Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Conflict


Congratulations to "Kai", the winner of Ellis's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated! 

What’s the hardest single element to write in romance? For me, it’s internal conflict. Flying to the moon is easier than making it original. But it’s necessary to sell to an agent or editor. So often I read stories, otherwise good with a fresh treatment, but the internal conflict seems forced or contrived. However, lack of internal conflict equals rejection by agents and publishers. So we struggle to come up with some inner torment to keep the hero and heroine apart through most of the story.

The hero had his heart broken by some uncaring witch and now doesn’t trust any woman. Same for the heroine. Sometimes their hearts were broken by death. Or maybe damaged by childhood trauma. Still, the result is the same. The question is, can they open up and allow themselves to love/trust again?

Well, yes, of course they can, or we wouldn’t have a romantic story to read. So in a way, it’s predictable. It’s the characters, the situation, and the writing that make it unique. That’s what draws me in and makes me believe in the story. But for me, it’s all enhanced by external conflict, by danger and suspense. Impending doom takes the focus off the internal conflict. Who cares if he left you ten years ago if he’s here to save you from death now? Threats of disaster tend to bring people together, and they must trust each other to survive. In those dark moments their true character and feelings are revealed.  That’s why I read and write romantic suspense. I like the excitement and sense of danger.

I’m giving away a copy of Time of Death or Cold Comfort—your choice.

Because it’s almost Christmas, I’m including this excerpt from Cold Comfort. Following a vicious attack, Claire tries to hire Riley to investigate. He’d prefer to ignore her but owes the friend who recommended him, so he agrees to at least see her. In this scene, she’s leaving Mistletoe, her fairy-tale Christmas shop, for the day, but Riley notices a stranger watching.

* * *
Standing in a circle of light from a bare bulb over Mistletoe's rear door, Claire Spencer twisted the key in the lock, then dropped it into her bag. She turned in Riley's direction, moving fast. Headlights appeared at the far end of the alley. Claire stepped from behind a Dumpster. With a roar of the engine, the car leapt forward.
"Look out! Behind you!" Riley sprinted toward her.
She glanced over her shoulder into the headlights of the speeding car. To Riley's eyes, her silhouetted figure appeared to rotate in slow motion against a backdrop of blinding light. He ran harder.
Three more yards.
He grabbed her in a flying tackle an instant before the car reached them. His momentum carried them out of the car's path and between a pair of overflowing trash bins. Twisting as they went down, he took the brunt of the fall and landed rolling, cradling her head against his chest. The car skidded around the corner, tires squealing. He didn't see the license plate but figured the guy stole it anyway. Bastard.
Carefully removing his arm from beneath her head, he rolled off the woman he'd just flattened. Levering himself to his feet, he said, "Okay, lady, I'll take your case."

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Dec. 12th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

19 comments:

  1. I appreciate romantic suspense for all the reasons you have mentioned. Just the right bit of inner conflict is part of the fun. In fact, you've just made me realize that inner conflict is what life is all about, too. Folks who are immediately sure about everything are bores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! For me, the inner conflict adds to the suspense as long as I find it believable. You're right about folks who never have doubts--boring or maybe too dumb to imagine what could go wrong.

      Delete
  2. I love romantic suspense, it makes the romance better when there is a litte suspense...it keeps things moving more and on the edge of your seat...love it. Would love to win one of your books as you are new to me. So my choice would be the first book of the 2 you offer, thanks and Happy Holidays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, if it's too easy and the characters don't have to work for their HEA, it's not interesting. I enjoy the suspense, the ones that keep me reading when I should be going to sleep.

      Delete
  3. Internal conflict is a challenge for a lot of writers. The main character(s) has/have to change by the end of the story and the conflict is part of that change. Also, how they resolve it.

    For instance I had a bit of romantic conflict in my last book. My heroine had to resolve issues haunting her for two months in order for her to fully involve herself with the new boyfriend.

    And you're right, external conflict diverts from the internal, however, some of the external may play a key role to resolving the internal.

    slb@mahaska.org

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stephen, complicated, isn't it? But the way we work out the problems and weave the internal and external is what makes each story unique. And my, my! The issues we use to torture our poor characters! But it makes good reading. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love all types of novels and books. I would absolutely love to win one of yours!
    Jencapps2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. i am an avid reader always checking out new books i have that many that i consider keepers that i had to go digital with a kindle now i don't even have to wait for the postman.i would love to read one o f your books i like the sound of the above one i will be looking out for your name from now on













    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jennifer and Trish. I loved writing them, laughing and sometimes shedding a few tears, occasionally wanting to pull my hair out--characters don't always cooperate. I hope you'll enjoy them.

      Delete
  7. Nice post and excerpt.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm so happy Riley came to his senses and takes the case.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice little tidbit from Cold Comfort... I am making note to look for your books... liking what you have shared.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Internal conflict is half the story. There wouldn't be a story without internal conflict. It does also make the story interesting.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Loved Cold Comfort - will Time Of Death be available for the Nook?

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. It's only on Amazon, but I could send you a pdf. Can you send it to your Nook and have them convert it to format and send it back to your Nook?

      Delete
  12. Romantic suspense isy favorite genre. Tension, action, and HEA. What's not to love. I have not read any of your books, but after checking them out, just what I like. This is whu I LOVE this blog. Trishleroy49 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Ellis,
    I like your titles & your covers. Please enter me in your draw. I am always looking for "conflict" (for my books that is!)
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the great post and congrats on the new release! I have to agree w/ all your points ... that's exactly why I read RS :)

    efender1(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  15. In my opinion, it is the internal struggle that makes a story believable. We all struggle with our doubts and insecurities, but a good romantic suspense makes us believe in the happy endings that come despite those doubts. I will definitely look up your books!

    ReplyDelete