A Rose by Any Other Name…What Fun!

Love is something we all think about, and hopefully, most of us enjoy, but from a writer’s perspective, especially an adventure/mystery writer, it can be pretty dull. Love is about caring, respect, giving, and compassion. Great as this is, it is boring as the central theme of a story: two people sitting around, cooing mushy stuff at each other.

Of course, there is the possibility that one side believes they are in love with a person pretending to be someone they are not. But when you think about it, the best opportunities for conflict in a relationship involve three emotional states that commonly create conflict: insecurity, lust, and infatuation.

Now this stuff gets my creative juices flowing!

Insecurity is the absolute best reason for creating conflict where there should be none. Romance writers would be lost without it, but it should be in every writer’s toolbox. It can be the basis for humor, misunderstandings, conflict, even violence. Insecurity mixed with love produces the most complex and interesting situations. The best thing is, every reader on the planet will be able to relate to your protagonist being insecure.

Lust, on the other hand, is an animal instinct so deeply rooted in us we cannot exist without it. While Lust is mostly associated with sex, people lust for all kinds of things: power, money, gold, possessions, fame…the list goes on. Lust is one of those “about me” things, and presents many wonderful possibilities for conflict. A person filled with lust has no misconceptions about the object of their intentions, nor do they consider the ramifications of their efforts to get it. Lust can be the basis for greed, jealousy, theft, and violence. When you’re looking for attention-getting conflict in a story, it doesn’t get any better than this.

The last emotional tool is as universal as the previous two. When people say, “love is blind,” they are talking about infatuation. Love isn’t blind. A person in love may give their beloved the benefit of the doubt more often than someone who isn’t. They still see them for who they are, and love them anyway.

However, infatuation is the act of overlaying your mental image of the “perfect” mate onto someone who may not come close to that high expectation. It can be befuddling to discover your companion doesn’t want the same things you do. In fact, they may not even like you. Infatuation almost always leads to disappointment, and can also turn into anger, angst, befuddlement, and bewilderment.

As a writer, you many want to clump these three emotions into one mash and call it love. Many before you have done so, but to make your characters believable, it is important to know the difference between them. Insecurity might keep your hero from his desired goal, lust can make normally respectable people do bad things, and an infatuated person may become a puppet for an unscrupulous person.

The important thing is to be consistent so your reader isn’t confused…that is unless you want them to be.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged


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