Conflict is the central element of every story that keeps readers turning pages – it’s what makes them feel like they need to keep reading to see how everything will work out. Conflict provides direction and momentum, and without it, a story would just drift along with no beginning, middle, or end. The key to writing a conflict-driven story is to have your characters face a tough choice between two or more opposing choices or beliefs. This will make the reader genuinely care about your character and want to know how they will choose to resolve the situation.
Essentially, conflict is when something that the characters want or believe in is thwarted, endangered, or opposed by another force. This can take many forms, from a fight between two rivals, to a race against time, or even the conflict of a group’s values against those of another group (eg the differences between a refined lady and a boorish slob). Conflict can also occur when there is insufficient something to go around – such as money, social status, love, power etc.
The most common form of conflict in fiction is the conflict between a main character and an antagonist. However, a good story doesn’t just rely on this to generate tension; it also needs internal conflict that will help to develop the character, as well as provide interesting choices for the protagonist to resolve the conflict.
In stories where a character is battling inner demons or is in an ongoing battle with their own feelings, the character’s reactions to the conflict will also invoke empathy from the reader. For example, a character who struggles with anger management issues may react to a conflict by losing their temper, or they might choose to avoid the problem and ignore it.
When a character is in conflict with an external force, the result can be explosive and dramatic. This is often the case when characters are fighting for a cause that they believe in or are trying to protect their loved ones. The results of this type of conflict are usually immediate and very visible to the reader, making it a popular choice for storytellers.
There is also a more subtle type of conflict, the kind that occurs between two or more people who are close to each other. These types of conflicts can be just as intense, but they are less apparent because they tend to play out over a long period of time. These kinds of conflicts can include squabbles between colleagues, arguments between parents and children, or even a romantic relationship.
It is important to remember that all conflicts have the potential for resolution. This is usually achieved by involving a third party or mediator who can assist both parties to find solutions that are fair and just. They can offer expert opinions, laws, precedents, and accepted principles to guide the discussion. In addition to this, they can provide a clear framework for how the conflict will be resolved.