One of the most difficult things to grasp in romance writing and the most difficult to handle properly when the concept has been gripped tightly is, in my opinion, a good gut wrenching conflict between the hero and heroine. One that provides the editor’s favourite -- “emotional punch.”
Lots of articles address this subject, lots of examples are given and all of them are blindingly clear. “Aah,” I think. “That’s what they mean.” But when it comes to actually thinking up this gut-wrencher it’s not so easy.
The traditional cliché is one or both damaged people staggering from a rotten prior relationship, vowing never to love again, never to trust a man/woman again, never ever, ever . . . Or a widowed person vowing a love like the lost one will never come again . . .
Realistically, how many people actually do act that way? Sure, for a few months they’ll be bitter and hurt or if a loved one has been lost, truly grieving for a certain time. But how many friends or you yourself have clung to that for more than a year? Most of us get over it, straighten up and get on with life. Of course we make mistakes and choose wisely or unwisely depending on a host of things, but people do fall in love again, date and remarry and most aren’t scarred for life unless there’s something seriously wrong in the brain department. Who wants a heroine/hero like that?
So for our characters we need something stronger and deeper. But what? We need something primal we can all identify with, a universal feeling.
For me, children provide a great source of tension, so do family relationships. We all know what it’s like to be a child and many of us know what it’s like to be a parent or have strong views on the subject. The majority of us have a deep desire to have children. Some don’t. What if two people with those diametrically opposite views on something so fundamental fall in love? What if one already has children and finds it hard to share the upbringing with someone who has a polar opposite approach to childrearing? What if the children themselves are the problem?
I love exploring family dynamics and my stories always tend to veer back to that area in some form or another.
What tensions and conflicts provide the emotional punch for you?