Wednesday, September 28, 2016

20 Ways to Make Your Character: Have Outer Conflict in a Romance

In writing, it's said that a character needs to have an inner and outer conflict.  So, for example, you might have a lawyer who has a huge trial that is doomed to fail.  That's the outer conflict, the one that most people would see.  What they don't see is that he has a personal problem that he's battling.  Maybe he's an alcoholic or he's battling a broken heart, or even cancer.  It's what he's hiding from others.  John Grisham does this extremely well in some of his books, for example.

So first, I want to talk about the outer conflict.  Outer conflict is most of what the story is about--the main conflict.

From, outer conflict is defined as:

external conflict

    struggle between a literary or dramatic character and an outside force such as nature or another character, which drives the dramatic action of the plot:
    external conflict between Macbeth and Macduff.
    struggle between a person and an outside force:
    external conflict between parents and children.

    And, to contrast, the inner conflict is defined as:

    internal conflict

    psychological struggle within the mind of a literary or dramatic character, the resolution of which creates the plot's suspense:
    Hamlet's inaction is caused by internal conflict.
    mental struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses.

    Many times, it's a physical struggle.  For romances, it's about the problems between the two love interests.  I was told, when I first started writing, that the outer conflict should indicate two opposing sides in the love interests.  For example, the heroine might be a peace lover.  The hero, a soldier.  That type of thing.

    Since I write romances, here are 20 outer conflicts for your characters to encounter.  I've used all of these in my books.

    Just know that the characters HAVE to work together somehow, for a common goal.  If you split the couple up, there's no romance there.  They have to stick together.

    1. Disagree on fundamental values--politics, religion, morals
    2. Families don't agree
    3. Waiting for something to happen before they can get involved
    4. Revenge from an outside force
    5. One character trying to help the other even though they don't want help
    6. Forced to work with the 'enemy.'
    7. Arguing neighbors 
    8. One character has something the other character wants--and will stop at nothing to get it
    9. Client with attitude
    10. Doctor and unwilling patient
    11. Tyrant boss and employee 
    12. One character saving another from doom or death
    13. Religious beliefs, angry church people
    14. Sheriff and criminal
    15. Two characters stuck together to get out of a predicament (like lost in the woods)
    16. Giving condolences on a family member who has died...and the recipient is angry about it.
    17. Someone giving aid to a suicidal character 
    18. Saving a character from bullies
    19. Telling a character about their heritage when they didn't know it before
    20. Getting information to stop someone else
    It's not easy to come up with new conflicts, but they all come down to a problem against an outside force of some kind.  It can also be easy to mix up external and internal conflicts, but if you think of it as internal as a problem within just one person's mind and external as everything else, that might help.

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

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