Developing Conflict and Resolution in your stories

Characters are the heart of a story, the plot is its skeleton, but the blood running through its veins is conflict. Without it, your characters have nothing to fight for, no arc will develop, and your plot will wither and die. In this post, we’ll explore the internal and external conflict to resolution elements that could be evoked to create a truly dynamic novel .

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The protagonists traits need to be carefully selected for each story. Their backstory will colour their personality, and mould their goals. It’s important to understand where their character journey starts, so that you can plan for their reactions by understand their limiting beliefs. You should know what they want, and what needs are hidden beneath.  

Within the protagonist is the delicate balance of their life’s story, and before the plots even started, there might be an internal conflict brewing beneath the surface. In other words, the conflict is Person vs Self. Do they struggle with a mental illness? Are they harbouring a deep, dark secret?

Perhaps the conflict is Person vs Society. Is your character desperate to escape the seemingly perfect, yet utterly dull family life. But if they leave to seek fame and fortune, they’ll be shunned by the community they’ve grown up in?

Other types of conflict to consider are: Person vs Paranormal = A spooky ghost story. Person vs Environment = A thrilling adventure where the character has to survive a hostile, unfamiliar environment. Person vs Technology = like the movie Terminator!!

Info graphic, character’s personal iceberg metaphor

When we consider these questions, a shadow character will immerge, and from that, we can build a nuanced character using all of their backstory/traits/goals.  Once the conflict has been targeted, make it personal, give an emotional connection to the character, that way the reader will be invested in the resolution too.

Make the conflict specific to your character; creating a league championship with the idea of your hero and villain playing on opposite sides isn’t engaging. But show the reader why the characters believe winning will fulfil an unmet need and you’ve captured their attention.

We could use the same techniques to build our antagonist, possibly, with the intent of creating a character that will purposefully challenge our protagonist, Person vs Person. Perhaps, they both have the same goal, but with very different ways of obtaining it. If the protagonist is socially awkward, a brash and obnoxious antagonist would naturally create a conflict.

Keep creating tension by adding layers of conflict. Every obstacle creates an opportunity for triumph or failure. Keep raising the stakes, build barriers that prevent your protagonist from gaining his goals unless he overcomes the impossible. The pressure of time will ratchet up the pace of your novel. In order for your hero to win, they’ll have to suffer first. And remember to keep the conflict believable for your genre/world/plot.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

I love Person vs Person conflict, it works wonders in the romance genre, but I also use Person vs Society. What’s your preferred conflict method? Share your writing style with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and, 2019.

24 thoughts on “Developing Conflict and Resolution in your stories

  1. For me, a great part of developing the MC is his conflict with the expectations put on him – or at least the way he sees those expectations – and finding himself. Of course, there’s an enemy he’ll fight but that will, in turn, affect his doubts when he needs to make a decision and shape his inner conflict.
    It was something I kind of enjoyed exploring as I know doubt as it was my sibling…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey, Lorraine!

    Conflict is also another point of struggle for me in my stories.
    I really like Person vs. Person, but I’m fascinated by Person vs. Self, even though I cannot carry that out at all! Everytime I try it, it ends up in long boring self dialogues that lead to nowhere…

    I’ll translate this soon!
    Thanks for the great content again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love conflict in stories, it’s such a great way to strip down the characters and see what they’re made of in the choices they make. Your advice is, as always, spot on. And I love your examples of the different types of conflict there can be. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an excellent post! Thanks for laying it out so clearly and succinctly. Person-to-person conflict’s something I’ve loved cultivating in my stories, since it gives the conflict a real immediacy with a clear obstacle to overcome. Brilliant advice!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Could you please refer me to a pot about the number of character in a story. I have two main characters and 2 they affect but these characters are not active in the story like god or a person who has died. I’m wondering how important other supporting roles to make the story a more realistic story.


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