Definition of Conflict: The struggle within a plot between opposing forces.
I learned about conflict when I first entered college.
You see I always equate the dumb things I’ve done in life to learning experiences in my writing.
In college, I did a lot of dumb things.
I mean, I guess I was supposed to because I was away from my parents, on my own, hanging with wild and crazy people and loving every second of it.
So there, I got my “experience” in at that time, but I also learned about conflict.
In conflict, I learned during the midst of the worst, it’s really hard to see the silver lining and sometimes it feels like there’s no way out.
I felt like that a lot.
Until I started writing again.
That was after college.
In writing, I learned I could see things more clearly and see the end to the problems in my stories and in my life.
Writing saved me. Writing help me see.
I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.
On with the lesson.
In your story as in life, your protagonist is usually going through several “conflicts” at the time.
No one ever goes through one problem at a time in life, so you have to remember the list of conflicts your protagonist must go through.
Conflict can go :
- 1. against another person
- 2. against nature
- 3. against society
- 4. against machine
- 5. against God
- 6 against him/herself
In these general conflicts, various things can rage.
Like in Eve’s deception, Eve had a conflict with another person – the people in the church that hurt her mother, herself – because she wanted to be free of the rage she had inside of her and God – because she felt he was the reason for all the bad things to begin with.
In stealing innocence i, Jaelen had a conflict against his family : his father’s out of wedlock clause, himself: he was lusty and didn’t trust women and with his friends: they wanted him happy, but was trying to help him from hurting himself.
Now I usually don’t do more than three conflicts. I’ve seen where writers try to get all of them in to make the story longer, but I found with a great deal fo research length in a story takes care of itself.
You must resolve ALL conflicts your protagonist has.
I found the reader to be much happier when you do.
You do not end a story without doing so, or tell the reader it’s going to be in another book. If you’re an avid reader, as much as you are a writer, (which you should be) you ought to understand that can piss someone off.
(sorry for the language.)
Oh-kay, that’s enough on the writing tip for the day.
I’ve added something to help you map out your conflicts. I found this great chart about conflict:
To see entire chart, click here
Need some books to help you on conflict? Add these books to your library!
3 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Writing About Your Protagonist Conflicts”
Thank you for the great article. It was informing, but the graphic on the life cycle of a conflict definitely refreshed my memory on how to correctly plot a conflict. Thanks again Sylvia.
Nice. It’s funny that when I started writing my first book, Unfinished Business, I wasn’t aware of all the technical terms of writing but because I’m an avid reader I knew that my character had to have various conflicts going on to make the story interesting!
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