How to Handle Conflict in Fiction


Conflict in fiction is often portrayed as violent or ugly, and it can be. However, it isn’t always bad and is necessary for story development. In fact, when handled well, conflict can be a powerful tool for your character’s growth.

Conflict occurs when there are opposing desires, threats or obstacles between two people or between groups of people. There are many underlying reasons for conflict, including emotion, such as anger and fear; greed and jealousy; insecurity and doubts about one’s self-worth. The causes of a conflict may also be embedded in history; for example, old resentments can be kept alive by individuals and political leaders for their own benefit.

There are some important steps to take when you see conflict in your workplace. The first is to separate the person from the problem. It is very easy to equate a person’s actions with their character as a whole, which is a mistake. Viewing the issue as a behavior or set of circumstances instead of a personality is more manageable and hopeful for everyone involved.

The next step is to analyze the root cause of the problem. This usually involves exploring each individual’s “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM) position, which is a way to understand their unique motivations. This process allows for a collaborative solution that can benefit everyone, rather than an adversarial outcome that benefits no one.

After identifying the root cause, it is time to brainstorm solutions. During this phase, it is helpful to write down all of the ideas that come to mind and star the best ones. You can then work through these with your opponent, discussing each of them and evaluating how they would address the conflict. Ideally, both parties will find common ground in some of the ideas and can compromise to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

Lastly, it is crucial to follow up on the implementation of your conflict resolution plan. This can be done through surveys, face-to-face conversations or – if you are comfortable with it – joint debriefs. If you find that your solution isn’t working, or that it requires further adjustment, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board!

Conflict is not always a negative thing, and it can even be healthy for the team. It provides a forum to air grievances, overcome differences in working styles and improve communication for the future. The key is to ensure that you deal with conflicts promptly, before they escalate into something more serious. Also, make sure to foster a culture of support and respect for those who have different life experiences, personalities and viewpoints than yourself. This will help you reduce the occurrence of conflicts in your workplace.