I admit it, I am a very non-confrontational person. If I can get away with letting something slide, I will. In real life, it generally means I’m easy to get along with, a good thing. When it comes to your characters and plot, this is a very bad thing.
Think about it. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. The end. Where’s the story? They didn’t earn a happily ever after. He didn’t slay dragons to save his lady fair. She didn’t have to give up her long-standing mani-pedi appointment to have lunch with him before he leaves the country for six months. Do we really care that they got together? We probably didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
But try this: Boy meets girl. Boy’s company wants to buy the house her grandmother was born in so he can tear it down and put up a super-mall. Boy forgets to tell girl he owns the company she’s now fighting in court. Boy seduces girl with his sweet-talking ways, the same ways that built his enterprise of super-malls. Girl sleeps with boy, offers her heart, goes to mediator the next morning and finds boy sitting on the other side of the table ready to take away the home she wanted to turn into a recovery facility for returning soldiers suffering PTSD.
Are you going to turn the page to watch the sparks fly? Sure, you know it’s a romance, so they’ll end up happily ever after. But aren’t you salivating at the thought of fireworks, name-calling, uncontrolled passionate kisses against their better judgment? I know I want to finish plotting the darned thing to see how they work this one out.
Girl has a goal that means the world to her. Boy stands firmly planted in her only known path to the goal. Boy stands to lose business/income/status if he lets girl win, and maybe Daddy will take away his key to the board members gym.
That’s conflict. You know you can’t let the hero win, everyone will be rooting for those soldiers. Now you need to find the twist, the ending that we’re totally not expecting. A resolution that makes the reader want to hug the book and clear a spot on her keeper shelf. But don’t let us know until we’ve given up hope that girl will get to save those war heroes. Keep them fighting, keep her losing until we can’t see how on earth you’re going to fix it for us.
When you let us see the magnificent solution we never would have thought of, yet seems so obvious we’ve decided you’re a genius, then you know your story is done. You’ve kept us hooked, kept us up until two a.m., made us find the charger for our ereaders because the battery is dying. Then you know that as soon as we read, THE END, we’re connecting to the internet to buy everything else you’ve ever written because we now trust you with our hearts.
Many happy sales!