A Riddle Inside A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma

No, I’m not talking about Russia (thanks Winston Churchill), I’m talking about the wretchedness that is internal conflict. As you know (or should know by now!) internal conflict is where Modern Heat/Modern is at and you’d think, after a year of learning about this, I would have finally figured it out.


Witness my Kate’n’Alex story. I was writing happily away (the aftermath of a love scene, hot), my conflict sorted, getting into his introspection about how he cannot possibly want a relationship and then I come up, slap bang against the dreaded ‘why’. Okay, says I, he doesn’t want a relationship because he doesn’t like being tied down. Why? Because his family moved around a lot and he learned never to commit to anything or anyone because he knew he’d have to leave again. Yes, but that’s what he did as a kid – why does he continue this behaviour as an adult? Um…because he just wants to??

Grrrr. See what I mean? It’s all very well having angsty childhood stuff happening, but there has to be a reason for the character to keep acting that way as an adult. Which brings me to finally understanding why a parent cannot be the reason for someone’s internal conflict (yes, I’m slow). A parent can add to it, deepen it, but as an adult, would the character really continue to act the way they had as a child? Especially an alpha male?

So, for Alex, I have to have some reason why he continues to believe the lessons he learned in his childhood. Did he ever try thinking differently? What happened when he did?
I have another hero too who I thought had his conflict sorted. But no. He had a difficult childhood and had issues with responsibility, but again, the difficult childhood seems to be the excuse to for him to continue acting the same way as an adult. Again, I have to ask myself, did he ever try to rise above it? Did he succeed or fail? Why did he fail and how did he feel about his failure?

Argh! Seems you can never stop learning in this business…

In the meantime, after a depressed weekend where my writing and everything about it sucked, I succumbed and bought some NTAI shoes. Wedges as you can see since I cannot wear heels without seriously damaging my feet.
Yes, they were ridiculously expensive. Yes, they are totally impractical. Yes, they made me stop thinking about my sub for, oh, about five minutes. πŸ™‚

So, anyone else got a handle on internal conflict? What about shoes?

16 thoughts on “A Riddle Inside A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma”

  1. Shoes? You really know how to divert one from the ‘hush, I’m trying to write’ moment πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for getting me thinking about IC.
    I’ve been trying to avoid it like the proverbial plague. How far can a misunderstanding go? I’ve been asking myself. Solution: Get up to make a cup of tea – I’m not kidding, my heroine’s back was to the wall, and that’s the best she could come up with. However, it worked cos the H/h set up another conflict through dialogue.

    Internal Conflict. For whatever my humble opinion might be worth…
    Instead of going deeper into the why he won’t/can’t…What if the hero wakes up to himself and realises there might be something in this relationship business – everyone seems to be doing it, right?

    And what if, when he’s charging ahead with his new found courage to face his commitment phobia, he discovers the heroine has other ideas. Perhaps she’s putting a brave front, declaring she’s not into settling down – only as a means to keep the hero for as long as she can – under his no relationship terms – self sacrificing creature that she is.

    As for a parent influencing an Alpha’s obsessive compulsion to avoid relationships, maybe we only need to know he’s against relationships and only later… through dialogue/confrontation/revelation, discover (his introspection) that he’s been an idiot to let his past dictate his future – thereby showing the hero’s growth moment. Then throw the spanner in the works by having the heroine spoil this for him. So the onus will be on him to convince her… Make him work for something he was dead set against in the beginning.

    Then again, have you remembered to KISS?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s worth doing the unexpected, within character (although characters evolve).

    OOPS, I got carried away!

  2. LOVE the shoes!
    Another interesting blog Jackie. You make a great point. I think the hero/heroine need to do something as an adult to confirm their pattern of behaviour.
    Off to think AGAIN about my IC… It never ends…

  3. As always, great post Jackie. Hmmm my current hero has an adult stemmed ic, but come to think of it, all the others have childhood related issues…Can def see you’re point.

    Shoes? Did someone say shoes? Must admit – don’t own as many as i should – my NTAI therapy tends to be pedi’s, which are I guess, feet related.

    PS – those wedges look great!

  4. Good points, Veronica. As to digging deeper, well, that’s what I like to do with my characters (did I mention I like to torture them??).
    Yes, as it happens, the hero does decide he wants a relationship in this story. But if he’s only doing it because everyone else is, how is that a change for him? How is that painful and difficult? Why is he commitment phobic? And why does he decide to overcome it? The characters have to risk something, overcome something, change, otherwise there isn’t any emotional connection. And when you’re dealing with alphas, he has to have very strong reasons for not wanting a relationship otherwise he’ll just go in there and get it! πŸ™‚

    The problem with the alpha being an idiot because his parent influencing his decision not to commit, is that it doesn’t make him alpha. Believe me, I had a ms rejected due to this very thing. Yes, his past is dictating his future but he has to have a good reason for this because this is a conscious decision. So in order to have him make this decision, the reasons have to be powerful ones.

    The unexpected is always good, as long as there is motivation behind it. My hero does so something unexpected (at least, the heroine thinks so) but only because of an incident in his past that causes him to make a different decision this time. If I didn’t have that past, then why would he act in the way he does?

    Boy, and you thought you had a long post! πŸ™‚

    Becca, thanks re the shoes. I like them too. On layby at the moment though which means I have to save up for the rest.

    Thanks Janette. I like ’em. Yeah, childhood issues are a great start I reckon. Thing with my heroes is that they all seem to have problems with their mothers. Lol!

  5. First thing first – LURVE the shoes!!!

    SEcondly – seconding Becca, another fabulous and insightful post. I’m hoping that my current characters have things in their adult lives that are causing their ‘hang-ups’ but I’ve realised often a belief starts in childhood and it reinforced by something that happened to them in adulthood – like you said.

    My current hero was deserted by his mother (although I’m currently debating whether she died or simply left him). This haunted him for year and when he finally decided to risk becoming attached and loving someone, she and their child died while she was pregnant. yep – I’m torturing him well and good.

    And JAnette – I love the idea of a NTAI ped! Soon as I sub my next mss, I’m treating myself to one πŸ™‚


  6. Cheers re the shoes, Rach and woah, talk about torturing your poor hero! Like it. I’m thinking he’s got major abandonment issues here – first his mother then his wife and child… Ooooh, can’t wait to see how he gets over that!

  7. I know how you feel, I keep thinking I’ve got a handle on something only to find I’m doing it yet again – namely making my characters act to fit my plot when left to their own devices they probably wouldn’t…

    Nice shoes, much less complicated…

  8. I am chiming in late (this is getting to be a habit). You bought those shoes to give to me right? You’ll just send them over right? RIGHT??? Hmm maybe my shoe addiction is getting a teeny bit out of control…

    Want to go shoe shopping with me?

  9. Joining in even later than Lacey – sorry (am still trying to get my comp chapter written).

    Have tied myself in knots over conflict. And is conflict more important than sexual tension? Or is one dependant on the other?

    Love and adore those shoes, Jackie.


  10. Suzanne, my thoughts would be that conflict is what drives the book and the plot so it’s very important. You need sexual tension too though because this is a romance and high sexual tension is part and parcel of Modern/Modern Heat. Sexual tension can also be a facet of the conflict too (the whole ‘I know I shouldn’t want you but I do’ thing). You need both but in order for the story to go somewhere, conflict is the more important.

  11. Tell me about it! The problem with sexual tension is that if you’re not careful, that can stand in for conflict and once your h&h get it on and the sexual tension is resolved, what do you do then? Where does the story go?
    I try and work to the rule that when the h&h do get it on, sex only complicates things. There’s nothing worse than when the h&h sleep together and everything is suddenly miraculously resolved.

    Romance writing ain’t for sissies eh?

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