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Monday, July 12, 2010

The fight is ON!

Since my wedding anniversary is coming in two days (nine years, WOO HOO!), I just gotta talk about relationships today. That's what romance stories are about anyway, right? Relationships.

And everyone in any type of relationship has to least occasionally.

I think I like non-verbal arguments best. Sure, they can be just as aggravating and miserable as a good ol’ yelling match, but you can have a little more fun with them too since you use actions instead of words.

Take my husband and me, for example. We had this “thing” going with our bathroom counter top. Since moving into our new house, we’d kept the vanity clear of cosmetics and cleaners.

Whenever my husband left out sunscreen or the like, I'd put it back up in his cabinet for him.

Well, one day, I left something out (Yeah, I know. Shame, shame, Linda Kay), and he put it away for me, (in the wrong place, mind you), only to leave THREE of his items out.

So, now…. It’s on.

Confession Time: OK, I admit. I might’ve put it away myself, but I gotta use this as an example for the rest of my post, so please work with me here.

The whole ordeal made me think of romance stories(yeah, imagine that!).

In romance, the writer has to delve into the dynamics of a relationship between the hero and heroine. You can throw in as many plot twists, plane crashes, psycho stalkers, and surprise babies as you like, but somewhere in there, the two main characters are still going to have internal, emotional differences, whether they be difference of opinion, morals, or objectives.

They need to fight.

Happily ever afters don’t happen without overcoming their problems first.

I increasingly wonder if I shouldn’t have majored in Psychology instead of English when I went to college. Authors deal with so many fictitious personalities, they have to figure out what makes each character tick.

What are their strengths and weaknesses and how are they going to deal with confrontation?

When are they going to pull their punches and when are they going to hit below the belt?

Will they be honest throughout, or will they cheat?

My sister actually came up with an ingenious idea to help me map out internal battle plans for my stories and figure out how I want my characters to fight. She lent me a self-help marriage book called Safe Haven Marriage by Dr. Archibald Hart.

The book explains how different people act and react in a fight and why.

Of course, then it goes on to teach us how to fight fair, but for a writer, the mere explanation of why and how can be very useful. We know how we ourselves will react in a certain situation, but a counseling book will further explain others’ motives and fears.

So, it makes me wonder: could reading any old marriage book help an author strengthen the depth of their heroes and heroines? Both deal with strengthening a relationship, so it seems reasonable to me.

What do you think?


Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Linda - I agree completely that your hero/heroine have to fight/disagree to make the HEA worthwhile. Books aren't about plot, they're about conflict. The most interesting parts of the books I've read are those where the hero/heroine are at odds. And it doesn't have to be a screaming match. In fact, it's more powerful IMHO if it's controlled and smouldering.

Paris said...

I love a really juicy conflict. It makes coming to terms with it so much more satisfying.

I agree with Tina, there doesn't have to be a screaming match, which happens to be my least favorite way of dealing with conflict either in books or real life. But sometimes it just depends on the characters you set up behaving believably in any situation that you put them in.

Amber Skyze said...

Oh yeah, H/H need to fight or disagree. It's human nature. :)

I'm not a screamer so I wouldn't want my characters screaming or read something that has them screaming at each other.

I'll bet those marriage books would be a great resource.

Linda Kage said...

Ooh, controlled and smouldering; I like that. And I'm with all three of you on the screaming matches. They're not my fav becuase I usually just end up crying and besides, I never come up with the perfect comeback until a day or two later...way after the fight's over. Sigh.

I can write or read about screaming fights okay, but they're not quite as fun either because it seems like one of the parties ALWAYS has to yell something they'll totally regret, and I'll be all like, "now why'd you have to go and say that?" Grr.

jellybelly82158 said...

hi Linda,
Congrats on your anniversary!! Hang in there. I will have my
25th in Dec. We love to have little disagreements so we can make up. The makeup part is always fun.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Agree totally. And sometimes those fights are the hardest part of writing the book for me--I just want them to be happy, but you gotta have conflict!

Katalina Leon said...

Good productive conflict is essential in a fictional romance as well as a real relationship. I strongly suspect couples who have "no" conflicts aren't trying very hard to truly connect. Human egos naturally cause friction.. need, love and attraction inspire us to work through those conflicts.

April Ash said...

The "fight" between H/H has to be a reasonably believable the resolution can create that warm, cozy "AH" feeling for readers.
Happy Anniversary!

Chasidy Jean said...

I absolutely love when an hero and heroine fight. It makes everything so much sweeter when they make up.

Amber Scott said...

Your counter fight is totally cracking me up. My husband must announce that he's putting the item away, as if it is some heroic gesture on my behalf. It drives me bananas. I think, to be realistic and believable, our characters must have the little quirks like these and can't always get along.

Molly Daniels said...

Now you know why I channel my inner social worker in my books at times:)

GREAT post Linda:)

Ashley Ladd said...

Happy anniversary, Linda. How are you going to celebrate?

Great blog. :)

Linda Kage said...

Thank you for the anniversary wishes. We're celebrating by going to a B&B in Branson, MO. I hope I can have a little fun instead of experience separation anxiety. This'll be the first time away from my baby overnight.

She'll be at Grandma's, sure, but what if she misses me the whole time or worse, what if she doesn't even notice I'm gone? Yikes.

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