Publish date:

Defining Conflict: What Conflict Is and Isn't in Writing a Romance Novel

Are you thinking of writing a romance novel or in the planning stages of writing one? Learn what conflict is and how to use it in your romance novel. Today's tip of the day comes from On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels.

conflict romance novel | what is conflict

What Is Conflict?

Conflict is the difficulty between the hero and heroine that threatens to keep
them from getting together. What causes the hero and heroine to be at odds with each other? What prevents them from being too comfortable? What do they disagree about? What do the hero and heroine have at stake? Why is this difficulty so important to each of them? Why is it important to the readers?

What Conflict Is Not

Conflict is not:

  • Fighting, arguing, or disagreeing. Sometimes conflict is expressed in heated discussions or shouting matches, but two people can be locked in conflict without ever raising their voices, and they can also bicker incessantly without ever addressing an important issue.
  • A delay. An event that simply delays a hero’s or heroine’s progress toward a goal is only an incident. If another character sidetracks the heroine to talk about an unrelated problem, and this discussion keeps her from confronting the hero, that’s not conflict.
  • Failure to communicate. Misunderstanding each other, making wrong assumptions, jumping to conclusions, or wrongly judging one another are not illustrations of conflict, but of the hero and heroine’s inability to make themselves clear.
  • The trouble-causing interference of another person. If the meddling of another person causes problems, the main characters can appear too passive to take charge of their own lives or stand up for themselves.
  • A main character’s unwillingness to admit that the other person is attractive. Though romance characters attempt to fight off their attraction, conflict lies in the underlying reasons why it seems inappropriate or unwise to fall in love with this person.

Today's excerpt is from On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels. If you enjoyed this tip, buy this book and learn:

  • The difference between a true romance novel and a novel that includes a love story
  • The different types of romance novels
  • General research strategies to help you decide what your characters can and can't do and what events the story will involve
  • The four crucial basics that make up a romance novel
  • How to start your story
  • When and how to write love scenes
  • Strategies and tips for marketing your romance novel

Buy On Writing Romance Novel now!

A Few Tips for Writing Personal Essays

A Few Tips for Writing Personal Essays

Here are a few tips for writing personal essays from the Publishing Insights column of the March/April 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Dispel vs. Expel (Grammar Rules)

Dispel vs. Expel (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between dispel and expel with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Laura Davis: On the Story That Begged To Be Told

Laura Davis: On the Story That Begged To Be Told

Author and writing instructor Laura Davis discusses the process of starting, stopping, and starting again with her new memoir, The Burning Light of Two Stars.

From Our Readers

Which Writer or Work Made You Think About Point of View in a Different Way and Why?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: Which writer or work made you think about point of view in a different way and why? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

4 Tips on Research for Writing Novels and Stories Beyond Getting the Facts Right

4 Tips on Research for Writing Novels and Stories Beyond Getting the Facts Right

The kind of research you do can make or break your story's authenticity. Author Blake Sanz offers 4 tips on research for your novels and stories beyond getting the facts right.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Annual Writing Competition Early-Bird Deadline, Seven WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce the Annual Writing Competition early-bird deadline, seven WDU courses starting this week, and more!

3 Big Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Book Like a Pro

3 Big Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Book Like a Pro

Small but mighty, picture books help raise children into lifelong readers. Children's book author Diana Murray offers 3 big tips for writing a picture book like a pro.

5 Things I Learned About Writing From Watching Soap Operas

5 Things I Learned About Writing From Watching Soap Operas

Lessons in writing can come from various forms of art or entertainment. Author Alverne Ball shares 5 things he learned about writing from watching soap operas.

From Script

Writing from an Intimate Point of View and Adding Essential Elements to Solidify Your Screenplay (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, TV writer Kate Sargeant shares a first-hand look on her new digital series that was a life-changing experience. Plus an interview with filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, a new installment from ‘Ask the Coach’ and more!