When I finish a book in my genre that impressed me enough that I wanted to learn how to write a story with similar qualities, as soon as I am done, I run through it   and write up a mock scene list of the conflict presented.

The last one I did this to was Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist. I learned something. Make every goal conflicted.

Every goal your Heroine has, make the Hero have the opposite. And have them both have the same goal but both unable to attain it. Then give the characters goal helpers and goal deflectors that call his/her goal into question.

The same goals keep them together as love interests, the opposite goals keep the “will they or won’t they get together” story arc believable.

A similar goal in Maid to Match:

The characters both want to help orphans, but

Hero can’t because he doesn’t have the money and doesn’t want to be tied to the town.

Heroine can’t because she doesn’t have the time or money and has job restraints.

An opposite goal in Maid to Match:

Hero wants to settle down, Heroine wants to be a career woman.

Helpers and Deflectors

Heroine goal: to be career woman

Helper: Mother agrees, Heroine believes she can help her orphans being a career woman, wants to be charitable

Deflector: Hero, brother, Things aren’t happening like she thinks they should (plot conflict)

When I set up a new story now, I will be sure to look at my hero and heroine’s goal and make sure I set up something to make each one of them unattainable (preferably the hero against the heroine kind of conflict), give them one they both want, but make sure they can’t get it, and throw in some helpers and deflectors to play tug of war with my characters desire to attain their goals.



Amber Perry · 1 May, 2013 at 9:59 am

This is awesome Melissa!! Thank you for sharing this–I’m going to adopt it. 🙂 I can’t wait to read your book–and of course feature you too, if you’re up for it. Let me know!

Natalie Monk · 3 October, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I love this book and getting to take this lesson from it after you’ve done all the hard work of dissecting is fabulous! Thank you so much!

I struggled reaching my word count goal with my last MS, so I had to do something similar. Went back in an Excel document, wrote one line for every scene I had, then went back and dropped in new conflict scenes for each goal. Hope it works. I guess I’ll find out when I start subbing. 🙂

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