When I saw Disney's Brave, throughout the movie I marveled at the brilliant illustration of conflict. The rules of fiction writing were perfectly conveyed in the shape of a bear.
Merida's (the heroine) father has an aversion to bears after they threaten his family, and later in the movie, his wife becomes a bear when Merida has a moment of teenage angst. So how can Merida protect her mother, the bear, from her father, who seeks to protect his family from the bears?
As I write the third in the Kundigerin trilogy, stories that embody spirit beasts, I knew one of the conflicts in this story would be between the heroine and Max's spirit beast. As I delve further in, the characters are telling me secrets about themselves, some of which I knew going in, and more that I didn't see coming. Since my stories are mainly romance with added extras (mystery, paranormal influences), I already know that Max's family secret is going to be a source of conflict, although attraction is a heady thing, and it might be easy to pretend his secret doesn't exist until the heroine actually witnesses it. Add in the "Brave" factor - and I'm grateful for such an excellent example to draw from.
No, I don't want to give too much away, but if you've read Gathering Mist, you know there's more to Max than meets the eye. Making that "more" something that invokes fear into my heroine's soul on an elemental level is what makes writing this story exciting. How can she overcome her fear/repulsion in order to have her happily ever after? I've never had such a clear picture of the "black moment" in a story, and it has fueled my excitement to keep writing the final installment in this trilogy (a black moment is that point in a romance where you can't see how the hero and the heroine can overcome the obstacles to their happily ever after).
And so, I'm writing. The story is pouring out as I grab whatever free moments I have until I finish the last spring deadline at the day job, and after that the real work begins. Making everything I'm spewing out readable.