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 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: A Repressed Memory Resurfacing
Category: Power Struggles, Increased Pressure and Ticking Clocks, Failures and Mistakes, Relationship Friction, Losing an Advantage, Loss of Control
Being triggered by something in their environment
Overhearing a discussion that leads to forgotten memories
Uncovering something unexpected during hypnotherapy…
Becoming highly emotional and anxious
Experiencing fight or flight and causing a scene
Shutting down (disengaging from work, forgetting to pick kids up from school, becoming unresponsive, etc.)…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Post traumatic stress disorder derailing one’s life
Depression and suicidal thoughts (or attempts)
Self-isolation and paranoia caused by trust issues or disillusionment…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Doubting their own memories and what is real or not
Self-loathing and self-blame (often undeserved)
Feeling unsafe and not knowing how to fix it…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: People they accuse of wrongdoing (and by association, their family), family or friends who engaged in a cover up and their actions are coming to light, people in power who dropped the ball or looked the other way and now that’s being revealed, people the character is responsible to while they time to work through these memories and any resulting fallout)
Resulting Emotions: anger, anguish, anxiety, betrayed, bitterness, confusion, depressed, disgust…
Knowing their past trauma allows them to seek help and start working through it
Having an explanation for why they feel a certain way (when in a specific place, with a person, or doing an activity)
Having answers about a past event or situation which brings relief…
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.
New to One Stop for Writers? Swing by and check out our video walkthrough, because it’s time to change the writing game.
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
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.