Building Emotional Tension into the Story Idea

Posted on Posted in Romantic Fiction Craft, Starting a New Story, Story Structure, The Writing Life

Do I have enough Emotional Conflict in my Romance?

I am now building up the extra layers on the outline for my new RIVA story.

Sometimes it feels like I am sitting an exam where I open up the exam paper, and there is not a single question that I can answer. Not only that, but I can’t remember studying for this topic, AND I HAVE to pass this exam to achieve my goals.

Feel the fear. It does not last long, but it is there.

Here are some of the questions I have come up with, to try and convince myself that I am not a complete duffer, and I can create Internal Conflict and Emotional Development for my hero and heroine.

Emotional Conflict and Layers: Questions

  • What draws the Hero and Heroine together?
  • What will keep the Hero and Heroine apart? What obstacles are they going to have on the journey to find love?
  • Why should a reader care about my Heroine?
  • Have I made her sympathetic? Empathetic? Likeable?
  • Is her motivation crystal clear and believable so a reader can relate to her situation and want her to succeed? Can a reader identify with my heroine?
  • Why should a reader care about my Hero?
  • Have I made him aspirational? Admirable? Likeable?
  • Is his motivation crystal clear and believable?
  • IS HE HEROIC? Would I want him to knock on my door and ask me out?
  • Have I revealed these characters through their actions, interaction with other characters and reader insight?
  • Have I revealed his and her backstory through a moment of great emotional tension, rather than just telling it as narrative?
  • Have I used exposition as ammunition?
  • What are the complications within the relationship which are making it difficult for this couple to be together?
  • Why do they feel that they cannot be together? Or cannot be?
  • How will they get around this?
  • Does each scene have an emotional turning point, and not just a plot turning point, to move the story AND the relationship forward, while telling the reader something new about that character?
  • Have I created believable and gripping obstacles to the romance what will keep the reader turning the pages and staying awake to read what happens next? Is the pacing right to keep the readers interested?
  • What does my heroine want – passionately?
  • What is stopping her from having it?
  • How is my heroine unique and still relevant to the modern woman and what her aspirations are in the world?
  • What does my hero want – passionately?
  • What is stopping him from having it?
  • What beliefs and values (both good and bad) has the hero learned throughout his life and how do they impact his relationship with the heroine?
  • Which of his beliefs and values will he have to change as he battles both inner demons and outside conflicts, as he continues to grow toward a resolution that has him living happily ever after with the heroine?
  • What is my hero’s some inner torment?
  • Does he act against his nature for the sake of the heroine? For example, if he’s a man who would rather fight and die than run and hide, force him to run and hide in order to protect the heroine.
  • Is he vulnerable? What is his weakness? Make him aware of it, and of the moment that he puts himself at risk. For example, if he’s vowed never to experience the pain of rejection again, make him realize that he’s falling in love with the heroine. He knows that he risks being hurt again, but he’s helpless to stop what he feels.
  • Have I created a real and believable struggle for my couple, that will end in an emotional catharsis for them – and a reader- when they commit at the end?

I find it useful to think about these points, while reclining in my boudoir eating bonbons.

With a blanket over my head.

4 thoughts on “Building Emotional Tension into the Story Idea

  1. This is a really useful table. Could you give us an example of what it might look like filled in? When I read your analysis of Ally Blake’s writing I realised that I didn’t always understand what writers meant by certain terms (like emotional turning point) before I saw the examples and I’d love to see this table filled in to help me understand it better. I really appreciate all the advice you’ve written for writers. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *