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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Conflict from the heart

Hiya, Noodlers! Thanks for asking me back to your fantastic blog!

Ah, conflict in a romance novel! What a sticky wicket that can be!

It’s at the heart of what makes a great romance and because it’s so intrinsic to writing a great book, it’s one of the hardest things to get right. As Trish so wisely pointed out last week, it’s NOT bickering. It’s something that touches the deepest part of who these people are.

There are two great quotes I remember when I talk about conflict. One I heard at our Romance Writers of Australia conference back in 2004. The other I only heard recently.

Kate Walker, who writes for Harlequin Presents, said the conflict in a romance novel must come from something at the most essential level of the characters. People generally talk about conflict in connection with the protagonist’s goal. That’s because a really compelling conflict is created when the other person is what stands in the way of that goal. And the goal has to be something they would do anything to achieve.

As Kate said – and this was the punch line for me – they have to be willing to sacrifice the love of a lifetime in order to achieve their aims. The goals need to be big and meaty and important. Stakes need to be high. Then you get the kind of conflict in a book that keeps your reader up all night.

The other great quote about conflict comes from wonderful Aussie Desire author Bronwyn Jameson. Bron was talking about external and internal conflict. Her definition of the two is that, “External conflict is what drives the characters together. Internal conflict is what pushes them apart.” It’s fabulous, isn’t it? Simple yet so true.

To give you an example of conflict in action, I thought I’d talk about my debut novel, Claiming the Courtesan. (You can read an excerpt here). The Duke of Kylemore wants to marry his mistress, the notorious courtesan Soraya (hero’s goal). She wants to escape her decadent life and retire to obscurity and freedom (heroine’s goal). External conflict emerges because their goals are diametrically opposed and that’s where the events of the plot come from.

But at a much deeper level, both these people have survived horrific pasts only by completely expunging emotion from their lives. Love is the enemy and love is what the other person represents. That’s the internal conflict – they’re fighting themselves and they’re also fighting what the other person means to them. Obviously the internal and external conflicts here overlap in various ways. But you can see what I mean by the stakes being high – to both Soraya and Kylemore, surrendering to love threatens their very survival. In a metaphysical sense, it’s a life or death situation.

I’d love you to share your analysis of the internal and external conflict in your work in progress or the most recent romance you’ve read. My favorite take on a story wins a $15 Amazon voucher!

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At 12:00 AM, Blogger Tawny said...

GREAT explanations of conflict, Anna. In my stories, the internal conflict is usually stronger than the external, both because my writing style is pretty light and also because I write for Blaze, which means my characters are doing the horizontal mambo really early into the story. Don't get me wrong! I do have external conflict but its definitely lighter and usually based on the sexual hook :-)

At 12:56 AM, Blogger Christine Wells said...

Wonderful analysis, Anna! Claiming the Courtesan is a perfect example of powerful internal conflict.

Internal conflict is one of the most difficult things to do well, IMO, but when an author gets it right, it makes a novel utterly compelling.

In my current WIP, I'm still feeling my way with the conflict, but here goes: My heroine believes if she lets herself be vulnerable enough to love someone, he'll use it to destroy her, as her late husband nearly destroyed her with his deceptions and cruelty. So even when she's presented with the man of her dreams, she can't let herself be happy with him. The more she sees herself falling for him, the more she pushes him away. She's not going to let a man close enough to her to hurt her again.

My hero, on the other hand, will do anything to make the heroine his...except admit a weakness--that he is as vulnerable to the heroine as she is to him. He doesn't realize that if only she sees she has as much power over him as he has over her, she might let herself love him.

Thanks for the discussion! I love those quotes from Kate Walker and Bronwyn Jameson, too. I must go back and read all these excellent posts.

At 3:26 AM, Blogger Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning noodlers and Anna! Well, technically it's after midnight so that makes it morning, doesn't it? (My internal clock is always so confused.)

I love the explanation of conflict you gave, Anna. I think when we first write, we do so by instinct. At least I did. Then I had to learn about both internal and external conflict, then figured out if I was already doing it right.

The book I just finished had some interesting internal conflict. The hero wanted to get out of his small town to actually disappear into annonymity of the undercover world he'd once lived in. The heroine comes to the small town looking for adventure as a PI. She ends up learning that love with the right person can be an adventure, and he realizes he loves not only the heroine but every quirky character in the town, especially when they are threatened by one of their own.

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

Lovely, thought-provoking blog! I love Kate W's point about conflict being based on character, and Bron's quote about the pull apart/push together is spot on!

You did that layering of external and internal conflict so well in Courtesan, and again in Untouched. You've got a gift for it.

Hm, my current wip has a hero who's obsessed with gaining the one thing he things will make his life complete. Only the heroine can deliver that to him. She doesn't want to get involved but marriage to the hero is the only way she can get what she wants (a chance to save her sister). External conflict driving them together.

But they're driven apart by distrust. He's ruthless and apparently in the same mould as her despised grandfather (a master manipulator who made the heroine's life hell). She'd do anything other than trust another domineering, ruthless man who presses all her buttons. The hero views her, based on his past experiences (he's quite wounded) and several recent events, as the sort of spoilt wealthy person he most despises. He distrusts her and the attraction he feels. He has an image of the sort of woman he wants as his wife and she's nothing like the heroine. He has to learn the difference between his long held ideal and reality. Both must overcome their prejudice enough to see the real reasons behind the other's behaviour.

Sorry, I haven't put that well. Synopses aren't my strong suit!

Off to think a little more about conflict.


At 5:04 AM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

It's hard to define external and internal sometimes, isn't it, Tawny? And of the two, I must say generally the internal one is what gives a story its emotional punch. The horizontal mambo, huh? Snork!

Christine, your story sounds SO compelling. I can't wait to read it. As you know, I was a huge fan of Scandal's Daughter. And then I was lucky enough to read your next release The Dangerous Duke at the manuscript stage. Sometimes I feel VERY privileged! I love the way with this new story that you've made each of them the stumbling block for the other person's goal, if you know what I mean. That really gives some powerful punch and raises the stakes.

At 5:08 AM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Suz, I think you're right about instinct - in fact, I still operate largely by instinct. I've read so many romance novels over my life, the blueprint in many ways is just printed on my brain. What I find useful is to come back at the editing stage and start asking questions about what is the conflict and have I taken it to the nth degree. If you're going to get high stakes emotion, you have to make sure the stakes in your story are high. No pussyfooting allowed! That book you describes sounds interesting - and again, they each represent the other's stumbling block!

Annie, I LOVE the sound of your new story. It sounds like the sort of intense, emotional, passionate conflict that you do so well. And you've given us a wonderful example of what Bron talks about with external conflict keeping them together and internal conflict driving them apart. If it's done right, that pattern can add such sizzle and power to a story. Thanks so much for popping by to comment.

At 5:17 AM, Blogger Annie West said...


The stories I love best have that inbuilt conflict that fuels the whole book. As Trish says, conflict doesn't equal bickering (though a good verbal stoush can enliven things occasionally) and I think getting the conflict right from the start helps avoid that.

Hey, thanks for the lovely compliments!


At 5:18 AM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Actually, I should credit Christine Wells for the analysis of Courtesan. We did a workshop together for beginner writers at the Brisbane Writers Festival last September. She used CTC as her example when she explained to the group how to use conflict in a romance novel. Worked for me! They all bought the book ;-)

At 5:19 AM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I think you're right about the conflict being strong enough to fuel the whole story. And those really meaty internal conflicts do that. The other thing is that they give our characters something huge to overcome, a character arc with eventual triumph. It's a very compelling pattern of story telling.

At 5:54 AM, Blogger Christine Wells said...

Anna, you know, I think you're giving me false credit. I'm sure you put the conflict in CTC so much better than I did! And thank you for those lovely words about my books. Cheque's in the mail!

I know Diane has discussed Michael Hauge's teaching on this blog, but his analysis of a character arc and the way it fits into story structure really resonated with me.

Romance writers have it tough because we tend to have two protagonists and therefore two major character arcs to deal with at the same time. I think that takes it one step beyond what most craft classes teach because they tend to focus on protagonist/antagonist, not 2 protagonists, plus one or even two antagonists, who might also be the protagonists, but might be a third party altogether. Confusing?

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Look at all these early morning comments! :)

Have to run to work, but I'll try to pop back later and put up my own conflicts for advice.

Great examples, Anna!

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great blog, Anna. I love that quote from Bronwyn Jameson: External conflict drives the characters together and the internal conflict drives the characters apart.

In my WIP, my heroine is so focused on revenge she can't think straight let alone love anyone. My hero believes in justice and the American way and he thinks she's a criminal, so there's no way they could ever fall for each other! Or is there?! :)

Can't wait to read Claiming the Courtesan and Untouched. Congratulations on the double with the RITA this year and thanks so much for joining the WNP today.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Lorelle said...

Brilliant ideas!

The external conflict driving the hero and heroine together and the internal driving them apart fits what I once heard Jenny Crusie say about not making the hero and heroine each other's antagonists, but having them be allies against a bigger antagonist. If the protagonist's job is to defeat the antagonist and the hero or heroine fill that role, it would not make for a loving relationship.

While they are trying to achieve their external goals, they must learn to overcome their differences and present a united front.

Great post, Anna! Many thanks to Bronwyn for making is so simple, too!

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna, I love a gal who isn't scared to go all pointy-headed and analytical on us! Woot! And people think it's EASY to write romance! BWAHAHAH!

I would add to the conversation that I think you hit the writing jackpot when the external conflict mirrors or symbolizes the internal conflict. When you've got that, your characters can solve their internal conflicts through active, external means (or at least SHOW that resolution to the reader, relieving you, the author, with the burden of TELLING the reader that the internal conflict has been solved).

For my upcoming YA, the heroine has a psychic gift, but she can't decided if it's a good or bad gift, and can't decide if she's good or bad for using it. She's got to make a choice -- try to use her power for good and accept the responsibility that things might go wrong, or give up on doing good and use her power for selfish aims.

Meanwhile, she's got two boys to chose between. One follows the rules, the other is the rebel. External plot forces her to choose -- in a very physical way -- between the boys. Which tells you the choice she's made about herself and her gift.

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lorelle, I was thinking about that exact point! I think it's really hard when your hero and heroine are pitted against each other, but it's an easy way to raise the stakes. It makes for a very messy resolution, though, because you've got to find someway either for one of them to realize they were going after the wrong goal (always fun!) or they've got to lose in a big nasty way to the other. Very hard.

Anna, what do you think?

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Hi Anna, dropping in to say hello and thanks for visiting.
My reader radar on dark and angsty tells me that if you want to give the h/h a smack around the head and tell them to straighten themselves out, then it's not working.
No dopeslapping in your books, Anna, I hasten to add!

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Christine, I'm really looking forward to hearing Michael Hauge when he visits Australia in May. And you're right about romance having slightly more complex character arcs than some genres. And there's also the fact that these arcs have to intersect with each other to make the story work.

Hey, Gillian, looking forward to seeing you later!

Hi Theresa! Thanks so much for inviting me back. I always have a great time here - and you guys sure hand out some great writing advice! Thanks for the RITA congratulations. Honestly it's a dream come true! Can't wait for San Francisco. Great conflict for your characters - I think conflicts based in conflicting principles are sometimes the strongest of the lot. And believable, going back to Kate Walker's words. People DO sacrifice everything including their lives for a principle if they believe in it strongly enough.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Lorelle, glad you enjoyed the blog. Conflict is something I think about a lot as it's so essential to a good story but I'd definitely say my ideas are works in progress ;-) Interesting you mention Jenny Crusie. We were lucky enough to hear her speak at our last Romance Writers of Australia conference and all I can say is if she's appearing near you, run, don't walk to get there to hear her! She definitely had a point about not making the conflict one where there's a loser. But I also think you can make your character arc one where the h/h realize that their goals needed to change and grow and in that process, they can reach an accommodation with the other person. To go back to CTC, Verity/Soraya wants freedom and she thinks Kylemore stops her from achieving that. But she can't be truly free until she (a) acknowledges everything she is and (b) lets love into her life. Her goal isn't wrong but the way she goes about it isn't going to get her what she needs at a deepestlevel.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, are you saying my pointy head is showing? I'll have to get out the hairspray and go all '80s hair!

Hey, I love the way you phrase the internal and external conflict reflecting one another. I must remember that AND USE IT!!! The other thing I like to do in my stories is have the h/h's internal conflict reflect the other person's. So you get this mirroring effect there too - and also the fact that this other person is uniquely positioned to understand what the h/h has been through. I've talked about that in the CTC model (I can hear Kirsten laughing - we've got MODELS now!). In Untouched, my second book, the hero has been locked away as a madman since he was 14. While my heroine hasn't suffered to quite that extent, she also has been trapped until, ironically, she's kidnapped to become my hero's plaything and discovers freedom in her ability to love him.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kirsten! TWO posts - you really DO want that Amazon voucher, don't you, my friend? I don't like it in a romance where one character is ALWAYS wrong and the other one is ALWAYS right and the resolution is 100% in one person's favor. I have read that and usually it's the heroine. You know, he doesn't trust emotion or family or whatever but then he sees the light and stops being Mr Mean Man and turns all soft and fuzzy and, in the book's ethical arc, RIGHT rather than WRONG. I don't think that's a very realistic portrayal of what negotiating a relationship (with anyone, not just your significant other!) is like. Instead, I like that subtle give and take so eventually they both end up in a place neither were capable of filling at the beginning of the story.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten - man, you did bring up some interesting points! - I love the sound of your story. This is the first of your Delcroix Academy Series, isn't it? For those who don't know, Kirsten has sold an amazing series of YAs to Hyperion. And I see what you mean about choice and responsibility being at the heart of the story. Am I right? The other thing about the h/h's conflict is that usually it comes back to one central theme which infiltrates everything in the book.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Phew! Janet let's me off the dopeslapping hook! Thanks for having me back at the Noodlers. I think you guys are fantastic! Conflict is tough, isn't it? Because often it's so much easier to put in the stuff that makes you want to run over the h/h in a steamroller. But readers know when they're being sold a pup and that manufactured stuff just doesn't work in the long run. The thing about true, heartfelt conflict in a book is it has to come from deep inside those characters and it has to be important to them and it has to make sense to them (even if it doesn't to the outside world) and it has to make sense to a reader that it makes sense to them. Hmm, starting to chase my tail here. Watch out, here comes a dopeslap. OUCH!

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Another Bandita swinging by in support of our Foanna! Wonderful post, Fo and great example in CTC.

Lorelle and Kirsten, must voice my agreement with the points you both made. Since I write romantic suspense, the external conflict most definitely drives the h/h together. Someone or something is threatening them, so they must cooperate. Therefore, the internal conflict has to be what keeps them apart, emotionally.

My current WIP has some common threads with yours Kirsten. My hero has psychic abilities which he has tried to ignore but can't. He's promised the heroine (the love of his life, of course) he won't use them, but if he doesn't, people will die. And not just any people, but his best friend, who just happens to have a "thing" for the heroine too! How's that for high stakes?

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Cindy, thanks for popping by. I've said to you before, but I'll say it again, I can't wait for THE WILD SIGHT to come out! I've already got it ordered at Amazon! GREAT conflict and a perfect example of what we're talking about. High stakes, from the heart, important, and internal and external conflict reflecting each other so that the tension just keeps building.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Jeez, you Banditas run in packs, don't you?

Anna, I always suspected Aussies were smart. Your quotes from Kate and Bronwyn prove it--and of course your intelligent comments as well.

I am rotten at describing the internal and external conflict of my characters. I hope I have both in my books, though.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Yes, with six Banditas, you get egg roll, Diane! I always love it when my Bandita buddies come to play on blogs, though, because they have such amazingly perceptive comments to make. And laughing - Kate Walker actually hails from the north of England although I'm sure she'd be tickled pink to be an honorary Aussie. She had a wonderful time when she visited!

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

My laptop battery is about to die, but I wanted to pop on and say thanks to Anna for bringing her wisdom to the blog today and thank everyone for stopping by and adding to the discussion.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Hi, Anna! Love Bronwyn's explanation. Thanks for sharing that with us!

In my WIP, the female elf Adlia has never had true emotional connection with anyone until she meets Mark, a human. Her internal conflict is that she wants to share everything she is with him, but elves are supposed to keep themselves secret from humans. She keeps him at arm's length until they have to fight a villain that threatens both elves and humans. Finally she is forced to bond to Mark, which is good on one level because she can no longer hide what she is from him. But the connection comes with a curse -- the elves discover that bonding to a human can cause mental deterioration in elves, until the elf loses all sense of self and dies. So I guess that's one internal conflict that drives them apart, one external that drives them together, followed by one external that threatens to drive them apart through Adlia's eventual death.
Now forget everything you just heard, because that book comes out next year.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hi Trish! Thanks for inviting me to talk about conflict. We've had some amazing responses!

Esri, you're just a big tease. I want to read that book NOW!!! What deep, high stakes conflict. Exactly what I'm talking about. It literally is life or death for your heroine at the end, isn't it? Kewl bananas!

At 3:43 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Great analysis of conflict, La Campbell, on one of my favorite romance novels of all time. The balance of internal and external conflict in CTC is so beautifully drawn.

I am still struggling with this internal conflict thing.

In Lost in Love, Marcus and Addy have to marry because they fell into an underground cave and spend the night there together.

He has been wounded and scarred at Waterloo, jilted by Addy's sister, had a horrendous argument with his brother and then had the brother drop dead before they spoke again. He thought Addy had expected to marry the brother so he feels marrying her is his duty. Now he thinks she may be in love with a young viscount who is closer to her age. He feels he doesn't deserve to be happy, especially as he always habored these feelings of resentment towards his brother. You see his brother was gay and Marcus always knew the family name and title would fall to him. Everyone always thought Julius was perfect. Marcus thinks because he had fleeting thoughts of resentment he doesn't deserve to have Julius's title and position. He is determined not to have joy in his life because he doesn't deserve it. It is his penance for the guilt he feels over his brother's death.

Addy, the youngest of six children, the plain sister, has this burning desire to prove herself, to prove she can do something important in life. Her great aunt's money is the only reason she thinks a man would marry her. She has loved Marcus since the day she met him, but he fell for her sister. She made a childhood vow to the young viscount to help him with his horse rescue mission.

Now she is a duchess. Marcus wants her to behave as one. She wants to be her own person. To prove she is not just another debutante lost in the crowd. But she also wants her husband to fall hopelessly in love with her. And how is she going to tell him she is a horse thief?

The viscount wants to cause problems in the marriage because he doesn't like Marcus. Addy's sister wants to cause problems because she threw the duke over before she knew he was going to be a duke. The local magistrate is determined to find out who stole his horses and that happens to be Addy and the viscount.

Can someone PLEASE tell me what the internal and external conflicts are or if I have any at all or if I have too many??? I'm in the middle of revisions and I am losing my mind! Thank you!

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Pam, this story sounds great! And I can imagine you'll pull it off with real sparkle and wit and verve! Hmm, wouldn't mind some verve cliquot... Um, sorry, just a little meander there into the idea of French champagne!

I'm sure this isn't exhaustive and if anyone else has any comments, please weigh in. The forced marriage plot is external plot - what's keeping them together. His backstory and doubts are internal conflict. I'm not sure how her goal (to be recognised for her full worth) conflicts with his, unless the fact that she's in what she believes to be a loveless marriage feeds into her feeling of not being appreciated. The horse thief plot is external - although obviously her interest in the viscount feeds into his doubts about whether he can ever win her love. Am I close? Feel free to give the banana to someone else!

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Hi, Anna, that's the best concise explanation of conflict I've seen in a long time. Raising the stakes is hard, as Christine says, because one or the other of the characters generally has to turn out to be wrong, yet the can't come across as doofuses (doofi?), either.

The books I find most satisfying are the ones in which I can't see how they could possibly resolve these conflicts, but then they do. If I can guess at it along the way, the book isn't as absorbing.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Nancy: Boy, I so agree with you about what makes the most satisfying book -- a conflict that is well resolved but in a way I didn't see coming. Those are the BEST.

And I think you're right: "doofi"

At 7:38 PM, Blogger jo robertson said...

Sorry I'm so late commenting Anna. What a critical topic interesting discussion.

I agree that romance writers have a more difficult time with conflict (and characterization as well) because of the two main protagonists.

Conflict in fiction is tricky. As a person, I'd analyze, compromise, and settle a real-life conflict quite quickly. But in my fictional world I have to sustain both the internal and external conflicts without becoming boring or silly.

I LOVE analyzing other people's works, but HATE doing the same thing with my own, a common trait among writers, I imagine.

I tend to have heroes that have very specific internal conflicts. Malachi will never be involved with a virgin because his previous wife tricked him into marriage.

And heroines whose goals are more abstract. Emma wants to be an independent woman, completely free of reliance on a man.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Tiffany Kenzie said...

This is a great blog. And Anna, I loved CTC and the depth of your characters is awe inspiring.

With my current book (historical sans paranormal) I'm not really focusing on the hero (I hear the gasps now in the romance world--okay so I'm only in the beginning stages of the book)

The story is about my heroine Elena/Jinan and her internal and external struggle to grow as a person when she's been ripped from her old life, a wife and mother in early Victorian society-constantinople-hubby is an impoverished baron w/ gambling probs, sells her into slavery and she finds out her husband is killed and is then sold into a harem/whore setting.
I guess the external conflict would be keeping her son safe, he's just a babe, so she agrees to the terms she's offered. She occupies the 'masters' bed for a year than goes on the 'auction block' for lovers there after. Very wealthy ppl from around the world bid on the favours of the women there. Because she's English her master has allowed her wear a veil to conceal her identity (for her son's sake, she wants to send him off to school in England) then she's purchased by someone she'd once had a tendre for, before marrying. Which is okay, she plays out the part of the concubine--he knows her, but she doesn't know that, and won't know until their last night together--when his contract is up on her services... hmmm...I think I'm babbling.

There's lots of room for internal conflict, hopefully I can pull it off

It's more her journey about making best with the situation fate's handed her and growing as a person through those struggles.

Again, great blog, Anna!

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Wow, you go away for an hour and come back to find the place is on fire! Thanks, everyone, for taking the trouble to comment on this. I think conflict is such an essential, uh, conflict for most romance writers, I think we all have plenty to say on the subject!

Nancy, thanks for saying that about the blog. Conflict seriously is something I wrestle with - and when I first started, I loved my characters so much, I didn't want to upset them by making them suffer. WRONG MOVE! And I agree with Esri, the plural of doofus just has to be DOOFI!!! Actually I think in real life and in the best books, both characters need to be a little bit right and a little bit wrong. That saves you from the one person having to come across as the loser. To go back to CTC, Kylemore is wrong in how he tries to keep Verity (which he recognizes eventually after much head slapping from fate) but he's not wrong about the fact that only by surrendering to him will she unite the two halves of her soul. Verity is right to want her own life but she's wrong to think a barren existence devoid of passion or love will satisfy her deepest self.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Nancy and Esri, that's the strange dichotomy of a good romance novel, isn't it? You KNOW it's going to have a happy ending because, duh, it's a romance. But you're on the edge of your seat to find out how it all turns out nonetheless. It's a mystery to me why that works but when I've got a great book in my hands, it works every time.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Jo, my Bandita buddy, you're always welcome whether you turn up late or early! ;-) You make a good point - in real life, I really don't like conflict at all and I try to avoid it. But you can't write a compelling book without some form of compelling conflict to propel your characters to change.

Tiffany, always lovely to see you! Thanks for popping by. And THANK YOU for those lovely compliments. I think your story sounds awesome - like one of those big epic romances we used to get so many of and see fewer of now. Although I know people (including me!) miss the sweep and drama of those old-style romances. I think focusing on your heroine at this stage is fine - if it's her story, that's how you've got to tell it. I've noticed a lot of paranormal series do this - follow a strong heroine through various adventures. LOVE the Constantinople slave market/harem idea. So much possibility for conflict (including cross-cultural which is always such a good meaty source of drama!) Good luck with your story. Sounds great!

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Tiffany Kenzie said...

thanks for the reply Anna... it's not para... just plain old english lords...something very new for me. lol

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hiya Tiffany! Yeah, I got the non-para (what happened???!!!). I think what I didn't say as clearly as I should is that the idea of a heroine leading the plot over a book or several books is certainly not unheard of now, although it mainly seems to be in paras or romantic suspense rather than historicals. Actually your story made me think of an old but extremely popular in its day series called Angelique. They were quite saucy for the 70s!

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Tiffany Kenzie said...

LOL. Nothing happened, the muse is rather insistent about this story. These books will certainly be saucy for the new age :) And only one book. I!

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I want to do a try at doglady's (aka the Golden Heart finalist)question about internal conflict.

It seems to me the hero doesn't like who he thinks he is, and the heroine likes who she is, but thinks no one else will.

That's a FWIW.

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pam, when I get tangled up in knots over conflict (and I do, quite often!) sometimes it helps me to try to put together the pitch for the book. Take out the backstory, the subplots and side characters, and focus entirely on h/h. Sounds like you've got a great, complex story here, you just need to figure out what the most important stuff is!

Here's my thumbnail of your internal conflict:

Marcus: Doesn't believe he deserves joy in his life; he is determined to push away his young bride, because she represents all the happiness he is certain he should not have.

Addy: History has shown her no man wants the plain sister. She refuses to fall in love with Marcus because he represents every battle she's fought and lost before with her sisters.

That's just my take from what you wrote -- don't know if that helps at all, but it sounds like a fun, fabulous story! :-)

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Diane, I LIKE it!!! It's SOOO much easier to analyze someone else's work than our own, isn't it? ;-)

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, wow, will you do a pitch for my next effort? That was fantastic. Pam, what did you think?

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Noodlers, want to say I've had a really fun day here today - and I've learnt heaps. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed a comment. Conflict is one of THOSE subjects, isn't it? I'll pick the Amazon winner early tomorrow morning (US time).

At 10:39 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Wow! What a great idea it was to post my conflict about conflict here! I got three great analyses and I feel much better about my story now. I wanted it to be about how we see ourselves - usually wrong, how we think people see us - also usually wrong and how we really are. It usually takes someone who really loves us to see us as we really are and then to let us see ourselves through their eyes. Thanks so much, ladies!

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

And the winner is...

PAM! aka Doglady!


At 6:02 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Late to the party, as usual these days! :)

Pam, congratulations!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Gillian! Sorry you missed the fun. And we kept a chair for you all night right next to the bar! Cheers!

At 9:27 PM, Blogger doglady said...

There was a bar? Drats! Thank you so much, Anna C!! This was a great blog! And I won the door prize! YAY!!


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