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Romantic Conflict 101 #WW

Romantic Conflict 101 #WW

“What is the hero’s romantic conflict?”

“I don’t see how this problem will keep the couple apart for an entire book.”

“This could be cleared up with a simple conversation.”

If you write romance novels, you may have heard the above a time or two from professionals or critique partners. I know I have! It’s one thing to get the feedback, but it’s another thing to understand it. So today we’re talking about romantic conflict–what it is, what it isn’t and how to sustain it for an entire novel. Buckle up!


Romantic Conflict 101 #WW



This isn’t a formal definition, but it’s the way I define it.

Romantic conflict is what keeps the hero and heroine from accepting they love each other and living happily ever after. Both of them have their own individual internal conflicts preventing them from embracing love. External circumstances plus their internal conflicts combine to  produce the romantic conflict.

Example: From Her Small-Town Romance

Hero’s internal conflict: His ex-wife cheated on him and the whole town knew about it. He’s ashamed about the divorce and won’t date or marry again.

Heroine’s internal conflict: She’s never been good enough for her parents or the guys she’s dated. She wants roots, including marriage and a family.

External circumstances: He’s secretly applied for a job as an outdoor guide in another country. She moved to Lake Endwell to create a life there and overcome her phobia of the woods. He’s helping her get used to the forest and feels responsible for her since she’s all alone. She’s helping him train his St. Bernard because she wants to repay him. She doesn’t understand why he can’t see what an amazing man he is. He doesn’t understand why she can’t see what an amazing woman she is. And through all this, he’s not going to date because it wouldn’t be fair to her. And she’s not interested in someone who won’t be around to plant those roots with her. All these factors combine to create the romantic conflict.



It isn’t a simple problem that can easily be solved.

It isn’t one-sided. Both the hero and heroine must have compelling reasons for not being open to an emotional love relationship.

It isn’t based on a misunderstanding.

It isn’t solely based on external circumstances.

It isn’t characters arguing.

It isn’t sexual tension.



Really know and understand your main characters’ pasts.

Why are they unwilling to have a serious relationship with each other? It’s fine to start out with “He got divorced and won’t date again because marriage isn’t for him,” but you’ll have to take it further. Why did the divorce make him decide never to marry? And why won’t he at least date? Take time to brainstorm what happened and how it affected him. He’s a man who believes marriage is forever. When his wife cheated on him, it made him feel inferior. He also was ashamed that the entire town knew about it. He thinks dating leads to feelings and feelings lead to love and love leads to marriage and marriage leads to being humiliated and destroyed. When you understand this about him, you’ll be able to throw him in situations that force him to confront these issues.

Think hills, not plains.

For characters to grow, they need to have ups and downs. They have to do things that scare them on an emotional level. And sometimes they will win but another emotional conflict will hit them, making them doubt themselves all over again. Romantic conflict isn’t static. It starts at one point for each character and, as the story progresses, gets more complex until both must confront their issues and make a choice–does she embrace love? Or does she let her fears/beliefs define her?

The Black Moment will force each character to confront his or her reasons for avoiding love.

As the story progresses, the reader should be thinking they’re perfect for each other but how in the world will they ever realize it? The Black Moment is also called All is Lost for a reason. This is the point in the story where the hero and heroine love each other but one or both are unwilling to take a chance on a serious relationship. The result is complete emotional devastation for each of them. The aftereffects of the black moment force both characters to OVERCOME their personal internal conflicts and commit to loving each other.


The hero and heroine are coming across as petulant third graders rather than mature adults (or teens if YA).

The hero and heroine could declare their love and get engaged in chapter four and the book wouldn’t change much. Obviously, I’m not talking about a fake engagement here!

Only the heroine has a reason not to fall in love, and the hero seems smitten with her throughout most of the book.

The only things keeping the characters apart are a series of misunderstandings.


I’m sure there are plenty of romantic conflict points I missed in this post. If you read or write romance novels, I’d love to hear your pet peeves regarding what keeps characters from falling in love instantly. Please leave a comment!

*Alert* I will be guest blogging over at Inspired by Life and Fiction on Friday, October 27. I’m talking about pets and giving away a fun prize, including a copy of my latest release, The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride. I’d love for you to stop by!  For easy reference, come back Friday and click HERE for their blog.

Cover Reveal! Christmas Collection

I’m so excited to be part of a novella anthology with three other Love Inspired authors! Our novella collection, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, will be available in November. I’ll keep you posted with more info as soon as I get it!

In the meantime, here’s the cover!

I'll be home for Christmas collection


I love it so much! My novella, Sugarplums and Second Chances, is going to excite a lot of you! Guess who the hero is?

Chase McGill!!

Yes, Chase, the former NFL star serving time in prison, is in Lake Endwell, raising Wyatt! Aaahhh!! You’ll remember Chase and Wyatt from Hometown Hero’s Redemption. Expect to see a few other cameos from Lake Endwell residents–ahem, Sheffields!–too!

On another note, I’m part of a massive giveaway this week. If you enjoy sweet romances, click the link below to be entered to win all the books shown! What’s not to love about that?


Win up to 27+ Sweet Romance eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!
(27+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)


Who has bought and eaten Halloween candy already? (I think we all know I did…)

Have a terrific day!

Writing Roundup: October 11

Writing Roundup October 11, 2017


Writing Roundup October 11, 2017


I’ve read several great blog posts about writing lately. I’m not always great about reading blogs, but when I do, I’m amazed at the timely content. I figured you’d be interested in them, too, so I’m sharing them here!

Amy Green, fiction publicist at Bethany House Publishers, was a guest on Seekerville Monday. She shares her “Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About.” While all ten are terrific, I was drawn to Writing in Community and Time Management. Both are dear to my heart. I’ve linked the full article below. And stop by Seekerville all of October for chances to win prizes. They’re celebrating ten years of blogging with a month-long party! (Happy birthday, Seekerville!)

“Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About” by Amy Green via Seekerville


Novelist Peter Leavell discusses how to find an adoring audience in “Gather a Flock” at Seriously Write. It’s a clever, true post, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. The link is below!

“Gather a Flock” by Peter Leavell via Seriously Write


And, last but not least, author Jody Hedlund shows how reviews–good AND bad–are helpful in “Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive,” at Inspired by Life and Fiction. I especially like Jody’s points about how readers need reliable reviews and how feedback keeps authors from growing complacent.

“Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive” by Jody Hedlund via Inspired by Life and Fiction



Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels

Yesterday, I wrote “Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels” for Ladies of Love Inspired. Pop on over for a few book recommendations!

Do you read blogs? Have a favorite? Please share in the comments!

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