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 Offered an Easy Way Out
Categories: Power Struggles, Failures and Mistakes, Duty and Responsibilities, Moral Dilemmas and Temptation, Ego
An offer to retake a test after one’s poor performance
An offer to take over a difficult situation when one is struggling
A powerful connection offering to pay someone off and make one’s sticky situation go away…
Being forced to lie to people one cares about
Having to lie on record
Deciding to resist temptation and deal with the fallout…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Owing a person in power a favor
The truth getting out and one’s reputation or standing being ruined…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Paranoia that someone will find out
An identity crisis over crossing a moral line
Guilty feelings if there is fallout to others as a result of an action one took…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: the character themselves, family and friends who hold the character in high esteem or vouch for their honesty and skills, co-workers or others who are being penalized due to one’s unfair advantage, people who are victimized because justice is not served
Resulting Emotions: anguish, anxiety, conflicted, denial, depressed, despair, desperation, disillusionment…
Resisting temptation and accepting responsibility
Learning the value of being prepared
Being determined to not make the same mistake again that landed one in trouble…
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
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.