Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coming Up With a Strong Conflict

Having a hard time coming up with a conflict strong enough to take the characters to the end? Maybe this list can help.

-Man Against Man: one character against another (usually one is good and one is evil, but that’s not always the case.)

-Man Against Nature: a story about survival.

-Man Against Himself: strong internal conflicts, where the character may be fighting an external conflict as well, but must battle his inner demons before the story is over.

-Man Against the Supernatural: the title says it all.

-Man Against Fate: the character has little or no control over the situation and can’t escape his destiny, making this conflict even more difficult to overcome (and difficult for the writer to write in a believable way.)

-Man Against Society: when a character goes against mainstream beliefs and values, or laws of a particular society.

-Man Against Machine: this conflict is more commonly found in science fiction, where machines have a mind of their own.

-Man Against God: this story puts the existence of God and His (or Her) choices into question. Be careful with this one as it’s pretty controversial and must be executed properly so as to not alienate readers.

If you tend to stick to the same type of conflict, you might want to try something different. Hopefully, this list will give you a few ideas.

What conflict do you often write about and why?


  1. Conflict against society, that one intrigues me, but I'm not sure I could pull it off. Now that I have it in my head, maybe I'll come up with something. But it can be broken down even further, Woman against man, battle of wits between woman hater and woman. Name calling, playing the race card, politics against the world. I'm on a roll, so I'll quit.

    As always, good post.

  2. The conflict I would least like to write is Man against Nature. I love conflict between two characters... of any other description your have highlighted here ;)

  3. Elizabeth: I could see a great world building opportunity with the man against society. Would be neat if everyone else was kind of nuts and the protagonist was normal (to us).

    Elaine: I agree. I prefer man against man, too. However, a good example of man against nature is the TV series called I Shouldn't Be Alive. I can't believe the things people have gone through and survived.

    Lynnette Labelle

  4. Hi. :)

    Interesting list. I recently wrote a blog post about conflict and summarized conflicts in 4 main categories.

    In a story there might be (and should be) more types of conflict.

    The ones I use most are Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Fate, Man vs. Nature.
    Why? Because they are the usual, everyday conflicts in human nature and life :)

    Man vs. Society actually is not that complicated. It's broadening and combining one or both of the Man vs. Man and Man vs. Self conflicts.

    Thank you for the interesting post.

  5. Nice list. It would be interesting to see this list in tabular form. I wonder how many headers you could do. I see at least three: 1) Type 2) Definiton 3) example.