrealistically forgotten all the girlfriend's faults, putting her on a virtual pedestal. No one can live up to the memory of her.)

- John feels responsible for her dying, even though he wasn't involved in the accident. (False sense of control--he should have driven that night, etc...)

- John had his life planned out with girlfriend. (Doesn't believe a future with someone else could ever be as good as the one he lost.)

It's important to not only give our characters reasons to avoid love, but to show the emotional impact as well. If you took three real people and gave them the same reason for avoiding love, each would have a different emotional reaction. Our characters do too!

Is there a fictional character that stays in your mind? Do you know why? 

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Have a terrific weekend!!

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