In life we generally try to avoid conflict. We tend to avoid confrontation and contention in hopes of finding peace and tranquility. We work hard to avoid problems at home or in the workplace.
In writing fiction, we must create as much conflict as possible because without conflict there is no story.
Conflict can be classified in the following categories:
1. Man vs. Man
2. Man vs. Self
3. Man vs. Society
4. Man vs. Fate/God/Nature
Man vs. man is when the antagonist is another person. The main character, or protagonist, is trying to obtain his goal but another person stands in his way, preventing him from his goal.
Man vs. self includes stories when the protagonist fights against himself and he stands in his own way of accomplishing his goal. Perhaps, his goal may be to become a heart surgeon but his fear that he’ll never be smart enough to get through medical school paralyzes him and prevents him from becoming a surgeon. Self-doubt can be a strong adversary and makes for dynamic stories.
Man vs. society is when the protagonist fights against the rules or laws of society to obtain his goal. A woman may want to marry a man that her society forbids her to marry. She must then struggle against society in order to reach her goal of marrying.
Man vs. fate/God/nature includes stories when the protagonist fights against elements out of his control. A man who wants to reunite with his family after an argument but runs into a hurricane, must fight against the hurricane in order to reach his goal: his family. Natural disasters or other unexplained difficulties placed in the way of the protagonist would be classified as man vs. fate/God/nature.
You must include conflict in writing your fiction because conflict is what fuels the story. You aren’t limited to only one type of conflict, but whichever conflict, or combination of conflicts, you choose to use make sure they are not only realistic, but that they are organic to the story. Otherwise, your story will soon run out of gas.
Rebecca Talley grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. She now lives in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, a spoiled horse, too many cats, and a herd of goats. She and her husband, Del, are the proud parents of ten multi-talented and wildly-creative children. Rebecca is the author of a children’s picture book “Grasshopper Pie” (WindRiver 2003), four novels, “Heaven Scent” (CFI 2008), “Altared Plans” (CFI 2009), “The Upside of Down” (CFI 2011), and “Aura” (2012), and numerous magazine stories and articles. You can visit her blog at www.rebeccatalleywrites.blogspot.com.
One thought on “Conflict Fuels the Story by Rebecca Talley”
Totally agree – often when the conflict isn’t very clear, it’s hard to be interested in the story or sympathize with the main character.
Comments are closed.