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: Being Forced to Move
Category: Increased Pressure and Ticking Clocks, Failures and Mistakes, Relationship Friction, Duty and Responsibilities, Loss of Control, Miscellaneous Challenges
Relocating for work
Having to move due to financial constraints
Moving due to a separation or divorce…
Having to take time away from work to pack
Dealing with children who are angry about the move
A bank account hit as one pays for moving-related expenses…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Discovering the new place is riddled with problems (leaky pipes, faulty wiring, a pest infestation, awful neighbors)
Realizing the new neighborhood is unsafe or in some way undesirable (such as a new factory or mall being built close by)
One’s kids hating their new school or being bullied by local kids…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Second guessing one’s decision to move
Self-esteem issues (if the move was a downgrade)
Reopening past wounds due to one’s situation (the pain of poverty, feeling abandoned or isolated, being mistreated at work, feeling unsafe, etc.)…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: family members (especially children), friends, organizations that the character is involved with and must now leave, one’s employer if the notice is short
Resulting Emotions: agitation, anger, anxiety, apprehension, bitterness, conflicted, defeat, defensiveness…
Realizing one is able to adapt to change and adversity
Discovering new friendships and opportunities in the new location
Being able to leave behind pain associated with the old home and situation…
Interested in other conflict options? 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
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.