There are few things that can sink a good romance novel faster than a weak obstacle. The purpose of the obstacle is, of course, to keep the hero and heroine apart until they reach happily ever after.
Most romance novels have 2 obstacles: internal and external. An internal obstacle is something that occurs inside of us. It involves issues such as:
fear of loving
inability to trust
External obstacles are more tangible.
Feuding families (Romeo and Juliet
Geographical separation (Sleepless in Seattle
Separated by time (The Lake House
Already engaged (The Wedding Planner
The internal obstacle comes pretty quickly for me when plotting, but the external obstacle usually requires more planning. And I've learned (the hard way) to really think this one through. If you have a strong external obstacle, writing the novel will be easier. If you have a weak obstacle, not only will the story be unsatisfying, but you'll find yourself plodding through the middle of the book trying to find reasons the hero and heroine can't be together. Or, equally worse, you'll keep using your weak obstacle and make a molehill into a mountain. The reader will see right through this.
So do yourself a favor and make sure both of your obstacles are strong enough to keep the hero and heroine apart for the course of the novel. You'll be thankful you did--and so will your readers.
Have there been any obstacles that have kept you apart from a loved one? What is the obstacle keeping the hero and heroine apart in the last romance you read?
Labels: Denise Hunter, writing