Tuesday, February 25, 2020

What is External and Internal Conflict?

You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and it’s perfectly enjoyable, but you can’t help but think something’s missing? Maybe this has happened in your own writing. You’re making your way through your book and you realise it doesn’t read like some of your favourite romance novels. The answer to this often lies in the conflict. Not sure what I mean? Keep reading then!

There are two types of conflict: external and internal.

External conflict is what tends to bring your characters together. Maybe the hero’s father passes away and leaves a will that dictates he must marry before he can inherit. He asks his best friend to marry him until the inheritance is his; thereafter, they can live their lives separately again (haha). Or maybe the heroine has a one-night stand, realises she’s pregnant and has to tell the man she slept with.
Basically, the external conflict is anything your characters face that comes from outside themselves.
External conflict can be linked to well-loved romance tropes, too. In my earlier examples, you can see marriages of convenience; friends-to-lovers; a surprise pregnancy; or perhaps even a secret baby.

Internal conflict, on the other hand, is what keeps your characters apart.

Internal conflict is more complicated than external conflict. It’s the emotional issues your characters have that keep them from simply being with one another. Perhaps our hero feels abandoned after his father’s death, and can’t bring himself to love someone again, lest he be hurt. Or maybe our heroine has dated a controlling man before and is terrified of it happening again. When she falls pregnant, and the hero asks her to marry him, she thinks he’s trying to control her, and she can’t accept it. Usually where your internal conflict is concerned, your characters start in one place – the place of hurt or fear – and end in another.

The journey the characters go on in the romance should dictate where that end place is.

In the above examples: the heroine shows the hero that love is worth taking the chance of being hurt for. Or the hero proves that he doesn’t want to control the heroine; only love her. The stronger the internal conflict, the more satisfying the romance. So while the external conflict is important, it’s really the internal conflict that’s king. At least in romance.

The point?

Conflict of both kinds need to appear in your romance novel. While most readers might not know what it is in so many words, they’ll definitely miss it if you don’t have it!
You can find Therese Beharrie on Twitter or Facebook!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Being part of it: the online writing community


You have friends in every corner of the world; people as diverse as the places in which they live. You all have one thing in common: a love of writing.

Look up #WritingCommunity on Twitter and you’ll see the big picture: writers, writers everywhere! All talking about their writing, or prevaricating about writing or shouting about their books or even sometimes ‘shamelessly promoting someone else’.

It’s a big pond to play in.

But scale it down. Find a quieter corner.

What I want to share with you is my experience of belonging to a community; of gathering a group of online writing friends around you and of sharing encouragement and support.

I hang out in a small corner of the blogosphere via the wordpress platform. If you want to know about the technicalities, there’s plenty of ‘how to’ info out there on the interweb.

Way back in 2012 I set up my blogsite, purely as somewhere to store the short stories I’d written. Then, two years ago, when I started working from home doing social media stuff for a handful of clients and concentrating seriously on writing novels, as a bit of light relief, I began posting flash fiction pieces on the site.

I was pretty amazed that people took the time to read and comment… and say nice things. Suddenly I began to have a following.

And so I reciprocated. I read other people’s posts on the wordpress reader and commented on them. Before long, we had become a little community. We often write to prompt posted by someone else: a photo or a random word. We all come back and share. It’s become a virtual writing group.

Not everyone in our group aspires to be a published writer. Some do, some already are. Some just write for fun (well, I guess we all do that). Some post more frequently than others. People dip in and dip out like in any group. But there’s a hard core of folk who are always there, those I could sit down and share a coffee and a chat with, the ones I call my ‘virtual’ friends.

Within a year, I’d acquired many, many more contacts. The blog is linked to Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and, more recently, to Instagram. It provides me with a springboard to launch my work, and I’m selling an increasing number of my books as a result. However for me, it’s the participation and support of my virtual writing group that’s most important.

Writers are such nice people, aren’t they?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Essence of Attraction - Part Three

In my first two posts, I outlined six important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mystery, desireconfidence, unpredictability, challenge and social status.

Another crucial element when it comes to creating attraction between a couple is likeability. Now I’m not saying that the hero and heroine will necessarily like one another all the time. In most romance novels, sparks are usually flying, and it is fair to say that the hero and heroine don’t always see eye to eye on matters. But in a good romance novel, the hero and heroine will often find themselves liking each other – even if it is against their will.

Leading on from this is the idea of humour as an import aspect of attraction. In a heated discussion between the hero and heroine, what often diffuses the scene, and also adds to the likeability factor between the two characters is humour. Nothing is more likely to create a buzz between your two main characters than some humorous exchanges.

Humour and intelligence are often linked, and when two characters connect, it is because they have an appreciation for each other’s mind or way of thinking. This is a very important element of attraction because if two characters cannot connect on an intellectual level, then they’re doomed as a romantic couple… just think of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice for a telling example of a couple who were mismatched intellectually. If the heroine never catches the hero’s jokes, or she finds him an inferior intellectually, any attraction between the two will fizzle out after a while, and die.

Mr and Mrs Bennet from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

Now I’ll come to the final element of attraction. As it is the most obvious element, I’ve left till last. And it is... physical attraction! The hero and heroine must find each other physically attractive otherwise the relationship will never get off the ground, let alone approach anywhere near an altar.

Do you have any other aspects of attraction you’d like to add to my list? If so, please leave a comment.