>Conflict & Structure with Author Stephanie Rowe

>As a four-time RITA® Award nominee, a Golden Heart® Award winner and a nationally bestselling author of more than twenty books, Stephanie Rowe knows a thing or ten about writing.  So when I created interview questions for her appearance here, I thought craft would be a topic both writers and readers would enjoy.  I know I was intrigued with Stephanie’s answers and can’t wait for my copy of her July release, TOUCH IF YOU DARE, coming in the mail.  Yes, I won one early!  And you can too!

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

Welcome, Stephanie!

How long does it typically take you to write a book from concept to polish?

It totally depends on the book. Last year, it took me almost six months to TOUCH IF YOU DARE, my July release, and that didn’t even include pre-work or editing. This spring, I wrote my latest book in 17 days! That one just came alive for me, and it was the coolest experience. From idea to polished book, that one took me just under two months. I wish they were all that easy! Over the last five years or so, I’ve focused on educating myself about how other writers prepare for writing a book, and I’ve created an extensive system of 10 or 12 documents that I go through as I brainstorm. They are cumulative, building upon each other as I learn more about the story and the characters and can dig deeper into everything. By the time I finish, I’ve got a 10 or 12 page very tight document that tells me exactly what I need to know to write, and not a bit more. It’s been working really well for me and I continue to refine it as I learn more and evolve as a writer.

You write in several romance genres: paranormal, suspense and contemporary.  What do you love to write the most?

I really enjoy the freedom of writing in different areas. Each one taps into different strengths and has different challenges and opportunities, so writing in the different genres helps to keep me fresh and it keeps me growing as a writer. I am usually most interested in whatever genre my current work-in-progress is in, which is good, since that’s what I’m immersed in all day!

What is your philosophy on conflict in a novel?

There are two kinds of conflict: external (e.g. bad guy) and internal (the character’s personal baggage). I believe that the most powerful conflict has to come from the soul, and it has to be the kind of conflict that can’t be overcome by a simple conversation or illuminating moment. A book without a powerful internal conflict will often lack that compelling element, while a book without a powerful external conflict can often be riveting. So, when I write, I always focus on the internal conflict and I allow the external conflict to arise from that.


How do you go about building your novel’s conflict?

My first step is to get to know my two main characters in their souls. I don’t bother with their favorite kind of ice cream. I need to sink myself deep into the emotions that drive them, and peel back the layers to expose their greatest fears, their greatest hopes, and their greatest joys. I find out what drives them, and I find out what terrifies them beyond belief, and then I create a story that forces them to defeat their innermost terrors in order to get that which their soul burns for. Sometimes those obstacles can be external, tapping into their inner traumas, and sometimes those obstacles can be internal, but every obstacle and every event and every relationship stems from that darkest place in their soul that is yearning for hope, for love and for light.

Do you plan out the structure of your novel? What model do you use?

From a structural perspective, I have created my own model based primarily on Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT screenwriter’s book, and the hero’s journey as described in Mary Buckham’s brilliant lecture, Plotting with Mythic Structure (I highly recommend going to her website, www.marybuckham.com, and buying her lectures. They are absolutely invaluable). I’ve taken those plot points and created a chart in word that I fill in with assorted ideas for events. I’ve created assorted brainstorming documents that I use, and as I proceed through them and come up with plot points, I write them into my chart. By the time I finish going through my brainstorming documents, my chart is usually rich with events to challenge my characters. I usually don’t have to do any more work, and I’m ready to write at that point.


Great tips for writers! Fun insight for readers! Hope you have enjoyed.

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

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  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks