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How to Write External Conflict in Fiction: Really Useful Links by Amanda J Evans

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Amanda J Evans

Amanda J Evans

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Following on from last week where the focus was on internal conflict, this week I’ve decided to take a look at how to write external conflict in fiction. External conflict refers to situations that put your character at odds with things happening outside of themselves. It is normally situations that stand in the way of your character getting what they want and it helps to add tension as they try to reach their goals. The articles I’ve chosen this week provide an in-depth look at external conflict and offer tips and advice on how to incorporate it into your fiction writing.

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/sharpen-your-writing-skills-internal-vs-external-conflict#what-is-conflict – Sharpen Your Writing Skills: Internal vs. External Conflict and 3 Tips for Adding Conflict to Your Writing: This first article is from MasterClass and it covers everything about conflict including a section on what external conflict is as well as offering numerous examples of the different types of external conflict which include character conflict, society conflict, and nature conflict. External conflict will set your character against something or someone that is beyond their control. There are some great examples included to show how external conflict works in all situations and there’s even a section on three other types of external conflict which includes supernatural, technology, and God. There’s a lot in this article, but it is worth the read.
  2. https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/external-conflict – External Conflict: This is an article from LitCharts which explores external conflict. It begins with a definition before moving on to providing some key details about external conflict. It then offers a breakdown and explanation on three types of external conflict along with providing examples of them in use in fiction. There’s a section on internal vs. external conflict and it ends with explaining the function of external conflict in fiction. There are some great links at the end of the article too if you’d like to explore conflict in more detail.
  3. https://www.well-storied.com/blog/what-is-external-conflict – Breaking Down The Four Main Types of External Conflict: This article is from Well-Storied and you can read or listen to it. It begins by explaining that conflict is what drives the narrative of any story before moving on to look at the four main types of external conflict, which in this article are character vs. character, character vs. society, character vs. nature, and character vs. technology. There are explanations given as well as examples of popular stories that contain the type of conflict being discussed. There is another section on how to weave external conflict into your stories with a number of questions that you can ask yourself. There’s a lot of information in this article and it is well worth reading.
  4. https://literarydevices.net/external-conflict/ – External Conflict: This article is from Literary Devices and it begins with an explanation of external conflict before looking at three types of external conflict you’ll find in fiction. It then looks at four examples of external conflict in fiction with an explanation of how it is included in the books that have been chosen. The article ends with a section on the function of external conflict and now it can add a sense of excitement and immediacy to your story. It also explains how it helps to make your character unique and reveal their intentions.
  5. https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/creating-conflict/1736/conflict-101-external-conflict—article – Conflict 101 External Conflict: This is a short article from the Author Learning Centre that explains what external conflict is before discussing four types of external conflict your characters can face. These include other characters, society, nature, and technology. There is a short explanation for each with an example of a book that uses it. There is also a small section on how to add external conflict to your story which includes an exercise that you can do to map out the conflict in your story. This is done through a series of short questions. All in all, this is a good short read if you want to get a quick overview of external conflict.
  6. https://prowritingaid.com/art/1366/what-are-the-7-types-of-conflict-in-literature.aspx – Mastering Conflict in Fiction: 7 Types of Conflict and How to Use Them: This is a great article from ProWritingAid that explains first and foremost why conflict is key to your story and how it works. It discusses 7 different types of conflict in fiction with the first five focusing on external conflict. These are character, nature, society, technology, and supernatural. Each of these is discussed and examples are provided. The article also includes the two internal conflicts which are self and destiny, and there are examples of these too. The next section looks at how to create conflict in your stories followed by the effect layering conflict can have. There’s a lot in this article, but it is well worth reading.
  7. https://industrialscripts.com/external-conflict-examples/ – The Different Types of External Conflict & 10 Great External Conflict Examples: This article is from Industrial Scripts and while it is focused on screenwriting, it is well worth the read. It looks at what external conflict is, the different types of external conflict, and the best examples of external conflict. There are ten excellent film examples included with videos of each so you can see exactly how the conflict is shown. There’s also a written description of the external conflict too. Examples include the shark in Jaws and the totalitarian society in The Handmaid’s Tale as well as the use of time as external conflict in Toy Story 3.

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the links this week and are getting ready to practice all the advice given. If there is a topic you’d like to see me cover, all you need to do is get in touch with me via any of my social media links.

(c) Amanda J Evans

www.amandajevans.com, Facebook and Twitter: @amandajevans

About the author

Amanda J Evans is an award-winning Irish author of YA and Adult romance in paranormal and fantasy genres. Growing up with heroes like Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones, her stories centre on good versus evil with a splice of love and magic thrown in too. Her books have all won awards and her latest novella, Hear Me Cry, won the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference 2018. Amanda has been featured in a number of poetry anthologies in 2017 and 2018 including A Bowl of Irish Stew, a charity anthology for Pieta House and her short story Moonlight Magic was included in the Owl Hollow Press Anthology, Under the Full Moon’s Light, published in October 2018. Amanda is currently polishing her novel, Winterland, which will be submitted to agents and publishers in 2019, and is also working on a Bronte inspired story for an anthology due for publication in 2020. Amanda is also the author of Surviving Suicide: A Memoir from Those Death Left Behind, published in 2012. You can find out more on her website www.amandajevans.com, Facebook and Twitter: @amandajevans

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