Sunday, March 18, 2012

Creating Conflict

Most people try to avoid conflict in their daily lives. The aggressive and confrontational welcome it.  And there are some who go through their entire lives oblivious to conflict.

For fiction writers, conflict is essential. Characters in conflict create dramatic tension. Dramatic tension drives the story forward and keeps the reader enthralled. The character arc comes from how the character resolves the difficulties presented to him/her throughout the story.  

So how do we produce conflict? Conflict arises from the way our protagonist handles the problems we throw at him.

When I decide to write a story or book, I figure out first what the problem will be, what the resolution will be and then have the hero struggle his way to the end. The more difficult the conflict is to resolve, the more fun it is to write and, hopefully, read.

Conflict is not only for mysteries and thrillers. You see it in all romances. Inevitably when the man and woman first meet, they dislike each other intensely. We learn their back stories and then root for them to figure it out.

It is in mainstream fiction as well. Why else read a story unless there is something to be resolved? A character gets to overcome the odds, change and grow through the conflict presented.

Conflict does not have to be between two characters; it can be an internal problem within an individual. It can be a battle with outside forces such as other characters, the weather, and ideas.

In The Prince of Keegan Bay, the main conflict was for the senior citizens to save the infant Prince of Kushawa from assassins. Tension is heightened by a deadline of December 26th. In the new Keegan Bay story, The Corpse at Keegan Bay, it will be up to the seniors to save one of their own. Along the way the protagonist overcomes increasingly difficult situations. Finally, it is up to this character to fulfill the hero’s promise, rise to the occasion, and win the day.

Veronica Helen Hart - Award winning author of The Prince of Keegan Bay


Anonymous said...

Actually discuss this topic in a DVD workshop I made. Had one of the participants ask, "Must there be conflict?" I replied, "Ever know of anyone that touched your life that at sometime wasn't confronting turmoil and conflict?" Of course not. The vast majority of readers want it in their stories cause they realize characters evolve and grow through conflict.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

January Bain said...

Conflick is essential. Lots of my conflict is out of their control which works for me!
Big Mike is right on about growing from conflict.
Thanks for a great post!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

The most important element in a story. Glad you addressed it.

Jude Johnson said...

Exactly right. A story without conflict is like a car without wheels--going nowhere fast. How each character responds to conflict is the heart of any story. Otherwise, it's just a description.
Good topic, and timely.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Definitely an essential for all kinds of fiction! Thanks for reminding us.