For day three of our series, we’ll be discussing one of my favorite story elements, because it makes the story world go ’round: conflict.
In most basic terms, conflict is a fight. I talked about types of conflict, including man vs. man and man vs. self, in this post. In this post, I described how to take conflict up another notch. For example, in a man vs. man situation, you can make things worse for the protag by making him choose between two equally bad options.
All stories, regardless of genre, live and breathe on conflict. We read to see if the heroine resolves the injustice, if the hero overcomes his guilt and falls for the woman, or if the hunter can survive in the wilderness. Conflict begets new and different forms of conflict until the climax, when the primary conflict is resolved. We want our protags to earn their happily ever afters, and every step of the way must be difficult.
A character’s agency is what drives him, and conflict is what gets in the way. Often, my writing partners and I will discuss scenes that need more “rocks,” referring to the quote. Anything that makes the reader say, “Well, that was easy/convenient” must be scrutinized. Not only does conflict drive the story by making the protag resolve or adapt to it, it reveals character by showing how the protag resolves and adapts. Conflict is what keeps readers up past their bedtimes.
What kinds of conflict do you enjoy reading and/or writing?