I know you should have a strong need/conflict for your main character that carries to the end of the story, my question is how early does this have to be introduced? In my story My heroine has a driving need to find her identity and to become a warrior despite great opposition. This is pretty clear from the very beginning. The main romance/conflict begins a bit later in the story, when the girl-meets-boy-meets-big-problem-they-have-to-overcome. There are lots more things going on than that but i was trying to work out the main underlying conflicts.