“The course of true love never did run smooth …”

Well, if it did, writing a romance would be a pretty redundant exercise, wouldn’t it?

1134 copy

 

Boy meets girl …

they fancy each other …

they fall in love …

The End.

Not much worth reading there.

No, a romance needs conflict to make it real. It’s the characters’ differences and difficulties that draw us in, call on our empathy, and have us cheering the hero and heroine on … but it’s a fine line between genuine conflict and unnecessary bickering.

There’s nothing worse than reading a romance where two characters thoroughly dislike each other at first sight, spend the entire book arguing and calling each other names (with a few passionate clinches in between to remind the reader this is a romance) and then, right at the end, realize they’re madly in love with each other after all. Okay, I’m exaggerating here – but I have read the odd romance that wasn’t far off, and I had absolutely no sympathy with the characters or their plight.

I had to think long and hard about this when writing Holding Back, due for release at the end of April. In my first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter, the hero and heroine liked each other from the outset, and so it was mainly a question of them both overcoming their personal demons in order to consider a future together. In Holding Back, Daniel and Laura are at odds with each other from the start. Despite their mutual attraction, misunderstandings abound, and each of them is resistant to the idea of allowing themselves a romance … but I did my level best to make sure that when they argue, they have good reason.

Conflict in a romance must have a back story that the reader can understand and take to heart. Anything too shallow, and the reader will see it for what it is – a mere plot device. But if the author has spent time getting to know their characters so that they are three-dimensional rather than cardboard cut-out, he or she will have real insight into what makes them tick, so any conflict will come from the heart … and convey itself to the reader as such.

I talked in an earlier post about the importance of dialogue in a romance – see https://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-importance-of-dialogue/ Good, realistic dialogue is especially important when using it to show conflict in a relationship. The way the hero and heroine interact with each other in tense and stressful situations can indicate their own mind-set and show exactly where they are in the relationship without the need for endless pages of introspection.

True love run smooth? No thanks. If it did, I’d be out of a job!

 

 

 

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