Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.
Whether you’re looking for minor friction options for a given scene or major conflicts to hamper the character’s overall story goal, this thesaurus can help. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.
Below is a sample version of this entry that shows how conflict can deepen your story, make a character’s goals more difficult to achieve, and force them to change or make hard choices to overcome what stands in their way.
To see the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers’ Conflict Thesaurus (Free Trial available) or buy the book.
Conflict: Taking Advice from the Wrong Person
Category: Failures and mistakes, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities
- A character seeking advice from someone who is secretly working against them
- The protagonist taking advice from someone whose top priority is him or herself
- The character taking advice from someone with good intentions who doesn’t know what they’re talking about…
Embarrassment when it’s made public that the character had the wrong information
Experiencing a minor set-back in achieving the overall goal
Relationship friction between the character and the advice-giver…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Difficulty trusting others
Not being trusted in the future with important projects or duties
Purposely not seeking the advice of others (relying solely on one’s limited knowledge, missing out on the wisdom of others, etc.)…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Doubting one’s discernment and ability to read people
Blaming oneself (for trusting the wrong person, for allowing oneself to be swayed despite initial suspicion, for not having enough information initially to recognize the advice as being faulty, etc.)
Being tempted to silence the accuser and bury one’s mistake…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Allies, family members and friends, co-workers, mentors and benefactors
Resulting Emotions: Anger, anxiety, appalled, betrayed, bitterness, confusion, defensiveness, denial…
Realizing the importance of doing one’s own research
Being more careful about who one trusts in the future
Creating a checks-and-balance system by seeking out multiple people for advice…
If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.
Use Conflict To Transform Your Story
Readers have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting books, so make it easy for them to choose yours. Conflict will help you deliver a fresh story premise every time, drawing readers in through meaningful challenges that reveal a character’s innermost needs, fears, weaknesses, and strengths.
The Conflict Thesaurus is part of the largest, fiction-specific Description Database available. Access it here.
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The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles
This thesaurus is also in book form, a two-volume set. Each volume contains expert advice on how to use conflict to improve your story, and a plethora of conflict scenarios to provide ideas on how to best challenge your characters.
Each volume is a unique gateway into conflict, but looks at this important element from different angles. Together, they profile 225 conflict scenarios.
“Many of the conflicts listed were ones I had never even thought of including in a story…” ~ Annie Lima
“Angela and Becca have done it again—and left no conflict stone unturned…” ~Jarm Boccio
“Ackerman-Puglisi’s thesaurus is so much more than just a “thesaurus”. It’s a tutor, a guide, and a writing mentor all crammed into one…” ~ Sacha Black
This book is amazing; another priceless resource…” ~ Brandi MacCurdy
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.