As I begin another story – tentatively called Delsy’s Chance – I am just getting to know my hero and heroine, Delsy and Nathan. I am always amazed at this part of the writing process. I start with a simple idea of two people whom I know are going to end up together, and then I pretty much sit back and watch as they reveal all the emotional angst that will keep them apart for most of the story. This angst is commonly referred to as “The Conflict”.
There’s an external conflict – the outside forces that work against the relationship.
And there’s internal conflict. This is the good stuff, the meaty emotional issues our characters have to work through to get to their happily-ever-after. The story is best, most satisfying, when the internal conflicts of the hero and the heroine dovetail in some way. As Delsy struggles to let go of her memories of a devastating experience that prevents her from expressing herself sexually, Nathan struggles to overcome grief at the loss of his wife. In reaching out to each other, they not only bring comfort to each other, but they invite their own healing. Together then, they tackle the external conflict that is the last barricade to their happiness as a couple.
In real life, we all have internal conflict. We all have unresolved baggage from our childhood or former romantic relationships that keeps cropping up and preventing us from having the perfect life we think we should have. When we read a romance, we get to identify with the characters and imagine for a moment how it would feel to have our issues resolved. But even more satisfying, when we write romance, we can script that resolution exactly the way we want it to be. Maybe this time I can resolve a little bit of my own baggage along with Delsy and Nathan’s.
What do you think? Have you ever read a novel that helped you see your problems in a new light, or moved you closer to working through them? If you’re a writer, have you ever written the resolution you’d like to have in your own life?