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A Character’s Internal Struggle

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Anonymous asked: “I know that for a story there has to be internal and external conflict. Now, external conflict to normal stories come easy to me, while in romance stories I struggle a lot. What would you recommend?”

I wouldn’t limit internal conflict to just romance. Really it can be so much more than that. Essentially, I think of it as anything that involves emotional growth or development. 

One way this comes about is through developing a relationship. If you don’t know where to start, maybe begin by getting the characters in the same room together and make them talk. They don’t have to talk a lot, just enough to begin generating thoughts about each other, reflect back on their feelings. What does the protagonist think of when he thinks of his best friend? (Not who – what? Think in scenes and events, personalities put into conversation). 

Sometimes it is just going to be a matter of trying to reflect. Write slower scenes between the larger, faster-moving scenes, let those be places where you can let your characters chill out, be themselves, and share pieces of themselves with each other. It might be a time to work on repairing a bad relationship, develop a romance, or even just let the characters bond in a way that maybe they haven’t gotten to. 

There doesn’t always need to be internal conflict for there to be development or growth. Sometimes, especially in romance, internal conflict can take the shape of angst or nerves – whatever it is that holds them back from forming the relationship they want. Conflict doesn’t always need to be quite as dire and exacerbated as you think. What makes the character hesitate? Do they hesitate? What’s on their mind? If they don’t hesitate, do they make mistakes? Have they made many? What do they have to lose? What have they already lost? 

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