I've done a post on internal conflict before, but it bears repeating. I give the whole subject a lot of thought, after all. As we all should, since getting it wrong seems to earn a lot of very talented writers some very fast rejection letters! I was fortunate that my own conflict issue has only gotten me revisions at this point.
I was reading a post on Waiting For the Call http://waitingforthecall.wordpress.com, and it got me to thinking about why internal conflict is so much more effective than external conflict. Then it hit me, it's about character development.
If the conflict is external it doesn't require the characters to confront anything more serious than a moustache twirling villain or a scheming maiden aunt. Internal conflict forces characters to confront the demons inside of themselves and really change in order to get to that place of Happily Ever After.
Because if the conflict was caused in the first place by Scheming Maiden Aunt, who told the hero the heroine didn't want to marry him because she couldn't stand the thought of being tied down to one man (hussy that she is!), well then, what's the say Moustache Twirling Villain won't enter the scene after the HEA and break them apart again?
But if the HEA is reached only after the hero or heroine is forced the confront the internal issues keeping them apart, and they have to change these parts of themselves that are the most damaged, or the most staunchly set in its way in order to find happiness with each other, well that's an HEA I can believe in. They had to bleed for their love and because of that it's all that more precious and real.
It isn't just about the hero slaying the dragons, he's got to slay the ones inside of himself. Because that is what makes a lasting relationship in life. Changing yourself and getting over old hurts...not easy things for us to do. So seeing a character face all of that in the name of love, changing and becoming better...well, that's much more satisfying than, "Sorry, darling, it's just that from my position in the bushes it looked like you were encouraging him to take liberties, not biting him and pushing him away. Now that I know we can get married!"
So, what's your take on the whole conflict thing?