Conflict

Some people would argue that conflict is the single most important aspect of fiction writing. It might sound extreme however, this is not an absurd conclusion to come to. Conflict creates a story, it creates a reason for the characters to move throughout the narrative. The dictionary definition of literary conflict is a literary device characterized by a struggle between two opposing forces. The great thing about conflict is that it can be many things and come in many different forms. Conflict often is used to dig deeper into the characters of a story, it can show these character’s motivations, strengths and weaknesses, and their purposes in the story all while provoking a deeper meaning in the narrative. In a fiction narrative, there can be one clear conflict that the characters or character has to deal with, there can be multiple conflicts that these characters or character has to deal with, there can be internal conflicts within these characters going on at the same time as external conflicts and even more possibilities. Conflict can be created in many different ways and forms and can be extremely interesting when done creatively. On the note of internal conflict though, this can be a very interesting aspect added to the content of a narrative. Internal conflict is a conflict that a character has within themselves that makes them question their beliefs and personal identity, this kind of conflict creates development in this character as the narrative goes on. When done well and creatively, this can create fascinating and unique character arcs and stories that readers can relate to and become attached to. External conflict is a little different. This kind of conflict creates tension between the characters in the story and something or someone else. This something or someone prevents the characters from accomplishing what they desire and is beyond their control. Internal and external conflicts go great together and amplify the conflict of a story when used together. External conflicts often create internal conflicts within characters and give them an opportunity for an arc. The stronger these conflicts are, the more meaning they will bring to the characters and the narrative, this will also make character arcs and character development stronger and have a bigger impact on readers. An immense conflict can create a great story, however, it has to balanced throughout the story, or else it could feel like too much to handle at once and readers will become uninterested. Splitting this conflict into pieces so that it’s well balanced and spread throughout the story is a better way of maintaining a large, growing conflict in a narrative so that way the protagonist has time to go through it and face it head-on. Conflict should affect the characters involved in the story. It should stress them out and have them make decisions whether they are the right decisions or the wrong ones. This can force the characters in the story to act with their true intentions whether they want to or not, which furthers their internal conflict. Conflict must make these characters confront their fears and problems pertaining to the main conflict. This brings me to my next point which is the problem of creating conflict for no reason. This can happen to an over-ambitious plot with way too many strings of conflict connected to it. Conflict must be important and engaging for the characters, it has to make sense in the context of the narrative. It must be an actual issue that cannot be solved by any means, it has to have an effect on the characters internal or external. When conflict is introduced into a narrative and it doesn’t make sense for the story or for the characters to deal with, it can often feel like a waste of time and a pointless part of the structure of the story. Readers will notice this and question the severity of the real conflict in the narrative and possibly lose interest in the story and the characters as a whole. Conflict is an extemely important part of crafting a significant narrative, creating fundamentally interesting characters and character arcs, and creating a creative plot that gets readers invested. Without a strong narrative conflict, whether it’s internal or external, there will be no significance to the plot or characters involved which means there is no reason to become invested in the story. Conflict can be very creative in fiction writing and I love seeing it done in different ways when I read something new.

Leave a comment