You’ve probably heard this somewhere during your writing journey:
‘If there’s no conflict, there’s no story.’
It’s one of the main elements of story telling. It’s easy enough to come up with a character and a goal, but if that goal is easily achieved it makes for a rather boring story. It’s important- and often times difficult- to ensure that your story contains enough conflict to make the reader want to keep turning the page.
Conflict is something, anything that opposes your protagonist. Their goals, their personal beliefs, their journey. Here are five ways to add conflict to your story.
Set clear goals
Let the reader know as soon as possible what the protagonist’s goals are. Do they have to defeat a tyrant, or find a missing object, or find their way back home? If the reader understands exactly what the characters want, they can understand the reasons for the conflict as it arises.
Let your characters fail
It’s not a story if your characters succeed at everything they do. Conflict arises when they fail and make mistakes. It helps raise the stakes of the plot, and gives your characters something to overcome.
Give characters conflicting traits/beliefs
Conflict doesn’t just come from protagonist vs antagonist. It can come from a variety of places. It’s natural for conflict to arise within groups of friends, especially when they’re pushed to the edge. This natural conflict can arise when you have characters with clashing personality traits, or personal beliefs.
Give your conflict reason
Any conflict you create should serve a purpose. Don’t just add an argument between friends for the sake of drama. Many readers will be able to tell if the conflict is meaningless or added in for the sake of it. Everything your characters face should serve to move the plot forward in some way, or add to the characters personal arcs.
Create personal conflict
A protagonist with internal struggles they have to overcome is another great way to create conflict. Maybe they have to get over a personal fear or a past mistake in order to achieve their goals. Things like this can directly effect both the character and the plot.
Remember that conflict doesn’t just have to come from the villain or the antagonist. It can come from any number of sources. In fact, the more conflict your protagonist has to face and overcome, the more their character can grow and change.
Good thoughts and happy writing!