Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Three Questions to Ensure Conflict

Ask any editor the main reason submissions are rejected and they will tell you - lack of conflict. My editors at Love Inspired tweet about it frequently, speakers expound on it. Books delve into it and seminars go on for hours about its importance. So how do you build in conflict from the start? Make sure you can answer these three questions before you start writing your book.

Why are Hero and Heroine the worst for each other?
These two aren’t supposed to be soul mates from the moment they meet. Even if there’s an attraction or a history, they should have reasons why falling in love is the last thing they want.
Example: A woman who lost her husband to violence would resist falling in love with a man who was a cop. A man would resist falling for the woman who broke his heart years ago especially if he has his children’s hearts to protect now.

Why is this the worst possible time?
Falling in love has to be the very last thing on the hero and heroine’s agenda when the book opens. Something more important is going on. Loss of job, loved one, being stranded, forced to assume care of child or relative. The growing attraction should complicate their situations, and add to their conflicted emotions.

What is the urgency?
Set a timer on your story. Force the hero and heroine into making a decision. Example: His leave is up at the end of the month. Her dream job in another city starts soon. Once her mother is better she’ll return home. If there’s nothing pushing them forward, then they’re simply dating and dating equals no conflict.

If you’re like me the word conflict always made me envision a hero and heroine bickering, and fighting each other at every turn. It helped when I changed the word “conflict” to “obstacles”.  The goal of any romance is to keep the couple resisting falling in love until the very end. They have issues they need to confront internally, realizations to come to about themselves and their choices, and they have outward problems to overcome before they can have that happy ending.
Make it hard for them to fall in love. Make it cost them something they want. Then the ending will be much sweeter for the author and the reader.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great reminder for me, Lori, before I jump back into my story. I do use these questions, and they help. Thanks for the brain boost!