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 possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.
It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. 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 the story, make a character’s goals harder to achieve, and force them to change or make hard choices to overcome difficulties.
To see the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers’ Conflict Thesaurus (Free Trial available) or buy the book.
Conflict: A Deadline Being Moved Up
Category: Increased Pressure and Ticking Clocks
Needing to have important paperwork completed
Needing to have materials prepped for an earlier meeting than expected…
Disrupting one’s schedule and personal plans
Inconveniencing other people if their support is needed to complete a task
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Rushing that leads to safety issues (and someone is injured)
Being blamed for a poor turnout or sloppy end result…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Anxiety over how to meet the deadline
Suffering a crisis of faith in one’s abilities
Feeling guilt for putting others in a bad position through no fault of one’s own…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected:
One’s boss, co-workers and employees, family members, a political party or cause one is championing, people in one’s community, or anyone who will be impacted by the choices one makes in order to complete the objective in time, or if one fails, those who will be hurt by that failure
Resulting Emotions: Anger, Anxiety, Apprehension, Bitterness, Conflicted, Contempt, Defeat…
Becoming better at time management
Being able to hone one’s organizational and planning skills
Becoming more adaptable when things go sideways…
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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“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