Sunday, March 8, 2009

External conflict as a motivator

As my WIP has started to take on a life of its own, I'm beginning to worry about the balance between the external and internal conflict. Category romance is all about the internal conflict and too much external conflict is a quick route to rejection. But I wonder if external conflict is acceptable as a motivator of the inner conflict, if it provides a character with the incentive to change?

The situation is this:
My hero is an extravagant playboy who takes nothing seriously. My heroine takes everything seriously. He has inherited a multi-national corporation and she is constantly telling him he needs to step up and be more involved in the business. They uncover an attempt by the board of directors to oust him and he has to decide how to deal with this, whether to avoid confrontation as he usually does or to stand up and take responsibility as the heroine wants him to.

What do you think? Is the business angle simply a plot device or is this external conflict motivating the inner conflict - and does this make it acceptable?


  1. Romy, I like the concept. If this provides the catalyst I don't see why not, though the decision to take responsibility must come from him. I guess also, you have to make sure that this threat isn't the only thing that keeps the characters apart. As long as you have something internal to the characters that keeps them from being together. And if it's just because he takes nothing seriously and she does, you have to give reasons for why they might have these opposing attitudes.

    Does that make sense? Anyway, that's just my two cents!

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  4. Thanks for the advice so far.

    I deliberately didn't go into all their internal motivations, but he lives life to the full in response to a father who worked himself to an early death.

    My heroine also has very strong reasons for prizing stability, commitment and financial caution, and the hero embodies all her worst fears. She has to realise that he is not her father. And he has to realise that responsibility is not the same thing as sacrificing oneself to the job.

  5. I agree with Jackie that as long as there is some strong internal conflict that is keeping them apart (and not just causing them to react to the circumstances around them) it should be fine.

  6. I was worried about this same thing in my WIP and Donna Alward (who had read my pitch and so knew a bit about the story) posted and said ... the same as everyone above.

    So they must all be right. :-)

  7. Hi Romy!
    I really like the concept it's very unique, it's definitely something I'd buy! To me the external conflict is linked to the internal and would be a great way to up the anti!

  8. Romy, you think maybe you're having an internalcriticitis attack? Heading towards the end of the book and suddenly worrying whether it's strong enough?

    I'd say finish the ms the way you intended and by doing so all will be revealed!