Escalating Emotion in Commercial Fiction Writing

One of the first rules we learn as romance writ­ers is that the Emotional Conflict between the hero and the herWaterhouse painting of woman sleeping in a chair with a book in her lap.oine must not only be com­pelling enough to car­ry the rela­tion­ship to its inevitable sto­ry con­clu­sion, but that the Emotional Conflict must also esca­late expo­nen­tial­ly.

This is actu­al­ly true of all Commercial Fiction.   Whether you’re writ­ing Science Fiction or Westerns or Paranormal, the con­flict between the Protagonist and the Antagonist (whether Godzilla, Mom or the Ghost of Christmas Past) must be emo­tion-based in order to dri­ve the sto­ry.

Escalating Emotion Workshop Handout

Below you’ll find a pdf of the hand­out for the Escalating Emotions work­shop I gave at the 2014 Willamette Writers Conference.  Along with an anno­tat­ed exam­ple sto­ry, the chart lists the steps of Christopher Vogler’s Writer’s JourneyMichael Hague’s Screenplay Structure and James Scott Bell’s Writing from the Middle.

Use the chart as a ref­er­ence for struc­tur­ing your sto­ry — not as a bible.

WW2014 Escalating Relationship Workshop Handout