When plotting and writing a story–especially romance, there has to be conflict. External conflict. Internal conflict. Hopefully a mostly 50-50 split of the two. External conflict is easy. Those are things that happen mostly outside the Protaganists’ control, stuff that happens TO our hero/heroine or both. Internal conflicts are the emotions that create problems–things that happened in a character’s backstory or something they think or feel in regards to their life. We all carry it–girls who’ve been fat-shamed or tomboys, boys who weren’t “tough enough” according to the authority figure in their life, for example. We all carry baggage. As writers, we need to heap some of this baggage on our characters. The Universe chimed in with this:
There can only be a need for forgiveness, Silver, when first there is blame.
And there can only be blame, when first there is misunderstanding.
And often, Silver, misunderstandings arise for one of three reasons: not enough love, not enough sleep, or not enough chocolate.
And then there’s angst. “The Big Misunderstanding.” In most romances, this TBM could be rectified with a simple conversation held between two adults. This is the easy way out and editors and readers are on to writers who us it. I don’t have a problem with a TBM, so long as it gets resolved and there’s a lot of other internal conflict to counterbalance.
Take Sade Marguis, for instance. For those who aren’t familiar, Sade is a “special” FBI agent. She stars in my Penumbra Papers Urban Fantasy series, in which I’m currently writing a new addition. Her godfather is a master vampire and for awhile, her mother had convinced Oberon, king of the high Fae, that Sade was his. She has quite the backstory but her big deep-seated dark fear is that the people she cares about will abandon her. She has reasons for feeling–and worrying–about this and it rears it’s ugly head at the most inopportune times. She struggles with it. And yes, those misunderstandings might just come from not enough love, not enough sleep, or not enough chocolate. Also, in her case, not enough coffee. 😉
So that’s our craft lesson for today. Writers, make sure your characters are conflicted but make them work for it. And readers, how do you feel about The Big Misunderstanding? And how much is enough groveling when one or the other f*ck$ up big time? 😉