Last month I talked about romantic conflict in romance novels. Here are some conflict don’ts…and some examples of complex conflicts.
• Don’t have a conflict that can be cleared up with a discussion – that’s a misunderstanding rather than a conflict.
• Don’t use cliches – an example is once spurned, the heroine would never get involved with another man
• Don’t use the ‘I hate you but let’s go to bed’ syndrome
• Or – the hero who is reluctant to commit because he feels he’s not good enough for the heroine
To me, those are examples of weak romantic conflicts and an author can turn them around.
What if the spurned heroine is determined to make the hero run a gauntlet to prove he loves her. He may not know why she’s making prove himself over and over again, but he’s willing to do it to win her heart … until he finds out why. He feels she’s comparing him to a skunk, and nothing she says is going to make him feel better about it. So she’ll have to do something outrageous in return to prove her love for him.
Example of bringing together external and internal conflicts:
Heroine is a historian who has always loved a wonderful old mansion near the lake and is working to get it historical status. Hero is a developer who wants to tear it down to put up a high rise condo. Why do they have their particular points of view? Maybe she comes from a background where her family wanted everything new, didn’t appreciate anything with history, didn’t appreciate her, which made her feel like the odd woman out. She can equate the hero with her family. Maybe the hero has to prove himself to his family, and that condo he’s going to build is his chance. If he gives it up, then he has failed. No matter if they’re honest with each other, that’s not going to end the conflict. They each have to work to make the other person happy/fulfilled, each have to be willing to give something up for the other. Of course what I would do is have the hero decide to give up on the project for her, which makes her feel like she is appreciated for who she is. At the same time, I would have her be willing to give up her fight to get the property historical status. He refuses. And then she would use connections to find him another property for his condo.
Here are some examples from my The McKenna Legacy novels when falling in love for a McKenna means putting that person in danger…
Brazen – Siobhan is a branch of the McKennas under a curse. Fall in love, act on that love and put the love interest in mortal danger. So in the past, she broke up with Clay so he wouldn’t die like her father did. And then she married someone else who did die. In the present day story, Clay returns to protect her. And while he still loves her, he’s not willing to fully open himself to her because he doesn’t trust her not to spurn him again.
Deal Breaker – Hailey thinks Bryce marries her strictly for business because he wants money, when in fact, he’s trying to save the family business and the only other way he can do it to sell the Lake Geneva house, which was his late mother’s legacy to her children. He can’t do it. He feels responsible for her disappearance. This is all they have left of her.
Purebred – Cat is divorced from a man who married her for her money and is still trying to take what she has left. Aidan has come from Ireland with his racehorse on her dime, and she starts making comparisons between the two. Also, Aidan was in love with a jockey and she died riding one of his horses. So he convinces himself he won’t put another woman at risk, until dangerous things start happening to Cat.
And more examples from my stories in the three serial novels recently published:
Gypsy Magic serial novel: Andrei
Elizabeth’s mother was murdered and Andrei’s father testified against the man convicted of her murder. Now Andrei is trying to prove that man, his cousin, is innocent. In addition, Andrei is cursed by the man’s gypsy mother never to consummate his relationship with any woman.
Renegade Magic serial novel: Rico
Rico abandoned the mystical beliefs of his heritage, an obstacle in his relationship with artist Charlotte, who is drawn to the old ways. His disbelief makes her fear they will never mesh. Meditation pulls Charlotte straight into her paintings where she senses the murdering witch following her. Terrified of losing her when she is in a dangerous trance, Rico forces his mind to follow.
New Orleans Magic serial novel: Zachary
Officer Zachary Doucet arrives at a murder scene‒‒the victim another voodoo ceremony participant‒‒only to face his ex-partner Detective Rebecca Romero. Zachary intends to clear his half-brother Jordan. From something he did in the past to get his arrest, Rebecca fears he’ll do anything to free Jordan. With Rebecca a straight arrow and Zachary a maverick, is there hope for a future together?