Conflict is the most important component in any story. Readers don’t want a story where everyone is happy. A story that has characters struggling with external or internal conflict, and how they respond to it, will hook your readers. Conflict gives a story a purpose. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos with some guidelines and advice about writing conflict.
This article tells us that conflict brings together two opposing forces and then develops and resolves the struggles between those two forces. It gives the writer two different models: the accomplishment story and the decision story, and shares examples of what these models might look like. 4 storytelling principles will help you write better conflict, including the conflict must be of obvious importance to the characters involved; the characters must act and react to familiar principles of human behaviour to be plausible.
This blog from Reedsy shows the writer how to create conflict in a story by asking 6 simple questions: What does your character want? What is in their way? How can their strengths help them (at first)? What must change to overcome the final hurdle? What consequences will this change have? How can other characters bring these conflicts to life? Using the film Legally Blonde as an example, the process of working through these questions is demonstrated.
In this article, adapted from The Plot Thickens (Lukeman), Ian gives general tips to consider when writing conflict and discusses specific ways to create conflict, including making your antagonist strong, well crafted, and believable; giving your hero something to fear; give your hero a significant flaw; increase the pressure in predictable ways; use dramatic irony; and, turn his successes into poisoned chalices.
Conflict builds tension by challenging your character and forcing them to test their values. There are 6 different types of conflict you can use to propel your story: character v self, character v character, character v society, character v supernatural, character v technology, and character v nature. Masterclass shares 9 ways to create conflict in your story, including putting obstacles in your character’s way, creating a character with opposing values, and raising the stakes.
Servicescape shares conflict ideas and examples based on the most common types of conflict in fiction. The categories are split into character v self, character v character, character v society, character v supernatural, character v technology, and character v nature. This is a great blog if you are trying to brainstorm ideas.
In this podcast from Helping Writers, they discuss conflict in fiction: what it really is and why it’s important to plot.
Using a writing prompt, this podcast from A Story A Day talks you through how to write conflict.
Fiction Made Easy talks about writing better conflict in your novel using ‘progressive implications’. Progressive implications are moments of conflict that get more and more challenging to deal with over time. These complications can be people, places, things, or events, and they can be negative or positive.
Louise focuses on internal conflict and talks about the different types of internal conflict and the five main triggers for a protagonist’s internal struggle, including desire, needs, duty, fear, and expectation.
Conflict is what makes your readers invest in your characters and their lives, and engage in your story. I hope that these articles and podcasts have been helpful to you and that you can go on to write unputdownable stories. As always, if there are any topics you would like me to cover, please get in touch.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan