I have been trying all day to write this blog post. Seriously. All day. And that sort of sums up the last month of writing almost everything.
On my last blog, we talked about simplifying your secondary characters so the hero and heroine can take center stage. Now … what do we do with them? We put them in conflict. Internal and external.
In suspense, external conflict is usually danger: running for their lives, protecting each other, solving a mystery, chasing the villain. Whatever it is, the external conflict pushes them together when then don’t want to be, which is the internal conflict.
So, the internal conflict is why the hero and/or heroine don’t want to be together. They don’t think they need a protector, they think the other is in danger, they have a history together. He wants her, but she’s pushing him away. Or vice versa.
It’s as simple, and as difficult, as that. Because believable conflict is hard to do.
Simple rules for KISSing your conflict:
- Make the conflict arise from your characters’ jobs, families, or friends – something they cannot control or change.
- However, that conflict HAS to affect the main characters’ relationship with each other.
- Up that conflict by forcing the hero and heroine together, even if it’s just making them run into each other socially.
- Give them a reason to like and respect each other in spite of themselves.
- Give them a reason to disagree.
I’ll give you an example from a book I can’t wait to read: Callie Hutton’s The Earl Returns. It’s a Regency romance where the hero jilted a woman at the altar to marry someone else. He returns to London in the middle of the social season, now a widower, and is promptly attracted to … his jilted fiancée’s sister.
Why keep it simple? Because keeping the conflict straightforward lets your characters’ emotions shine through.
Let’s try something different in the comments. Let’s brainstorm the conflicts between new characters.
Our hero is a burn unit doctor and our heroine is an arson investigator. Go!