Chubby & Charming

Writing Tips: Creating Conflict

For you aspiring authors out there, I wanted to give you another quick lesson on making your own go at being a writer. Read on for some advice on conflict!

In every story, there’s always conflict. Sometimes it’s big and in your face, like a bad guy chasing someone with a knife. Other times it’s subtle and a little bit hidden, like a person who thinks they know what they want but really has no clue.

The best stories have a little of both.

It’s been three years since Chubby & Charming came out. If you haven’t read it yet, grab it now for free so you can understand everything I’m talking about here. I like examples, and yes, there are spoilers here.

Mandy tells herself she’s happy. That she doesn’t need a relationship to make her happy. We don’t need men, we have each other. She does believe her words, but she wants a relationship. There’s that distinction. She doesn’t need it, but she wants it. She convinces herself that because she doesn’t need a relationship that she doesn’t want one either. There’s your subtle conflict.

When Mandy meets Xander, her past experiences with attractive men bring in a new conflict. She thinks he’s going to dismiss her since she’s not model thin so she dismisses him first. She pushes him away before he has a chance to push her away. That’s a little more obvious of a conflict.

Layering in both elements adds depth to the story. If Mandy just convinced herself not to go for a relationship, or just had issues with cute men, she could get over them and move on. But having both, she’s fighting herself every time she turns around.

Of course, in the Big & Beautiful series, friends also add an element of conflict. Her friends are amazing, but they don’t always fit right in to what Mandy wants and needs. Claire has even more distrust of attractive men than Mandy does and warns her. Sam and Addi are a little more supportive, but at the end, when Mandy runs, none of them are willing to give Xander the benefit of the doubt until he shows up at Mandy’s house.

Xander’s conflicts are a lot more subtle in this story since we aren’t in his point of view. He has never felt like he truly connected with anyone he’s dated. He’s always thought there was something missing. That’s why he goes after Mandy. She’s the first woman he instantly had a spark with. He doesn’t give up because he wants to keep that feeling alive. He’s willing to do anything for her, but he needs to prove that since she’s timid.

Adding in conflict in romance can be tricky, depending on what kind of romance you write. Since this is a contemporary story, a lot of the conflict is internal, meaning within the character. I like to add in external conflict, like Mandy faces with her job and her coworker, Melody. It’s a somewhat minor subplot, but it works to show who Mandy is and push her to stand up for herself.

All conflict needs to be resolved. Anything you throw at your characters, you have to be able to fix it. With Mandy, her external conflict was partly resolved by her internal conflict. Being with Xander for a few months, she believed in him and how he felt. She convinced herself that he was being truthful about how much he cared about her. It gave her confidence she didn’t realize she was missing and the strength to stand up for herself when Melody accused her of threatening her. She didn’t need Xander, but having him changed her. Even when she thought he was gone.

Which brings me back to the internal conflict. She didn’t want him. She didn’t need him. But once she had him, she knew her life wouldn’t be the same without him in it. She couldn’t be with someone who would laugh at her, but she loved him. It was too late. He was the guy she thought he’d be, but she was blown away. Months of dating didn’t reveal his true nature, and Mandy was more hurt than she ever expected.

Of course, she was wrong when it came to who Xander really was. Claire convinced her to give him another shot, and she learned the truth. Conflict resolved.

Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated when you’re threading it into a story, but those are the high points. If you want a really good reference that goes into a lot of detail about conflict, I highly recommend Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s a great book to read to really understand how the three fit together and how to make it work in your story.

This is basically a new column for me on this blog. I want to ask if you have any questions, about writing or anything else. If you do, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy writing your conflict!

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#FiveOnFriday with Me!

My guest author for today wasn’t able to provide a post, but it works out for me because I wanted to share something with you!

I’ve teamed up with 55+ fantastic medium to steamy small town contemporary romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner!  You can win my novel, Plump & Pretty, plus books from authors like Marie Force and Carly Phillips! 

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/small-town-rom-2

Good luck, and enjoy!

But it is Five On Friday, so I wanted to share a few things about the Big & Beautiful series that you might not know!

  1. I wrote the first eight books out of order. Plump & Pretty was actually the fourth book I wrote, even though it falls sixth in the series. Shapely & Stunning was eighth. The first book I wrote was Chubby & Charming though.
  2. I had no idea Tara and Olivia knew each other until I wrote the epilogue for Puffy & Precious. On top of that, I didn’t know why they weren’t friends anymore until I wrote about it in Round & Ravishing.
  3. When I first envisioned Abby, she was a skinny woman, and she was not going to end up as one of the friends with a book. By the time I revised Fluffy & Fabulous, I liked Abby enough that I wanted to give her a story of her own.
  4. I didn’t know Olivia’s full story until I started writing Curvaceous & Captivating. I knew she was divorced, but I wasn’t sure why her ex left.
  5. My two favorite couples have been Carrie and Drew, from Husky & Hot, and Olivia and Ethan, from Curvaceous & Captivating. They were the two that extracted the most emotion for me.

If you haven’t checked out the series yet, Chubby & Charming is free everywhere! And don’t forget to enter the contest to win one of two copies of Plump & Pretty, plus over 55 books from other steamy, small town contemporary authors.

I’m still celebrating release week today. Stop by and say hi to me and Ann Everett!

Have a great Friday!

Chubby & Charming, Best Friends

Chubby-and-Charming-Cover-187x300Chubby & Charming is finally available everywhere! Just in case you haven’t picked it up yet, I have to tease you a little more.

Big & Beautiful is about friendship as much as it is about relationships. The four women who start the series have been best friends for years, and as only friends can do, give each other shit all the time. Life is so much better when you share it with your best friends!

Excerpt from Chubby & Charming

I laughed along with them, flipping pancakes and eating a hot one every once in a while. Claire made me a hot chocolate while the rest of them enjoyed coffee. After breakfast we piled on my couch and flipped channels before deciding to watch Bridesmaids.

My phone beeped with a new message shortly after the movie started. I picked it up halfheartedly, not expecting more than an alert about coupons ready to expire or something like that.

Xander’s name was on my screen and I opened the message. Claire paused the movie, “What’s going on?”

“Nothing, just a text from Xander. Oh, he’s so sweet,” I said, handing my phone over. He’d taken a picture of himself with an empty pillow next to him and said, ‘Your pillow and I are lonely without you.’

The phone beeped again when it reached Addi on the other end of the couch and she squealed and dropped my phone. “What happened?”

“I didn’t need to read that!” she called. “Oh shit, I can’t unread it.”

“What did it say?” Sam asked laughing. She picked up my phone and read the text, laughing. She passed the phone to Claire who responded similarly to Addi and tossed the phone to me.

I read, ‘My cock misses you, too. I’m ready for round two when you are.’

I blushed and sent him a quick text back for us to get together the next day. He responded instantly that he wanted to see my place. I sent him my address and agreed he’d come over for dinner after work the next day.

I tucked my phone away and settled back into the movie, feeling good about the not so awkward morning after.

Available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and others

Chubby & Charming, So Sweet

It’s Release Day! Yay!

I’m so excited that Chubby & Charming is officially available!

If you don’t see it yet on your favorite retailer site, it’ll be there soon. I’ll add links here as they become active, but just in case you haven’t bought it yet, here’s another little sneak peak.

Isn’t Xander sweet?

Chubby and Charming Teaser 2