8/23/09

The Ultimate Ride


"I've always loved the emotional conflict of a well crafted story."

Staying true to that statement I decided to go on a search through my files on writing--a trip to review and maybe even find out something that I missed before. We all know that Harlequin is really big on character driven conflict with lots of hook. Since I love roller coasters too, I really love this little tidbit I found on conflict and emotion.

Sharing is what I do, so following is the article from my own writing archives. It never hurts to review!


Feel the Emotion and Experience the Conflict

By Bryony Green and Kimberley Young
Editors at Harlequin Romance

You're about to get on a roller coaster. One of those scary ones that goes really high — then really fast…. This is what we're looking for in Harlequin Romance manuscripts: an emotional roller coaster that pulls you with it, takes you on the romantic ride of your life and leaves your heart thumping in your chest with a rush of excitement!

If you're writing the romance, you're the roller-coaster builder. How will you construct such a fantastic ride? It's not easy — that's for sure.

Characters and a really strong emotional conflict are your first building blocks; in romance they are fundamentally interlinked, because you must find a really strong, character-driven reason why the hero and heroine can't get together. A reason that is believable, compelling and seems utterly irresolvable.

Where to look for such a reason? Start with your characters. Those two people sitting next to each other on the roller coaster. Forced together for the entire ride; dealing with the experience in different ways. Build them into real people that you know and love. How have they become the people they are today? What were their parents and brothers and sisters, and even past lovers, like? What are their personalities, their characteristics, their education, values and beliefs?


Does any of this history inspire strong conflict? The central conflict changes, grows and develops as the story goes on — that's all part of the ride!

Once you've developed these building blocks you need to structure your story. It's essential to focus on the key scenes that move the story forward. Go for dramatic or emotional cliff-hangers that leave your readers compelled to keep reading — to stay on that roller coaster.

Introspection should be interspersed in small bite-sized chunks with incisive dialogue and action to keep the pace fast and even. Introspection is like the actual nuts and bolts of the roller coaster, absolutely vital to the story to make the characters' actions make sense, but the person on the ride (the reader) shouldn't have to give it a second thought.

Once you have the nuts and bolts in place, you have to take the hero and heroine on that journey — the twists and turns, the highs and lows of the roller coaster. Remember, once your characters get on the ride they can't get off — the emotional conflict should affect them, even if they express their emotions in very different ways.

Make sure you develop the emotional capacity of every scene, for this will develop your characters and deepen the bond between them. And like the very highest peak of a roller coaster, an emotional climax is vital to the story — where all the threads of the conflict are on the verge of being resolved.


This ensures that both readers and our protagonists are left gripped to the edges of their seats as they begin that oh-so-fast, exciting downhill stretch toward the happy ending — and then to that "ahhh" satisfaction that leaves everyone on a romantic high.

9 comments:

Helen Hardt said...

Great article, Kaye -- thanks for sharing it!

Debs said...

Great post, thanks. It's just what I needed to read right now too.

Shelley Munro said...

Excellent article, Kaye. :)

Cari Quinn said...

Thanks, Kaye! Evoking emotion is what writing is all about. :)

Liz Fielding said...

Whew! That's what I'm supposed to be doing... No pressure, then :)

Thanks for sharing, Kaye.

Suzanne Jones said...

Fantastic advice, Kaye. And couldn't have come at a better time, I'm about to start on a new story and will do my best to incorportate your tips.

X

Christina Phillips said...

Love that article, Kaye! thanks for sharing!

Sarah Simas said...

Hi Kaye!

I enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for posting it!!

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Enjoyed your article Kaye. Emotional responses in our characters, bringing them alive, making them real. I'm trying. lol... :)