Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Unwanted Scrutiny

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.

Conflict: Unwanted Scrutiny

Category: Power Struggles, Increased Pressure and Ticking Clocks, Failures and Mistakes, Relationship Friction, Duty and Responsibilities, Moral Dilemmas and Temptation, Ego, Miscellaneous Challenges

Being assigned an overseer to watch one’s every move
Drawing unwanted attention when trying to stay under the radar
Doing something by mistake that raises the suspicions of others
A lapse in judgement that causes others to change how they view the character, creating wariness and mistrust
Having to report to someone higher up (and knowing one is being watched by others who will, too)
The stakes being raised in a way that everyone’s attention is focused on the outcome
A loss of trust that causes another to monitor one’s activities
Being followed or investigated
Having one’s performance (decisions, judgements, etc.) evaluated in a test
Having one’s loyalty be questioned, resulting in less freedom and autonomy
An increase in security measures that makes it harder to circumvent them
Being caught up in something by accident (wrong place, wrong time) that leads to being monitored for further “transgressions”
Being placed under a microscope because of racism, prejudice, or a bias
Celebrity-like status that keeps one’s activities in the public eye

Minor Complications: Having very little privacy, having to deal with more red tape, needing to report one’s activities or actions in a way that one didn’t need to before, delays caused by increased security or new processes that have been implemented, being assigned a partner or a team instead of being allowed to work independently, having to adhere to new protocol or have another sign off on one’s work, being forced to hold off certain objectives until the scrutiny passes, losing out on an opportunity

Potentially Disastrous Results: Cracking under the pressure and making a big mistake, being caught in a lie or doing something one was not supposed to do, being unable to achieve a goal that leads to painful fallout, trust issues growing to the point where a relationship becomes damaged beyond repair, an enemy using the scrutiny as a way to seed further suspicions about one’s motives, being forced into a corner that requires one to break the law or become the opposition (but for the right reasons), being limited because of an unfair bias or another’s prejudice

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict): trying to forgive those who let their trust waver, anger at oneself for screwing something up in the first place which led to the scrutiny, a loss of faith at a critical time, questioning one’s loyalty, low self-esteem or feelings of lower self worth over things one cannot control

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Family, friends, co-workers, a business or institution, other people who will be impacted by one’s failure

Resulting Emotions: agitation, anger, annoyance, betrayed, bitterness, contempt, defensiveness, defiant, determination, disappointment, disbelief, disillusionment, emasculated, embarrassment, flustered, frustration, hurt, impatience, indignation, irritation, panic, paranoia, rage, resentment, resignation, shock, unappreciated, uncertainty, vulnerability, worry

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: abrasive, childish, cocky, confrontational, controlling, cynical, defensive, devious, dishonest, disloyal, disorganized, disrespectful, evasive, evil, foolish, hostile, hypocritical, impatient, impulsive, inflexible, irresponsible, jealous, judgmental, know-it-all, macho, manipulative, melodramatic, mischievous, nosy, obsessive, possessive, prejudiced, pretentious, promiscuous, pushy, rebellious, reckless, self-destructive, uncouth, unethical, verbose, vindictive, violent, volatile

Positive Outcomes: Being forced to slow down and think things through may improve one’s success rate, the character may learn who their friends really are, and if successful, navigating this challenge teaches self-reliance and helps the character to see they are more capable than they may have previously believed themselves to be

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.


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.
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1 year ago

I appreciate, result in I found exactly what I was taking a look for.
You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.

1 year ago

The majority of this entry, especially the personality flaws and emotions, describe Trump.