Conflict is important in all kinds of stories. A story where all is well and perfect is not an interesting story at all. There has to be some form of conflict that divide the characters, that make the characters suffer, that forces the characters to show their true colors, etc.
A great conflict is also intriguing and engaging to the reader. A conflict does not just mean two people fighting each other — it can be so much more than that. Your characters can have internal conflicts that makes their journey to self-discovery hard, they can fight an antagonistic natural force that threatens to destroy their homes, they can fight a political system that tries to put them all in shackles for believing in something different, etc.
To create the best kind of conflicts for your story you need to show what’s at stake, and you need conflicts with high stakes. How do you know what kind of conflicts give your story the highest stakes and captures the attention of your reader? The list of questions below will help you discover the conflict of your story, or develop the conflict you already have in mind. Answer the questions or use them as a means to brainstorm, just remember to let your creativity flow.
Questions on Conflict
- What is the central conflict in your story?
- Who is the antagonist (or antagonistic force) that prevents your hero/heroine from reaching his/her goal?
- How does your conflict pose problems for your hero/heroine? Can you make his/her problems bigger and much worse? What outcomes do these new ideas of problems present?
- What kind of an internal conflict does your hero/heroine struggle with throughout your story?
- Does your hero/heroine have to choose between two things, both unthinkable to live without? If so, what does he/she have to choose between, and why is it unthinkable for him/her to live without these things, people, etc.?
- What personal stakes are at risk due to the conflict in your story? Can you raise the stakes more? If so, how?
- Can you set up the conflict so that your hero/heroine risks losing what he/she loves most while going after his/her goal?
- Who and/or what else will be affected if the hero/heroine fails to reach his/her goal? Can you make it worse for them?
- How can you make the conflict more personal and therefore more painful for your hero/heroine? Is there someone who can betray your hero/heroine?
- How will the conflict be resolved at the end of the story so that it’s satisfying and believable to your readers?
- Can you think of at least three minor conflict components you can add to your plot, and through them make the central conflict of your story appear to be even worse for your hero/heroine?
- How has your hero/heroine changed by the end of your story, as a contrast to him/her at the beginning of the story, because of the central conflict?
I hope these questions will help you discover or develop the conflict of your story.