Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Love Is Hard - Understanding Emotional Conflict

We have spent a lot of time talking about conflict here on the blog. We have talked about external conflict and we have talked about internal conflict. What I really want to focus on today is the concept of emotional conflict in romance novels. In honestly have to say, this is one of those biggest struggles I see so many writers have with their stories. Sure, they have things getting in the way of
the hero and heroine getting together, but for the most part, there isn't that emotional barrier they have to over come.

To understand this concept, it is best to, once again, return to the real world. It is time to think back to those first growing emotions two people have with one another.

Those early stages are pretty fantastic. These are the moments when everyone is seeing the world through rose colored glasses. But here is the thing. In the majority of cases, there is no formal commitment of "getting together". The couples are hanging out with one another. They are enjoying the company of one another. But, taking that next step to something more permanent is not getting in the way of things progressing.

When one of the members of that relationship then considers "taking it to the next level" things get complicated. And, it is here that the romance novels, in my opinion, are missing the mark. In the real world, that move is all about emotions. It doesn't involve whether or not our bosses will approve. It doesn't involve whether or not there is a financial gain. The barrier the couple faces is all about that emotional move of "do I dare move on?"  It is that fear of the unknown.

For the most part, these problems are occurring because of the set up of the relationship in the beginning. In an effort to get that romance going so soon in the story, the authors have failed to set up that growing phase of attraction. This leaves nothing more than an external conflict to get in the way.

One of the reasons romance is so hard to write is the struggle an author has to convey a feeling, which, in the real world, is often one that we cannot describe. Again, think back to when you first feel in love, or when you were first at this moment of not knowing if you could take the next step. Everyone around you would try to rationalize it, but for you, the only answer was "I don't know why but..."

To truly convey this emotional conflict requires authors really understanding their characters and what makes them tick. They have to know why their character would even be attracted "emotionally" to the other character. They have to know how they think and why they think the way they do. This is all internal. The reasons for getting together cannot simply be because the company doesn't allow inter-office dating.

1 comment:

  1. Can you give us any examples of books that have done it right?