• akenley

Is Your Romance Lacking Conflict?

As romance writers, we know that without the romantic conflict, there is no romance. It’s just a thriller or young adult or paranormal story. There are many ways to establish conflict. You just need to understand the conflict your story needs.

Internal Conflict

For the romantic relationship to work, both the hero and heroine need an internal conflict to overcome. It really is best if their conflicts are at odds with each other.

For example:

The hero’s internal conflict is that everyone wants him for his money. So he has trust issues.

The heroine’s internal conflict is that she feels like she isn’t good enough. She believes if she can just make something of herself, she will be worthy. So she has confidence issues.

How does this affect their relationship?

It puts them in a push-pull situation. She is ambitious and needs success—maybe measured by her financial status—and he doesn’t trust people because they use him for what he can give them, which is often money.

An important point: the heroine could have trust issues, too, as long as it put her at odds with the hero.

For the romantic relationship to work, for the hero and heroine to be forced to overcome their internal conflicts, they have to have an external conflict that puts them in a position where they have no choice.

Another example:

Take the hero and heroine from above. What external conflict would make them deal with their internal conflict? The heroine working for the hero? Or maybe they are adversaries in business who have to work together in some capacity. They both want the same property. She needs it, he just wants it. Either way, they have to deal with each other. There is no easy out.

The external conflict needs to drive the hero and heroine to be forced to find the courage to overcome their internal obstacles or lose out on love. Without it, there is no happy ever after.

Determine Your Conflicts

These questions work for any subgenre of romance. First, figure out how the characters react to each other.

  • What will put them at odds with each other?

  • What is the one thing that will be painful for them to overcome?

  • Is there something they are afraid to face about themselves?

The answers will help you figure out how the romantic relationship needs to develop in the plot. Whatever external conflict the romantic couple are facing will force them to confront and resolve their internal conflict in order to earn their happy ever after.

'Til next time,


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