Internal Conflict

Internal Conflict

When I judge contests or do critiques, the most common error that I see is not having enough internal conflict between the hero and heroine.

I am fortunate to be in the same RWA chapter as Deb Dixon. If you haven’t gone to one of her workshops, read her book Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. This can be found at

Sometimes a story starts off with good internal conflict, but resolves the issues too quickly. Author, Pat Potter suggests you have two or more internal issues keeping the hero and heroine apart. When your hero and heroine finally come together there will need to be a sacrifice on one or both of their parts. I suggest not resolving the internal conflict until near the end of your book. If you do, you will need to find another reason why your hero and heroine must remain apart.

In Candice Proctor’s book, Night in Eden, her heroine who was sentenced for causing her husband’s death is imprisoned in an Australian workhouse. Her goal is to return to England and be reunited with the daughter she was forced to leave behind. The hero owns a sheep station and is associated with the upper class. He takes the heroine who has just lost a newborn son to be a wet nurse for his son. The heroine is afraid of the hero at first and despises him for owning her. Also he’s not so sure about trusting her around his son.

When he falls in love with her, he has another obstacle in his path. The heroine refuses to be his mistress, and the hero is above raping her. To marry a prisoner is unacceptable. He will be ostracized if he does. Also she doesn’t believe she could ever measure up to the hero’s dead wife.

Candice does a brilliant job of having many internal conflicts keeping her hero and heroine apart. Every year when I get out for summer, I read Night in Eden.

When you first come up with an idea for a book, don’t start writing it until you’ve decided on your internal conflict. Next month I will talk about goals and motivations.