When you think of conflict, you probably envision a tense fight scene between two characters, a race to the finish line in a sports event, or an international arms race. These are all examples of conflict, but they are only the surface of what is actually a complex set of interactions between people and things. The purpose of conflict is to force characters to make choices and take action, and it is what makes the best stories so compelling and interesting.
The most common type of conflict is that between a character and another person or thing, but it can also be between the characters themselves, society as a whole, or even nature itself. The setting of a story can also create conflict, such as when the protagonist finds themselves in unfamiliar territory in Jumanji or when robots rebel against humanity in Isaac Asimov’s The Evitable Conflict. Conflict is essential to a good story because it helps us learn more about the characters, what they value and don’t value, and how they interact with each other.
There are four different types of conflict that every story must have. They are:
1. Internal conflict. This is when a character struggles with their own emotions, opinions, or ambitions. This is the most common type of conflict in fiction, and it is what gives each character their individuality and personality. Examples of this are Hamlet’s struggle with how to exact revenge against his uncle, or Jane Austen’s difficulty with deciding whether or not she should marry Mr. Darcy.
2. External conflict. This is when a character is in direct opposition to another person or something outside of themselves, like a big storm or an international arms race. This is the most popular type of conflict in film and television, and it is what makes your favorite superhero movies so exciting to watch. It’s why we root for the Avengers to win against the evil robots in Marvel’s The Avengers, or for James Bond to defeat his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the series of 007 films.
3. Interpersonal conflict. This is when a character struggles over misunderstandings with other people. It is the most common type of conflict in real life, and it can be very hard to avoid. When someone misunderstands what another person is saying, it can lead to major arguments and resentment. It is important to remember that everyone has their own perspective and point of view, so it’s okay to disagree sometimes.
4. Group conflict. This is when a character struggles between groups, such as coworkers or friends. It is the most common type of conflict for businesses, schools, and families, and it can be difficult to resolve because people often feel a sense of loyalty and ownership over their part in the group.
The key to successfully handling conflict is learning how to recognize and accept your own feelings. It’s also important to pick your battles and not try to prove that you are right all the time. This will help keep you from getting dragged into unnecessary fights that drain your energy. Lastly, remember to always practice quick stress relief and emotional awareness so that you can respond in healthy ways.