1. What are some pitfalls authors fall into when creating conflict between hero and heroine?
Conflict that is too easily solved, such as a miscommunication that could be fixed with one honest conversation between the couple.
Or when one MC actively tries to hurt the other MC, I can’t see a person being in a HEA with a partner who would do that, such as in bully romances.
2. What are some steps authors can take to create conflict without making the hero or heroine unlikable? (Is it okay for a main character to be unlikable occasionally?)
I think both parties should have some idea they believe that is incorrect or from which they need to grow, some mis-belief, and that being open to love means facing and overcoming this mis-belief. It’s commonly based in baggage from a prior relationship of their family of origin, and is in direct conflict with what their romantic interest would bring into their life.
MC can be cranky or grouchy and even rude, but I personally would not care for a romance hero or heroine who was cruel towards their love interest.
3. How can your authors use motivation-action-reaction and inner goals versus outer goals to drive the plot?
The outer goals force the MC to question the “truth” about their mis-belief, which forces a change in their inner beliefs, driving the inner character growth arc.
4. What are ways we can help authors turn favorite types (the alpha male, the soldier, the friend-turned-lover) into real people?
Go beyond the superficial stereotypes and try to base characters on real people, giving them unexpected interests, competencies, and weaknesses.