Conflict in Your Story’s Plot


By Britney Pieta

(Professor Tammie Bob, Fiction Class, COD Spring semester of 2010)

 Conflict is essential to plot.  Without conflict there is no plot.  It is the opposition of forces which ties one incident to another and makes the plot move.  Conflict is not merely limited to open arguments, rather it is any form of opposition that faces the main character. Within a short story there may be only one central struggle, or there may be one dominant struggle with many minor ones.

There are two types of conflict:
1)  External – A struggle with a force outside one’s self.

2)  Internal – A struggle within one’s self; a person must make some decision, overcome pain, quiet their temper, resist an urge, etc.

There are four kinds of conflict:
1)  Character vs. character  (physical) – (ex. The leading character struggles with his physical strength against other men, forces of nature, or animals. )

2)  Character vs. circumstances (classical) – (ex. The leading character struggles against fate, or the circumstances of life facing him/her. )

3)  Character vs. society (social) – (ex. The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs of other people. )

4)  Character vs. himself/herself (psychological) –  (ex. The leading character struggles with himself/herself; with his/her own soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations, choices, etc.)

Authors can keep their storylines edgy by not promising the audience anything to what will happen. If the reader reads something that doesn’t also leave the choice of something ending badly, then the writing is boring. It reminds me of when my dad is watching a baseball game and when and if the Cubs win, he screams, “Yes!” The Cubs always seem to lose, but when they do win, it’s even more meaningful. If the good guy eventually gets his escape, but not until after a long battle, it makes it seem more realistic too. In real life, succeeding in something takes a lot of effort and time.



Filed under Bloggin' with Britney

2 responses to “Conflict in Your Story’s Plot

  1. O.A. Manno

    Britney you are a genius!! You are so correct–without conflict the plot is no plot and the story is blah blah blah! Vince Manno

  2. Britney,

    A very succinct synopsis of the role of conflict in plot development. This is similar to the structure of a speech; Opening, Body, and Conclusion. Since I am an avid public speaker I can relate your insights to making better connections with my audiences. Public speaking for me is about making an emotional connection with the audience so that they are moved to take new action or think in new ways. Struggle (conflict) is a very human experience and one that people can relate to. Story telling is my most effective way to connect. I need to remember my goal is not to give a speech, but to move my audience.

    Thanks for the quality essay. Did you ever think about being a teacher?

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