Friday, July 22, 2016

C is for conflict

Margaret talks about conflict in romances


A story without conflict is about as interesting as watching paint dry, and I’m not talking about pointless arguments. I’m talking about meaningful conflict. Something that matters very much to our protagonists. Something that is almost a life and death situation. Something that will break their hearts if it is not resolved.

Generally in a romance the whole story revolves around two people who either meet for the first time or have met previously in less than happy circumstances. There has perhaps been trouble between them in the past, or there is something in the present that has thrown a spanner in the works.

Very often there is more than one thing causing this dissent and the author has to slowly peel back the layers until the fundamental reason is discovered and dealt with. While some conflicts can be dealt with quite quickly, others are far more deep-rooted.

Maybe they had been friends once but had fallen out over something that now seems trivial. Therefore when they meet again they will need to work very hard to get over it.

Or maybe they’re pushed together through work and she falls in love with him, only to discover he already has a girlfriend. But then she sees this woman out with another man and debates whether to tell him or not.

These are only a couple of instances but the possibilities are infinite. The secret is to keep the reader’s interest engaged, to take them through the many ups and downs until the inevitable happy ending.






  1. Good analysis of conflict, Margaret.

  2. Throw obstacles in the path of true love.

  3. Conflict and tension are what keep the reader turning pages.

    1. Sometimes easier said than done, but a definite must.

  4. Finding the balance of internal and external conflict is important, too.

    I read somewhere that if an author does conflict 'right', even though readers know the HEA of a romance is required, they'll wonder up until the very end how it will ever be possible.

  5. I absolutely agree, though it's not something I keep in mind when I'm writing. Perhaps it's something that comes automatically when you've a few books under your belt.