Conflict resolution: a romance novel’s nightmare

I said last time that I am a romance novel junkie. So here is a lesson we can take away from all my “research.”

I know that in order to make a story that someone wants to read, there needs to be some sort of conflict that the lead characters need to overcome. 

I understand that most of us don’t want to read a book where everything is fine and everyone gets along. But I prefer that the obstacle be something imposed from the outside and not just a product of gross miscommunication. 

In a lot of these novels there is a pivotal moment where a character has to make a decision to talk to the the other person and chooses not to. Or they choose to and the other person won’t listen. Or won’t listen well and only listens with pride/ego/hurt and so can’t hear. 

This makes the rest of the book possible, of course. But it can make me nutty. Because if they would just calm down for a moment and really talk. Or be willing to say the hard things, the things that make you feel scared and vulnerable.  Or to hear them. 

Then so much heartache could be avoided. 

So in a novel we may need to manufacture drama to make the story interesting. But in real life there is enough drama without making it harder on yourself.  

Talk to your partner. 

Listen to your partner. 

Say the hard, scary, important things even though you’re scared. Say them in a loving way so they don’t feel like an attack. 

Listen to your partner with your heart more than your head. Keep in mind that they probably suck at communicating as much as you do or maybe more. 

Try to lean toward each other and build each other up so that you together can weather the inevitable drama that life will throw at you without making it worse. 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CatNISS
    Oct 11, 2015 @ 15:07:43

    I read a lot 19th century British novels and watch their TV adaptations and these plots rely on a lot of uncommunicated thoughts and feelings. There used to be so much limited opportunity for communication between men and women prior to marriage so these plots made more sense then than they do in contemporary romances. Despite that fact, it is amazing how hard it is to communicate well because feelings can be so complex.


    • B
      Oct 11, 2015 @ 15:15:31

      That’s true. But a lot of these things I’m reading are set there as well. They seem to be able to figure out how to have sex or other interactions in secret but not talking. And you are correct, it is hard to convey emotions with any certainty. Especially if you don’t know yourself and your motivations, as many of us don’t. But I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to try. And to cut each other some slack while we screw it up.


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