Another Minor Epiphany

Yes, I know, two in one week is ridiculous but after Friday’s lightbulb moment, I kind of had another. I wanted to use the whole action/reaction/consequence thing on my other WIPs but first I had to really concentrate on the essential conflict of the h&h. And it was as I was doing this that I had another realisation (cue drum roll, please):

Conflict doesn’t necessarily need to be based on bad things happening in the past!

Cool eh? Now, you guys may already know this and be thinking, ‘yeah, duh!’ but up till this point I have been giving my characters all manner of dead families/fiancees/babies or whatever tragedy is popular right now, purely so they would not want a relationship. The thing I suddenly got was that the point is not that the h&h don’t want a relationship at all, they just don’t want a relationship with a particular person! Why don’t they? Because that person threatens everything they believe up till that point in time. And it’s only when they come into contact with that person, that there is conflict. Conflict, as Michelle is always telling me, happens in the present not the past.

Clear as mud? For example, I’ve finally figured out the essential conflict of my Kate and Alex story: for Alex, home is where the heart is. For Kate heart is where the home is. Neither of them have any problem with this UNTIL they meet. And as soon as they meet, there is conflict because each challenges the other. In order to resolve this, Alex must learn that having roots isn’t a bad thing and Kate must learn that home isn’t necessarily embodied in one place.
Now, I had Alex having lost a fiancee etc, but really, in order for him to believe that home is where the heart is, I don’t need any of that. Maybe just the fact that he moved around a lot as a kid is enough. And maybe he was quite happy with this state of affairs. But it’s only when he comes into contact with Kate that he feels threatened about it. And voila, instant conflict.

So all in all I feel rather pleased with myself about this. Especially as I have now got real and believable conflicts for all my WIPs. Now all I have to do is plan the stories using action/reaction/consequence, completely rewrite all of them, and Robert’s your father’s brother. πŸ˜‰

Oh yeah, and I signed up for NaNo too. Need to write my next sub, rather imaginatively titled Cat and Sean. Anyone else?

22 thoughts on “Another Minor Epiphany”

  1. And so you should feel pleased with yourself, Jackie πŸ™‚

    Another wonderful post! I learn so much from your writing craft posts though I’m usually a lurker and don’t comment.

    I never thought of this either – I also had it stuck in my mind that internal conflict should be based on something bad.

    Good luck with all the rewriting.

    I’m doing NaNo too. My username is Angie Peters if you’d like to ‘friend’ me.

  2. That’s great news Jackie! You’ll blow your editor away with this one!

    I’m thrilled you’ve signed up for NaNo. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it too I just have to do the actual signing up part (it’s on the list… somewhere… :D) so I think you should get points for having any sort of title ready to go!

  3. Cheers, Angie! I don’t know why I didn’t see this before. I guess it’s just pieces of the puzzle falling into place.
    I’m Nano-ing via eHarlequin rather than the official site. But maybe I should sign on there too.

    Yay, Lacey! We’ll all Nano together.

    Rach, there are times when a depressing past can be a good thing. Makes the ending so much more ‘awwwww’. πŸ˜‰

  4. Great Post…can I borrow those light bulbs? Need a few of my own.

    Good Luck with NaNo – Not doing it myself. After I send this full ms and ship my presents entry off I’m gonna get my Emerald entry together for RWA then taking the rest of the year off…

  5. Great post on conflict. I think one thing with conflict is that as long as the conflict is real to your characters, it’s real. I may not get why my hero is so hung up on home, but if he does, and it’s real to him, it’s valid. It’s that way in real life. We don’t always ‘get’ everyone’s hang-ups, yet most of us have our own unique set of them. What was tragic or formative to one person may not be to another. Make any sense?

    And NaNo…signed up last year and got halfway through, then got my first revision letter and had to abandon my WIP for revisions on my sub. I’m halfway through a MS at the moment so I don’t really want to chuck it, or start over or anything so I’m doing an informal writing challenge that Heidi Betts is hosting on her blog.

    Best of luck to all you NaNoers. πŸ™‚

  6. LOL. I deleted that last comment because I was signed in as my husband and didn’t realize it. Thought some random man commenting on your blog might seem odd…

  7. A holiday sounds like a good idea, Janette! Lightbulbs? You’re on your way girl, you know it.

    Maisey, yeah. We may not get it but as long as the reader can see why the hero might think and believe things should be a certain way, then that’s all that matters.
    Sounds like you had a good reason to escape last year’s Nano! Maybe you’ll get another good one huh?
    Oh and random men commenting on the blog? Bring ’em on. πŸ˜‰

  8. Yeah, well, he’s a pretty cute random man if I say so myself. πŸ™‚

    A sale would be an nice distraction…still have the same submission in! Third round of revisions. And this one was a half rewrite. Yikes!

  9. Great post, Jackie. I think I remember reading on Bronwyn Jameson’s website, I think, about how she lists 3 things in common that bring them together and 3 things that bring out the conflict. When I read it the first time, I was surprised to learn how I never show anything that actually forms a bond between the H and h, all in the pursuit of dratted conflict.

  10. Maisey – third round of revisions? Wow, girl, that’s fantastic. Shall we be hearing sale news soon do you think? Crossing my fingers for you!

    Lorraine – cheers m’dear!

    Sri – yes, that’s so true. I sometimes forget why they even like each other! But I find that the conflict can often also be the reason they like each other, oddly enough. At least at a deeper level.

  11. Thanks for posting Jackie, you’re epiphanies are so helpful.

    “…the point is not that the h&h don’t want a relationship at all, they just don’t want a relationship with a particular person!”

    Kate Walker said something like this a while ago and I couldn’t help thinking how much more difficult it is to sort that out, than give them a cliched reason why they don’t want a relationship at all!

    Quite a lot of the romance novels I’ve read give a run-of-the-mill reason why the H doesn’t trust women in general (eg his ex cheated on him.) But I’m struggling to think of any stories that had specific reasons why this particular woman (the heroine) was the worst possible person for him to fall in love with.

    Anyone have any examples to share?

  12. I should read Kate’s book. But then, I’m not a person who finds writing books hugely helpful – it has to be applied to my own writing before I can see it.
    Anyway, an example of the hero falling for the worst possible woman is Nat Anderson’s Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire. The heroine is a heart patient who doesn’t want to be looked after and the hero is a doctor who wants to save her. She’s the worst person for him because of the heart condition/independence combo. He’s desperate to keep her safe but she won’t let him. And he’s the worst person for her because she’s trying to be independent and escape doctors! It’s a great read.

  13. Always appreciate the crossed fingers!! We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I managed to get it right this round?

    The Secret Millionaire book sounds great! I’ll have to check it out. I love the idea of her being the worst possible person for him, and vice versa, a fantastic slant on things.

  14. I know that feeling, Maisey. I hope you did better than I did with revisions. Some I did well but the last lot were a complete fail. Sigh.
    Next time…
    Yeah, do check out Nat’s book. It’s great.

  15. That’s my recurring nightmare, Jackie, that my ed calls and says ‘wow. you broke it.’ Doing a rewrite was so scary because it made me question my instincts completely and because I had to change so much it made me wonder if I was even in the right ballpark any more.

    Personally, I do think I improved it. But we’ll see if it was the right kind or enough. Been away from me for 16 wks, so I’m due for some kind of news…

  16. Hey, at least you changed it. I didn’t change mine enough which is why I failed. It’s hard eh? If you felt you improved it though, that’s a great sign.
    Hope you get some news soon!

  17. I completely deleted 25K words and just wrote new material from the middle on. But again, we shall see. It’s so hard to know! (which I know you know:-)

    Best of luck on your next submission, I think you’re really going to nail it.

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