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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Understanding Crisis Vs Conflict

How do we keep the reader on the edge of their seats, turning page after page? We use conflict and crises. A book can have both, and most do. You can have a book without crisis, but you CANNOT have a book without conflict.
“Conflict is what makes a story worth reading. Without a struggle, a moral choice, tension, and opposing forces, a story would be nothing but a boring discussion of facts.” "How to Write Conflict" (link no longer works, sorry)
The difference is that crisis is usually a circumstantial event or action, such as a car accident, a robbery, a break-up in a relationship. Conflict is the choices or struggles the character has to make, sometimes because of crisis. Conflict happens inside the character.

These are the Basic Types of Conflict in a Story:
  • Inner Conflict: The character is struggling within themselves, with what they want or what they do
  • Relational Conflict: The character is struggling with someone else
  • Social Conflict: The character is struggling with a group
  • Survival Conflict: The character is struggling with fatality
  • Situational Conflict: The character is struggling with a situation -- in this case, the character’s problems involve the interests, problems, ambitions and situations of others and their affect on the character.
  • Man vs Nature
  • Man vs god or religion
The trick is taking one of those conflicts and making it feel real and unique.

More websites on conflict and tension in fiction:
Fiction Factor—a list of essays on conflict.


Angela said...

This is so true! I've seen several manuscripts where there were all these things happening TO the characters, but they never seemed to have any reactions to it. No conflict. They just seemed to be going with it all. Real people don't normally react this way. Even if they act like something doesn't bother them, they usually have some kind of internal conflict going on.

Great post!

Liz A. said...

Something I was saying at my writers group just the other day.