I love inner conflict, though I’ll admit that a great kidnapping scene and the hero rushing in to save the day will get me every time. Yes, I’m a damsel in distress, hero on a white horse, Rapunzel let down your hair, sort of reader. Hmm. Maybe this explains my current obsession with Once Upon Time. I love that show and all its fairy tale references. Have you seen it?
Anyway, what I love even more is inner conflict, the fight with one’s self. I’ve seen really bad inner conflict that I didn’t connect with, and some that was freaking awesome that made me feel awful for the characters. Because, you know what?
I really get being torn. Swearing you’ll never do something AGAIN, but meeting that one person that makes you want to take back every vow you’ve ever made to yourself. It’s a tough road, full of past experiences that made you make the decision in the first place. Fighting yourself shouldn’t be easy. It should be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do.
I think that is where a lot of inner conflict fails for me. I’ve seen too many stories where it starts with a fantastic inner conflict, that I truly jive with, only to have the hero or heroine do away with their self-made promises too quickly because they’ve met the love interest and it’s an instant switch from great inner conflict to outside conflict.
I’d really prefer to stay with the inner conflict. Even better is a perfect combination of the two.
I have a few vows I’ve made to myself over the last two years, and I won’t share them because I have an idea for a contemporary I’d like to write using them, but to my core I feel like I will never go back on these vows. I have my reason why I’ve made these decisions. They’re deep rooted with a lot of dark chewy soil keeping them planted. But it does make me think, being a romance writer and all, what would happen if I did meet the man who could make me want to rethink my current stance. All I know is right now he’d have to be one hell of a dude to get me to.
So my advice to newer writers, don’t shy away from inner conflict. It really is a potent plotting device. The only thing is: it can’t be shallow. Not something that leaves the readers wondering why in the world she was still harping on it, it wasn’t a big deal.
If it’s stopping your character from her HEA, it IS a big deal. It’s your job to dig deep, and truly understand every crevice of why your character is the way she is, everything that happened in her past to make her who she is. Once you get that, and can transcribe that on the page, the readers will be riveted.