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5 Tips to Write Awesome Romantic Conflict Scenes

on August 7, 2014

Conflict is the essence of fiction–it drives stories forward and keeps readers turning the pages and coming back for more. When I took an advanced level writing course a few years ago, I was told to really torture my characters by using internal and external conflict; to this day, I torture my characters as much as possible, infusing my books with tension and drama. Of course, conflict is a balance like anything else, and no author wants his or her book to read like one big brawl…but some artfully-placed conflict interspersed with moments of calmness is a good thing.

Romantic conflict is my favorite kind to write. When passions are high, discussions become heated. Romantic conflict is especially fun in YA fiction, since the emotions and thoughts of teens are so amplified and volatile anyway. I usually write romantic conflict from the point of view of one character, but in my new series, “Amish Couples,” I’ve been showing both sides of the argument as I alternate chapters between the male and female point of view. This has been an amazing exercise, and I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it yet!

Romantic conflict is so much fun to write! Image courtesy of changeagentcareers.com

Romantic conflict is so much fun to write! Image courtesy of changeagentcareers.com

Here are some tips to write scintillating romantic conflict. I hope they help you next time you need to write an awesome scene!

  1. Know the stakes – In order to create believable romantic conflict, you must be aware of what’s at stake for each character. Why is this conflict so important to each character, and what does he or she have to lose that makes the cause worth fighting for?
  2. Understand what motivates each character – Character motivation goes hand-in-hand with knowing the stakes. In order to write a believable argument scene, you need to know the driving force behind a character’s (strongly held) opinion. Is the character motivated by ambition, pride, love, fear, or money? Ask yourself these questions about each character involved in the dispute, and the scene will flow smoothly and believably.
  3. Use dialogue – Dialogue is the perfect literary device to convey romantic conflict, since there’s just so much you can do with it. For example, if a character is agitated, increase the tempo of his or her speech. Dialogue is also a great way to convey each character’s personality quirks. Does a character morph back into the accent of his / her homeland when angry? Does a character stutter and stammer? Or does a character seem to turn to ice, shutting down his / her emotions and using cool or even sarcastic retorts? Infuse these elements into your dialogue, and you’ll have a sizzling “fight scene” that seems to jump off the page.
  4. Body language says so much – Just like dialogue, body language and physical description can bring a romantic conflict scene to life. How does each character physically respond to the conflict? Strive to exceed the usual red face or crossed arms and go a step further. Oddly enough, I found myself inspired to incorporate more animated body language into my romantic conflict scenes after I read a pop-psychology book about analyzing people’s body language in the workplace and at networking events.
  5. Lighten it up with humor – One thing you don’t want is for your romantic conflict scene to morph into pure emo, becoming dark and even hateful. To prevent this, sprinkle in some humor. One of my favorite characters to include in fight scenes is Mercy, because she’s often so selfish that it’s funny. Create a character like that, and romantic conflict scenes will never get so heavy that they weigh down your book, dragging it into a pit of despair. Readers should always have hope that everything will pan out in the end. 🙂

Writers out there, how do you write awesome romantic conflict scenes? I’d love to hear your techniques and feedback!

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