Carol here! You get me two days in a row! But this month I’m welcoming my super special guest, amazing author, writer of cowboys in contemporary romance (which may be my very favorite type of hero ever) and good friend, Becky Wade. If you’ve not read her books, well, you’re missing out! Honest! It seems as though the secret key to a successful romance novel should be, well, love. Except it’s not. If the heroine and hero meet on page one and immediately fall in love without any issues or obstacles then the author is left with no story to tell. I think the secret key that keeps us romance readers up late at night reading, that makes our hearts race, and causes us to fret over whether our characters will achieve a happy ending is actually CONFLICT. Conflict = the reasons why the hero and heroine can’t allow themselves to love one another. Authors who manage to write wonderful novels make it look easy, don’t they? You slip into their story world and forget you’re reading, which is a special kind of magic that is, in fact, NOT easy to accomplish. So? How do they do it? Let’s take a peek at three of the tools your favorite authors might be using behind the scenes to craft great romantic conflict.
#1: A balance of internal and external conflict. An example of internal conflict: The heroine was abandoned by her father at the age of eight. In the face of that devastation, she promised herself that she’d never again give her heart into the keeping of a man. See how that issue is internal? It has to do with emotions. An example of external conflict: The hero is in the Army and will be leaving for a tour in three weeks. He can’t fall head over heels in love right before such a long and dangerous absence. Notice how this issue is external (circumstantial)? In my opinion, the best novels employ both kinds of conflict. #2. Conflict that changes over the course of the book. Perhaps the characters deal with their external conflict, only to find they need to face their internal conflicts. Or vice versa. No matter what, the conflict between the characters should be in a continuous state of evolution. The heroine shouldn’t be saying on page 10, “I can’t love him because I’m from Clan MacDonald and he’s from Clan McDougal!” and still be saying the very same thing on page 410. By 410, she’s hopefully peeled back layers of conflict to reveal something new and different.
#3. Conflict that revolves around important issues. Terrific conflict is never based on a misunderstanding. It can’t be cured by a frank conversation. It’s not rooted in something minor like, “When I was twelve my grandmother warned me to avoid Tom. Because she always believed he was trouble, I can’t let myself love him now.” A conflict this trivial won’t sustain a chapter or two, much less an entire novel. Far better for conflict to be based on things that really matter like honor, loyalty, integrity, promises. There you have it! You’ll be an expert on conflict at your next book club meeting! Your group can chat about whether a book’s conflict was internal/external/both, whether it developed over the storyline, and what it was based upon. Think for a moment about of a romance novel that sticks out in your memory because of its excellent conflict. Please share! Why did that book’s conflict work so well for you? Many thanks to Carol Moncado for inviting me to guest blog here at InspyRomance! I appreciate the opportunity, Carol. Inspirational contemporary romance is my absolute favorite niche in the world of publishing. I wholeheartedly love it and it’s a treat to interact with readers and writers who feel the very same way. Becky – you are welcome to join us Any. Time! We’re not doing a giveaway today, but if you pop over to my personal blog to sign up for my newsletter, I’m doing a giveaway and at least one of Becky’s books is on the list of books to choose from :). I can’t pick my favorite Becky book, but Meant to be Mine has one of my favorite plots so we’ll go with that one. For now ;). One spontaneous Las Vegas wedding. + One groom who regrets it in the morning. + Five and a half years of separation. + A baby hidden from her father. = Lots of emotion, fun, romance and forgiveness. Becky makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and one adoring (and adored) cavalier spaniel. Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was a finalist in both the RITA and INSPY awards. Undeniably Yours kicked off her Texas-set Porter Family series. Her newest contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine, has just hit shelves! You can find Becky online at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her group blog, Inspired by Life and Fiction.
Andrea Cox says
Welcome, Becky! So glad to have you here at Inspy Romance, even if it is only one day. (Psst! I’m sure you’ll be back before we know it.)
Great work on defining what makes a great romance novel. They wouldn’t be anything without conflict. I always think of Julie Klassen’s books when I think of conflict in novels. She’s so great at having something new and unexpected pop up that keeps the hero and heroine from falling in love (or at least admitting it), and her timing is completely perfect. There are so many more examples besides Julie, but she’s the first one that popped into my mind.
How’s the writing going for you? Hope all is well and your family is enjoying summer!
Becky Wade says
Hello to everyone at InspyRomance!! I’m currently vacationing in sunny Watercolor, Florida with my kids, my sister and her kids, and my mom and dad. For the next few days my transportation will come in the form of a bike. My destination will either be pool or beach. :)
Hi, Andrea! Good to see you here. Re: how my writing is going… I always write much less in the summer because my kids are out of school and we’re taking fun trips, etc. But I’m still managing to keep up with my relaxed writing goals so far. I’m working on a novella, which is fun. This is my first time to ever try one!
Andrea Cox says
Becky, enjoy your summer and relaxed writing schedule. A break, even if not an entire breakaway from writing, serves as a great refresher for when the workload gets heavy again. Ooh, I hope you have a blast with your first novella! I tried to write a short story once to put in a holiday compilation book I was planning… That story ended up being a 50-chapter first-of-five-books-in-a-series story. Yeah. I’m not so good at writing short, apparently. Should have guessed that on my last research paper in high school. Lengthy! Anyway, loving the process, but I’m not sure I see any novellas in my immediate future.