Questionable: Can a Love Interest Be an Antagonist?

K asked:
“I have a question about villains – and layering them so that they engage with each other and the heroine. Some say the hero (love interest) is the main antagonist, others say there needs to be a stronger antagonist because he’s not one by the end. What say you? What have you found works the best?  Do more antagonists pop up as you write? How do you like to layer them? Do you have a limit/rule that you like or use?

Let’s start with the basics.

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Questionable: Can You Put a Death in a Rom Com?

S asked:
“What do you think about death in the romantic comedy? Not the hero or heroine, but someone else who matters. Does this make it something other than romcom? Would readers revolt? Have been studying 4 Weddings and a Funeral – the writer was apparently advised to include the funeral to balance the sweet. . . . Had similar thoughts about the movie The Apartment which was tragic but listed as a romcom. It’s for my WIP – my critique grip is squeamish about a death I’m planning in a book that’s part of a romcom series and I’m wondering if it’s maybe too much for my reader?”

Well, first define “romantic comedy.”  I’ve never thought The Apartmentwas a romantic comedy, so I’m no help there.  My basic definition is that it’s a story of a romance that ends happily and is funny.  If you can make a death work in that context, it’s a romcom.  Obviously, there’s some calibration in there, but death is not antithetical to romance or comedy.

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Questionable: Conflict in Romance

Carol wrote:

“It’s the conflict in every scene that throws me for a loop. What about romance? Yes, there needs to be conflict or it’s boring, but if it’s all conflict, I can’t buy them having a HEA. Doesn’t there need to be some parts where they are in accord? What about after the Big Bad Thing has happened? I would think the character needs to react, to process the loss, before he/she can think what to do next, especially if it is a major loss. And if the scene begins when the conflict starts and ends when the conflict stops, when does the reader get a breather?

“I understand the definition of conflict, but … Man, I can’t even come up with a coherent question. How about – How do you use conflict? Especially the more subtle ways.”
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