December 17, 2009

Ever Changing Conflict

One of my dear CPs brought up a very interesting point yesterday as we were discussing the changes His Virgin Acquisition had to go through during revisions.

I was trying to explain how, during revisions and a half rewrite, the conflicts of the hero and heroine had changed. She said maybe the internal conflict had always been there, but certain things had shifted and brought it into the foreground. And I see exactly what she meant. The conflict was there, I simply had to emphasize elements that had already been alluded to in order to bring it out more.

In the first draft the conflict was mostly external, even though the H and h had their issues, but by the time I got to the rewrite of the last half I had decided to remove all the secondary characters cluttering up the end and focus on what inside of the hero and heroine would keep them apart. And that’s when I learned a lot more about them both!

For me, it was like a gradual uncovering, a peeling away of layers until I had simplified it and brought it down to what’s essential in a romance anyway: The hero and heroine. And then all that was between them was their fears and issues.

It’s been that way a bit with my WIP as I’ve been working on it. As I’ve gone they’ve really shown me which parts of their initial conflicts I came up with are even relevant, and that parts of their background I didn’t know were as important, were more defining to them than I’d initially realized.

What are your thoughts on the dreaded internal conflict/character development? Do you get your IC nailed during the plotting? Or is it a process?


13 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. LOVE the website. Very cool.IC is a gradual process for me too and I may not figure it out totally until mid-book. But sadly, I think I’m going to have to decide on it beforehand now. Not working for me finding it out as I go.

  2. Maisey, finally found your site. Thanks for posting it on the old blog. And can I say, the view is lovely! You’re such a professional!

    I took a wonderful class form a HMB author (medicals) and she starts with a VERY simple list of external conflict, internal conflict, and a one sentence premise that essentially is the heart of their conflict. And she writes her ENTIRE book from that. Which I think is brilliant, because you’re starting with the ever so important backbone of the book, the internal conflict, and writing out, so to speak. Instead of the way I’d been doing it which is starting on the outside and meandering for a while until I finally find what the heart of the story.


  3. Oops. What the heart of the story IS.

  4. Redrafting does bring moments of clarification, especially if you’ve had a chance to put that story aside for a few months before assessing it again. The more novels you write though, the more quickly you’ll come to see where the main conflicts are and cut straight to them, pushing IC to the fore and removing unnecessary EC. Though it’s always a good idea to have a healthy balance of internal and external conflicts, I suppose the standard advice is that if all you have keeping two people apart is external conflict, their mutual attraction would eventually find a way round that … so you need the internal conflicts to provide an extra, and far less easily surmountable, barrier to love.

    Having said all that, my own WIP (now in the pipeline at Richmond, though still very much open to changes) has potential areas of weakness that will need to be sorted out if they request a Full. And those weaknesses are nearly all connected to the external conflicts keeping them apart …

  5. I think it was really good that you decided to completely rewrite the second half. I know it’s easy for one to be so attached to his or her work, it’s difficult to move ahead and make progress, by revising where needed, as drastically as is needed. You are amazing! But I may be biased.
    Your Hubby

  6. I suppose what I’m saying is, you never stop learning. You never stop worrying at a book. FWIW.

  7. That’s very true, Jane! While it’s a bit more natural now, EC is always a lot easier, and if I’m not careful I can find myself headed toward a black moment and go…oh no! That’s not really internal though!! Presents/Modern and Modern Heat put a lot of emphasis on IC, so it’s a really big one to get down!

  8. Oh I’m going through all this right now. The revisions that Richmond asked for in my partial basically change the h&H completely. She said ‘these are strong and engaging characters, all you have to do is fix the setting and you’ll be there,’ but if feels like a LOT more than setting that is having to change!

  9. Rach, I have a friend dealing with that. She has to basically rewrite her full MS. They said we love the way they meet, and the characters, no change everything else. Not easy!

    Amy, that’s wonderful advice! I should most definitely employ that…

    Jackie, I know. It’s so hard. But much easier once you have something of a grasp on it. No kidding, I had no idea what EC/IC was when I wrote my first few MSs, so I really had to go back and add and alter on those! Some I still haven’t gone back to yet…

    Haven, I love you! But then, I’m probably biased too. Congrats on your compilation CD, BTW. I can’t wait to hear it!

    So, I’m going to have to figure this moderation thing. I changed the settings once and now they changed back…

  10. Maisey, love the new blog, very classy! Conflict is hard to get right, I struggle with it!

  11. Thank you, Sally! I like it too. đŸ™‚ My hubby made it for me.

    The thing about conflict is, it is really tough, but when you have it right it’s soooo much fun.

  12. Wow, Maisey! Your hubby’s post was the most ROMANTIC thing I’ve ever seen. Oh my God. What a keeper! No wonder you feel inspired to write romance!!


  13. Yep. It’s no wonder. He’s cute too! đŸ™‚

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